TSO invites you to wear your ugly holiday sweater

2013-12-19T00:00:00Z TSO invites you to wear your ugly holiday sweaterBy Cathalena E. Burch Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

There will be ugly holiday sweaters, Christmas carols, ballet dancers, glorious choirs and a surprise or two at the Tucson Symphony Orchestra’s “Magic of Christmas” concerts this weekend.

Did we mention the ugly sweaters?

“Dress up in your holiday spirit, and your ugly sweater,” said guest conductor Keitaro Harada, who will lead the TSO in two performances at Tucson Music Hall this weekend.

This is the second year the TSO has mounted “Magic of Christmas,” but for longtime fans of the orchestra’s annual Christmas pops concert, it will seem far more familiar. The show was born of the orchestra’s longtime “Holiday Spectacular” concerts, events that involved vocalists, dancers and enough holiday splendor to last you until the next year’s performance.

“Magic of Christmas” takes it a notch or two higher.

The program includes performances by the TSO Chorus, led by Bruce Chamberlain; Tucson Regional Ballet; the Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus; and a trio of Tucson dancers: Miro Tymosiak, Diana Madaras and Ramona Daniels. Special guests include Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild and Santa Claus.

Harada, making his “Magic of Christmas” debut at the podium, said the concert also will include ballroom dancers and “a couple surprise guests that I can’t tell you.”

“We have definitely created a program that’s pretty awesome. It flows well,” said Harada, who guest-conducts TSO Rocks the Fox concerts at Fox Tucson Theatre and has a relationship with the orchestra that dates to his days at the University of Arizona School of Music in 2008. Harada also is music director and conductor of the Phoenix Youth Symphony and associate conductor for Arizona Opera.

The program includes classic Christmas carols including “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,” “It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and “Deck the Halls” alongside Percy Faith’s “Brazilian Sleigh Bells,” James A. Beckel’s “A Christmas Fanfare,” and a pair of Alan Silvestri works from the film “The Polar Express” — Suite from “The Polar Express” and “Spirit of the Season.”

“My goal was to be sure we had something for everyone at Christmastime,” said TSO President and CEO Andrew Birgensmith. “We have achieved that goal.”

Harada said this marks the first time in his career that he has worked with the ballet and the chorus on one stage.

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