The Christmas concert by Princeton Symphony Orchestra on December 17 was a show that could well be said to rival Radio City, tap dancing toy soldiers and all. PSO always gives us superb performances but this one was really special. The program varied from popular favorites, such as an absolutely classic rendition of Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride to Archangelo Corelli’s Concerto Grosso, opus 6, number 8 – the Christmas Concerto.
Corelli was known for emphasizing the violin in his compositions and in performing this exquisite Baroque work; the PSO was fully up to actualizing what must have been the composer’s expectations for the string section, as well as the rest of the orchestra.
In addition to the orchestra’s outstanding performance, the show also included the New Jersey Tap Dance Ensemble, beautifully costumed as toy soldiers, who did a delightful version of Victor Herbert’s March of the Toys (usually referred to as March of the Toy Soldiers) from Babes in Toyland — a piece that always reminds me of one of my own Christmas Season favorites, Laurel & Hardy’s “March of the Wooden Soldiers.” The ensemble performed flawlessly and the comparison with Radio City’s Rockettes is far from unreasonable.
A real treat was the performance of the Princeton High School Choir, which sang both traditional carols and an arrangement of the traditional spiritual “Let Me Fly.” If you think Glee presented a picture of an impossibly gifted high school, you simply haven’t experienced a performance by Princeton High School. They make the kids in Glee look like amateurs. Princeton’s huge and amazing choral program has attracted audiences in performances all over the western world. The chorus has performed in Moscow, Latvia, Estonia, Prague, Dresden, Budapest, Vienna, St. Petersburg, England, Paris, Chartres Cathedral and many more impressive venues and has worked with many world famous composers and conductors. All I can say is they make pure magic in song.
The show closed with sing-along of well-known carols that was great fun. PSO conductor and music director Rossen Milanov, Princeton High School Choir director Vincent Metallo and Deborah Mitchell, artistic director of the New Jersey Tap Dance ensemble worked together too give us a marvelous experience for the Christmas Season.
Keep up with future Symphony performances at www.princetonsymphony.org.