Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Ashley Brown Joins the TSO for Christmas

The TSO Pops Christmas is a tradition that helps get everyone in the holiday spirit.  This year Ashley Brown joined the celebration as the guest vocalist.  There aren't enough adjectives to describe how great she is and how well she hosted the concert.  Apparently it's a program she jointly created with TSO Pops conductor Steven Reineke, well at least the vocal parts.  Ashley mentioned collaborating a year ago on creating medleys and introducing Steven to a new song, a feat she was particularly proud of given his vast knowledge of the music world.

One of the collaborations was the "Holiday Hits Medley" which closed the first half.  It was a mix of popular songs from the radio that are rarely heard in a concert setting.  Backed with a strong percussion section, Patricia Krueger on piano, and the rest of the orchestra Ashley demonstrated her pops singing style.  The medley started with Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas is You", moved to "Hard Candy Christmas" delivered with a twinge of Dolly Parton twang, and finished with the always popular "Feliz Navidad".

I can't believe I missed
her red shoes in this photo!
Shifting back to earlier in the program, Ashley brought a Judy Garland swing sound to "Winter Wonderland Medley" and even wore shiny ruby slippers :)  Cindy Lou Who's version of "Christmas, Why Can't I Find You" from The Grinch and "The Secret of Christmas" (popularized by Ella Fitzgerald, this was the song Ashley introduced to Steven) were touching and tender.

There were also multiple times where Ashley was just herself as she talked about her family, the meaning songs held for her, and sang in her beautiful clear voice.  One of my favourites was "Yes, Virginia" which is from a
musical created in partnership with Macy's based on the popular letter to the editor of the New York Sun.  It's a great song and she's clearly no stranger to interacting with children as she invited kids from the audience to join her on stage as she sang.

Ashley's final song, "O Holy Night", proved there was no need to visit Yuletide Celebration with the Indianapolis Symphony this year.  She sang the same arrangement I expect Yuletide host Sandi Patty did and it was fantastic!
Santa getting in on the
conducting action!

The orchestra wasn't left out and showed their skill with steadfast tempos and dynamic variations in "Little Bolero Boy" (one of my favourites), and got swinging to show off the brass in "Jingle Bell Rock".

Yet another wonderful Christmas concert with everything except "Sleigh Ride" (which I heard someone else comment on when leaving).  But that's okay because dropping it every now and again leaves room for some new music, and I thoroughly enjoyed the new pieces I hadn't heard before that were included this year.  Merry Christmas!