Deck the (Symphony) Hall with Boughs of Holly!

Patrick Graham

Photos by Tiffany Manning

As the weather starts to cool and the festive decorations come out, the joyous sounds of the holidays begin to waft through the air, much like the smell of chestnuts roasting on an open fire. The light of menorahs and string lights twinkle throughout our office buildings, homes, and windows. The scarves and sweaters are removed from the depths of our Floridian closets, and we eagerly look forward to traditions of baking cookies or singing carols. Yet, regardless of the holiday traditions or activities we attentively adhere to, there is one common theme that ties us all together: music.

Katharine Caliendo

As is no surprise, the Jacksonville Symphony has no lack of music to be heard during the month of December. But the holiday season at the symphony would not be complete without you, our audience. Every year we are overjoyed that you choose to make us a part of your holiday traditions. We wanted to take the time to share some of our holiday traditions with you. Every time you attend a symphony concert you see them on stage, but what do the musicians of the Jacksonville Symphony do over their holidays? 

Jason Lindsay

Symphony clarinetist Patrick Graham takes off for the holidays and travels to Canada to see the snow, something he hasn’t seen much of since traveling to Florida. 

Horn player Katharine Caliendo and her family celebrate the holidays by passing out baklava on Christmas Eve and drinking hot chocolate.

Bassist Jason Lindsay travels to Destin, Florida for the holidays to spend time with his family. While there, he, a long-time childhood friend, and Jason’s son put together a huge Hot Wheels track. 

Anthony Anurca

Bassoonist Anthony Anurca may have one of the more interesting holiday traditions. He and his family, along with a few close friends, get together and do Christmas karaoke. Although it’s put together around the holiday season, those participating can sing any tune, holiday-related or not.

Kenneth Every

Principal Timpanist Kenneth Every and his family have a busy holiday season. They celebrate Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights in the fall and Hanukah closer to the winter season with fried foods, such as latkes, and listening to klezmer music. In addition, they celebrate Christmas with a tree, and, of course, they round out New Year’s Eve with the concert and after-party with the Jacksonville Symphony. 

Now that you know a little more about the symphony’s musicians and their holiday seasons, we hope you’ll join us for yours. All December long, Jacoby Symphony Hall is brimming with good tidings and cheer. So many good tidings, and so much cheer, that for one weekend in December, the symphony is performing in both the Moran Theater and Jacoby Symphony Hall. Families gather to see the symphony’s performance of Holiday Pops for the first, or the fiftieth, time while visions of sugarplums dance, quite literally, across the hall for one of the largest productions of the season: First Coast Nutcracker. Between the indoor snowfall and glimmering ballerinas, these two performances will have you ready to hang your stockings and brew hot chocolate. 

The voices of the symphony’s one-hundred-person chorus ring through the hall during Handel’s Messiah, one of the most inspiring stories to ever be set to music. And, as Principal Timpanist Kenneth Every says, the holidays are rounded out with a rousing New Year’s Eve performance. With dancing, champagne, and the best fireworks view in town, it’s a not-to-be-missed event!

You can find more information about the Jacksonville Symphony and upcoming concerts at

Author: Arbus

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