With snow falling and a feeling of Christmas in the air, the audience at Donald Young School in Emo was treated to a heart-warming concert by the Borderland Orchestra, under the direction of Katherine Williams, on Friday night.
Not only was it a fantastic evening of music, but also an appropriate way to begin the Christmas season.
Emcee Dan Vos introduced each selection, and gave a brief explanation and history of the song.
The orchestra’s first selection was entitled “Christmas at the Movies,” which featured music from “Miracle of 34th Street,” “The Polar Express,” “Home Alone,” “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” and Dr. Seuss’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”
Their second seasonal selection was “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” which was written by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane for the 1944 film, “Meet Me in St. Louis.”
Vos explained Judy Garland, who sang the song in the film, insisted on replacing a few words. Then in 1957, Frank Sinatra furthered softened the lyrics with the line “Hang a shining star upon the highest bough.”
These changes turned the original song into the piece we still love today.
A welcome addition to the evening was a preview performance by the cast of the Donald Young School’s new musical, “Seussical the Musical,” which will be staged early in the new year.
The students demonstrated that their hours of dedication and practice have begun to pay off. And all indications are this year’s musical will be another performance that should not be missed.
Next, the orchestra played a light-hearted waltz entitled “The Christmas Waltz.” This was followed by the well-known piece, “The Sleigh Ride” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
The orchestra then performed a selection entitled “Shepherd’s Hey,” which Vos explained was not really a Christmas piece but rather a dance from the 1400s.
The highlight of the evening for many was a rather unique version of “Silent Night.” The version the orchestra chose was by Chip Davis and Calvin Custer.
This particular arrangement was made famous by a group called “Manheim Steamroller,” which was founded by Davis in the 1970s and later released on their album, “A Fresh Aire Christmas.”
This rendition, and an excellent cello solo by Brian Tolley, were warmly received by a very appreciative audience.
The Borderland Orchestra’s final selection was another “Sleigh Ride,” composed by Leroy Anderson, a 20th-century American composer who composed many short, light-hearted pieces for his friend, Arthur Fiedler, and the Boston Pops.
The famous lyrics to the Christmas song, which were added in 1950, depict “riding along in a wintery wonderland.”
With that seasonal thought in mind, Vos thanked everyone for attending, wished them a Merry Christmas, and encouraged them to have a safe ride home.