It’s not the holidays without music and it’s certainly not the holidays in Jacksonville without the Jacksonville Symphony. This year’s holiday program has been expanded to include new offerings along with old favorites. Here’s a peek at how you can get the holiday spirit.
Starting the Saturday afternoon of Thanksgiving, the symphony will be playing the score to the film Home Alone at 7 p.m. This movie classic, which will be shown on the big screen over the orchestra on stage at Jacoby Hall, is the highest grossing Christmas movie of all time. Joe Pesci, Macaulay Culkin and John Williams’ score all combine to bring a new understanding of what family means during the holidays.
The symphony’s Holiday Pops, which provide Jacksonville’s only guaranteed snowfall, has an expanded schedule: Performances start on Thursday, December 7 at 7 p.m. and include shows on Friday, December 8 at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m., Saturday, December 9 at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sunday, December 10 at 3 p.m. Guest performers include Caitlin McKechney, mezzo-soprano, the Douglas Anderson School of the Arts’ dancers, a return visit by the Melodica Men and a first visit from the renowned Bethel Baptist Institutional Church Choir.
Of course it wouldn’t be the holidays without The Nutcracker and Handel’s Messiah. The First Coast Nutcracker will be conducted by Deanna Tham, the symphony’s new assistant conductor and principal conductor of the Jacksonville Symphony Youth Orchestras. Presented by VyStar Credit Union, the First Coast Nutcracker has been a North Florida tradition for over forty years. There will be three performances: on Friday, December 15 at 8 p.m., Saturday, December 16 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sunday, December 17 at 2 p.m.
Across the hall, in the Moran Theatre, that weekend, Nathan Aspinall, the symphony’s associate conductor, will conduct Handel’s Messiah. Guest artists include soprano Emily Birsan, mezzo-soprano Amanda Crider, tenor Jason Ferrante and baritone Craig Irvin. Performances are scheduled for Saturday, December 16 at 8 p.m., and Sunday, December 17 at 3 p.m.
Director Frank Capra released many classics but none more heart-tugging than It’s a Wonderful Life. Featuring Donna Reed and Jimmy Stewart, the film will be shown with the orchestra playing the score on Saturday, December 22 at 7 p.m. Start a new family holiday tradition with a movie that, according to critic Roger Ebert, “…can be viewed an indefinite number of times.”
Out with the old and in with the new at the Jacksonville Symphony’s New Year’s Eve celebration. This year, conductor Timothy Hankewich and performer Tomáš Kubínek will create some Orchestral Lunacy starting at 9 p.m. Then join the after-party (tickets sold separately) to dance, drink champagne and watch the fireworks over the St. Johns River. Concert begins at 9 p.m.
Find more information about the Jacksonville Symphony and its holiday events at jaxsymphony.org.