This Saturday, Dec. 12, at 8 p.m., the annual Holiday Pops Concert comes to Mechanics Hall in Worcester. Anchored by the Massachusetts Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Myron Romanul, the event features the Chorus of the Worcester Consortium, directed by WPI’s John Delorey.
The Holiday Pops has been a local favorite on the December calendar for 36 years—sold out for the past 35 and almost sold out for this weekend. (Any tickets still available can be reserved by calling the Symphony office at 508-754-1234.)
Delorey is director of choral music at WPI, as well as the chorus master for the Massachusetts Symphony Orchestra. The Chorus of the Worcester Consortium is composed of 250 singers from WPI, Clark, Assumption, Worcester State University, and Anna Maria. (Holy Cross is unable to participate this year because of a scheduling conflict.)
Alumni also come back to sing, “especially the young ones who don’t yet have a chorus to come back to,” says Delorey. “It’s a real tradition for WPI alums to sing along and bring back some good memories.”
The emphasis at the Pops is on light and entertaining holiday music, complete with sing-a-longs, a twirling aerialist, a dancing Christmas tree, and a visit from Santa Claus himself.
On the program this year are selections from The Nutcrackerby Tchaikovsky, popular Christmas songs and carols, highlights from Verdi’s La Traviata and Strauss’s Die Fliedermaus, and The Night Before Christmas with narrator Jim Polito.
Richard Monroe and Jane Shivick will perform solos in the “Danse Chinoise” and “Dance Arabe” fromThe Nutcracker.
The chorus will present the South African piece “Bawo Thixo Somandla,” arranged by John Delorey, which it previewed last week at WPI’s Pops Concert. An a cappella number will give the singers a chance to shine without the orchestra.
Aerialist Gina DeFreitas will again perform directly above the audience in an exciting interlude.
“She hasn’t fallen yet,” jokes Delorey.
Holiday music is infectious, and with three sing-along medleys built into the program, the audience will have plenty of opportunity to join in.
The venue’s set-up encourages a more intimate concert, with tables of 12 arranged on the main floor cabaret-style, and more seating in the balcony. Groups of friends, families, and co-workers—including WPI alumni—make a tradition of the evening by reserving tables year after year.
Participating is voluntary for the college singers, but rehearsals are rigorous. They rehearse weekly throughout the fall and can miss only two (as long as they attend make-up sessions). No one who misses the dress rehearsal can perform.
“It’s tough love,” Delorey says. “But it provides a great product!”
He finds this concert particularly fun, not only because of the opportunity to work with students across the city but also because the choral portion of the program is always an audience favorite.
And, he says, “It is great to have the students heard and appreciated by such a large and appreciative audience. This is a holiday tradition for so many Worcester families and having our students be part of this is a very rare treat.”
For more information, call 508 754-1234. Tickets are $45 (floor table) and $37 (balcony) seating.