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Rejoice to sounds of season at restored BSO holiday concert

Carl Topilow Pic

Carl Topilow, guest conductor for the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra's Home for the Holiday concert on Saturday, is founding conductor of the Cleveland Pops Orchestra as well as director of the Cleveland Institute of Music's orchestral program.

Good heavens! If the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra’s holiday concert program was Santa’s bag, it couldn’t be more chocked full of musical goodies.

Saturday's restored holiday concert at the Fox Theater, titled “Home for the Holidays,” looks like it’s going to remain an annual event, with a strong sponsor in Adventist Health and the ongoing collaboration with the choral program at Bakersfield College.

But the real reason has got to be the programming.

Whoever put this program together managed to pull together so many traditions and sources that everyone will be happy. From the simple serenity of “Silent Night” to the extravagant Robert Shaw-Robert Russell Bennett “Many Moods of Christmas,” the BSO and the BC singers will entertain and involve the audience with a such diverse elements as the Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s “Christmas Eve: Sarajevo,” “Christmas on Broadway,” Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride” — an absolute must — and such child-centered selections as the suite from “Polar Express” and “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” and even “The Chipmunk Song” (!).

Guest conductor Carl Topilow will lead the orchestra and perform as a soloist. Topilow, among other conducting credits, is the founding conductor of the Cleveland Pops Orchestra and the head of the orchestral conducting program at the Cleveland Institute of Music. He is also a stellar clarinetist. Topilow will perform two pieces with the orchestra: his own “Clarinet Hanukkah,” a klezmer-inspired medley celebrating the Festival of Lights, and Leroy Anderson’s “Clarinet Candy,” with other clarinetists in the orchestra.

The BC singers, who already figure heavily in the program, will also perform a couple of tour-de-force pieces of their own: “Alleluia,” by Jake Runestad, and the premier Ron Kean’s setting of the Medieval text, “There is No Rose of Such Virtue,” featuring a new orchestral arrangement by Jack Bertrand, choral director at North High School.

BSO executive director Kari Heilman is hoping for a long-term relationship with the choir.

“That’s hasn’t been totally decided, but we love having them and working with them,” Heilman said. "... And (BC choir director) Jennifer Garrett is just amazing.”

Just in case they’ve left anything out of the program, the finale of the concert will be a sing-along of favorite holiday songs and carols.

Tickets for the concert range from $20-$50, and are available at the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra website and at the Fox Theater website.

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