Although the Jacksonville Symphony’s 2018-2019 season is full of favorites, from Mozart to the movies, there is nothing quite like the energy that comes to Jacoby Symphony Hall during the holiday season. December is a time of year when there is such a mix of patrons in the hall: some may bring their family every year to the First Coast Nutcracker, and some may just be starting a family tradition when attending Holiday Pops for the first time.
The month of December begins with a classical performance full of music you are sure to recognize. A French Fantasy runs from November 30 through December 2 and features Dukas’ The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Ravel’s famous Boléro. Classical programs, much like movie scores or songs, often tell a story woven in sound by a composer. This particular program contains multiple works that tell a story; whether it’s the interpretation of paintings or a young apprentice who tries on a magical hat without permission, this music will take you on a journey.
The Jacksonville Symphony’s Holiday Pops has been around since the 1980s – that’s almost 40 years of holiday tradition! Holiday Pops is beloved by patrons and brings together the Jacksonville Symphony with the one-hundred-voice Jacksonville Symphony Chorus and Douglas Anderson dancers to perform some of your holiday favorites. You won’t want to miss Jacksonville’s indoor snowfall and maybe an appearance by jolly old St. Nick himself. The production has grown tremendously since its inception, so much so that the Symphony now presents seven different performances from Dec. 6 to Dec. 9.
Before Holiday Pops came into existence, another holiday tradition was thriving: the Jacksonville Symphony’s First Coast Nutcracker. The ballet first opened, with two sold out performances, in the Civic Center in 1972. Now with its 46th production, the Nutcracker tradition is as strong as ever with four public performances. What many may not know about First Coast Nutcracker is the additional education aspect of the production. The week of the public performances, the symphony hosts students from schools throughout Jacksonville with the goal of sharing holiday cheer with our First Coast students.
Of course, it wouldn’t be the holidays without George Frideric Handel’s grand Messiah. For patrons of classical music, Handel’s Messiah is as much a part of holiday tradition as lighting trees or drinking eggnog. Often thought of as “the greatest story ever told … the most majestic music ever conceived,” the orchestra’s performance of Messiah is a core part of holiday tradition in Jacoby Symphony Hall. You won’t want to miss the Jacksonville Symphony and Symphony Chorus!
Not to be forgotten in all the holiday cheer is New Year’s Eve from Vienna. For the first time, Music Director Courtney Lewis will lead the orchestra in an unforgettable performance of elegant Viennese classics followed by the New Year’s Eve party with the Chris Thomas Band. Add to that the riverside view of fireworks and the symphony may just have the toast of the town.
Symphony Rings in the New Year with Mozart
For the first time since Music Director Courtney Lewis has been with the Jacksonville Symphony, the organization will host a two week long festival featuring perhaps the most well-known classical composer of all time: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Beginning on January 11, three weekends of Mozart will take patrons through a variety of his musical compositions from an intimate atmosphere with chamber music to Mozart on the big screen with the Academy Award-winning film Amadeus performed live with orchestra. In addition to performances in Jacoby Symphony Hall, the orchestra will adventure to both the University of North Florida’s Lazzara Performance Hall and the WJCT studio to take Mozart out into the community.
The Midwinter Mozart Festival will conclude with a performance of what is considered by some to be the greatest opera ever written: Don Giovanni. For the first time ever, a full opera will be performed on the Jacoby Symphony Hall stage. Re-imagined with vivid projection and a world-class cast, Mozart’s glorious music will find new life in the Jacksonville Symphony’s production of Don Giovanni.
Even though the season has started, there are still plenty of opportunities to discover where the music will take you! For more information, visit JaxSymphony.org for event details, program notes and information on guest artists.