Symphony Keeps the Holiday Spirit Alive

Who can believe it’s been almost a year since the words coronavirus and COVID-19 came into our lives? Almost a year of keeping a safe distance from other people, being overly cautious of large events, and integrating masks into our daily lives. Although the search for hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes may have finally come to an end as they return to store shelves, our search for human connection is still ongoing. 

Photo: Laura Evans

With the return of the Jacksonville Symphony in September also came the return of being able to experience live music with each other. As we come into the holiday season, the desire for togetherness increases as the temperature (hopefully) decreases. The good news is that there’s nothing quite like music to bring people and communities together. 

Although the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts will not be as full as it has been in previous years, the holiday spirit will still ring true throughout the building. Wreaths will deck Jacoby Symphony Hall and the magical Christmas tree will stand tall in the Moran Theater, awaiting Clara and her nutcracker. 

The symphony’s holiday season schedule looks almost exactly as it usually does. The season begins with a youthful expression of holiday tunes with the Jacksonville Symphony Youth Orchestras’ (JSYO) Holiday Concert on December 7. The JSYO has been rehearsing, physically distanced, in the Times-Union Center since September. Ranging from beginners to the more experienced high school students, the Holiday Concert celebrates music education and expression from our local students.

The next weekend brings the timeless tradition of the First Coast Nutcracker back to the Moran Theater. To adhere to safety protocols, the ballet will be shortened to an hour, but still embrace the childlike imagination and joy of Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece. The two lead dancers are partners in both their professional and personal lives, creating a safe environment on the dance floor. The other dancers, including the lead of Clara, are from Douglas Anderson School of the Arts. Since these dancers already see and rehearse with each other every week at school, it was a safe way to bring this performance alive. 

While dancers grace the Moran stage, singers and the other half of the symphony will be on its home stage in a physically distanced Jacoby Symphony Hall for Handel’s Messiah. Although the performance will be missing the voices of the Symphony Chorus, the symphony will be joined by four masked, world-class guest vocalists. Also reduced to an hour, the performance will feature favorite selections from Messiah.

The season concludes with Holiday Pops on December 17-20 and a concert on New Year’s Eve featuring the sounds of The Rat Pack. Holiday Pops has been relocated to the Moran Theater this season for additional seating for a concert that is one of the most popular on the symphony’s annual schedule. 

We hope you’ll join us for another holiday season filled with the sounds of the Jacksonville Symphony.

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Author: Arbus

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