Vacation South Bend Symphony Orchestra Morris Performing Arts Center

The Boston Pops remain the gold standard in how to do symphonic pop concerts. Particularly during the tenure of conductor Arthur Fiedler, the Boston pops lent orchestral majesty to beloved tunes in a way that has proven immensely popular with audiences.

On December 18 and 19, South Bend Symphony Orchestra presents his “Maison pour les Fêtes” concerts at Morris Performing Arts Center in South Bend. Guest conductor Chelsea Tipton II said he was delighted to open the concerts with one of the most brilliant arrangements of Boston Pops: the “Christmas Scherzo”, composed by Don Sebesky. In less than four minutes, the piece zooms in on “Bring a Torch, Jeannette, Isabella”, “Here We Come A-Wassailing”, “The Holly and the Ivy”, “I Saw Three Ships”, “O Come All Ye Faithful “and” Tannenbaum. ”

A more recent piece, “Minor Alterations” by David Lovrien, opens the second half of the concert with another equally ambitious medley.

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“It takes familiar Christmas carols and shifts them from their major keys to minor ones,” Tipton said by phone from Beaumont, TX, where he is musical director of The Symphony of Southeast Texas. “It’s a great way to surprise audiences. It’s also good for musicians. There are certain songs that they have to play every year, and they can do them while they sleep. ‘Minor Alterations’ is less familiar. and it takes time. work. Players love a challenge.

One of the show’s guest singers, soprano Emilie Lynn, echoes this sentiment. She enjoys taking on a new original assignment, such as “Mele Kalikimaka”, the Hawaiian Christmas issue made famous in a 1950 hit version by Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters. Lynn always liked it but never had the chance to interpret it.

Emilie Lynn will be guest singer of the South Bend Symphony Orchestra for her "Home for the holidays" concerts.

“It’s really different. I was surprised to see her on the list,” Lynn said by phone from Round Lake Beach, Ill.. “I grew up with this song and always thought it was a lot of fun. I was so excited and happy that I could work on it and play it at these shows.”

Lynn already knows the other guest singer, Devin DeSantis, well. In November, Lynn and DeSantis completed a long collaboration in “Kinky Boots” at the Paramount Theater in Aurora, Illinois. They also worked together in other shows, including a vacation program. This is invaluable when working on timing on duets. Lynn says she can’t wait to perform as a duet on “The Prayer”, written by the crew of David Foster, Carole Bayer Sager, Alberto Testa and Tony Renis.

“Devin and I have sung this one together before, and we both really enjoy this song,” Lynn said. “It’s always been one of my mom’s favorite songs too. I think that’s going to be one of the biggest lessons to be learned from it – hearing this song with the symphony behind us should be pretty exciting.”

Most professional singers have to spend the majority of their time performing roles, but a holiday performance does not involve such masks.

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“In an opera or a musical, you are not yourself. You are a character. With a holiday concert, we get to be like anyone in the audience,” says Lynn. “I can just be myself up there, share some joy – and maybe tears – and it’s a wonderful feeling of community.”

Tipton has conducted the SBSO twice before, at the MLK Day Celebration Concerts in 2017 and 2020. He has also recently worked with Sting. A conductor needs to be versatile, and the wide range of music in “Home for the Holidays” is a sign of the times.

“When young musicians tell me they want to get into classical music, I first tell them ‘Great!’ But I tell them they have to be versatile, ”says Tipton. “They’re good at making all kinds of music. Even within this program, there’s a variety of styles.”

In 2011, Tipton prepared orchestras for a 15-country “Symphonicity” tour with Sting. He reunited with the rock star last month at a concert in the hometown of Tipton, Greensboro, NC Tipton saw firsthand the excitement that singers can generate.

“People want to go on stage and dance with Sting,” Tipton says. “Obviously we can’t have people coming on stage, but it’s so great to have that kind of kinetic connection. Having Emilie and Devin with us will help engage the audience more, more engaged.”

In concert

South Bend Symphony Orchestra, “Home for the Holidays”

Where: Morris Performing Arts Center, 211 N. Michigan St., South Bend

When: 7:30 p.m. on December 18; 2:30 p.m. December 19

Cost: $ 70 to $ 10

For more information: Call 574-235-9190 or visit

COVID-19 protocols: All clients are required to wear face masks, regardless of their immunization status.

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