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Symphony Review: This year's Christmas concert is best ever

By William R. Wineke, Special to Channel 3000
Published On: Dec 02 2012 11:31:50 AM CST

MADISON, Wis. -

I know I say this every year, but this year's Madison Symphony Orchestra Christmas spectacular is the best ever.

I say that every year because the annual Christmas concert just keeps getting better.

The MSO is the host, but the concert also includes the Madison Symphony Chorus, the Madison Youth Choirs and the Mount Zion Baptist Church Gospel Choir.

Which means that hundreds of people are on the Overture Hall stage at any given time performing a wide range of holiday music, ranging from Schubert's "Mass Number 5 in A flat Major" to Amudson's "Reindeer Rock."

This year, the concert was preceded by the Symphony Chorus, 125 strong, standing on the second-floor balcony that surrounds the Overture Center main gathering area singing Christmas carols to patrons waiting to enter the concert hall.

The effect was ethereal. Had they just kept singing, the night would have been worthwhile.

Inside the hall, the concert began with more carols, these sung by members of the Youth Choirs, wearing robes and carrying battery-lit candles and standing in the aisles.

It was another moving addition to the popular seasonal concert.

Not new but still important, Music Director John DeMain uses the holiday concert to showcase young singers he thinks have a future in classical concert.

This year, Mezzo-Soprano Emily Fons, of Milwaukee, and Texas Tenor David Portillo made their MSO debuts. They each are beginning impressive careers but Fons, in particular, won the enthusiasm of the capacity audience with her rendition of "Laudemus te" from Mozart's "Mass in C Minor."

There's really not much more to say.  It was a great concert and is a great holiday tradition.

The concert will be repeated Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

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