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DALLAS Arrow

Concert Review: Christmas Pops with Marvin Hamlisch Presented by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra at Meyerson Symphony Center

Marvin did something good this season when he took on-the-spot Hanukkah song title requests from the audience like we were all in an episode of Whose Line Is It Anyway?

Concert Review of Christmas Pops with Marvin Hamlisch Presented by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra at the Meyerson Symphony Center

Posted 12/3/10 | © Photo by Len Price

Here at The Flash List, we are constantly playing the 'movie quote' game. You know, someone quotes a line from a movie and then someone else guesses the name of the movie. Well, yesterday, just before the Christmas Pops concert with Marvin Hamlisch, we were playing guess this movie score. So we're listening to classical music, and one of us says, I don't think that's Caddyshack. (Yeah, that's how we roll around here.) And alas, it was not Caddyshack. (It was instead the Theme from Jurassic Park.)


No worries though, before the night was even out, thanks to Marvin Hamlisch and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, we were able to hear Waltz of the Flowers from The Nutcracker, our favorite golfing country club synchronized swimming accompanying tune (see video here).


And that was just the beginning. This Christmas Pops show, a fantastic kickoff to the holiday season, also gave us jingling bells, tap dancers, comedic acting, even flurries of 'snow' falling from the ceiling of the Meyerson! And what Christmas season is complete without the chorus singing O Holy Night (or a spicy, Brazilian flavored version of Sleigh Ride)?


All of this conducted by Marvin Hamlisch, an extremely accomplished composer having won three Oscars, four Grammys, four Emmys, a Tony, and three Golden Globes. He wrote the music for A Chorus Line, which received the Pulitzer Prize, and has composed more than forty motion picture scores including his Oscar-winning score and song for The Way We Were and his adaptation of Scott Joplin's music for The Sting. Add to that original compositions and/or musical adaptations for Sophie's Choice, Ordinary People, The Swimmer, Three Men and a Baby, Ice Castles, Take The Money and Run, Bananas, Save the Tiger, and his latest effort The Informant!, starring Matt Damon and directed by Steven Soderbergh. (To boot, we liked his cameo appearance in the film How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.)



As a child prodigy himself (mimicking radio music on the piano at age five and accepted into what is now the Juilliard School Pre-College Division at age seven), Hamlisch knows aptitude when he sees it. For this weekend's concert, he brought along a slew of young talent.


Vocalist Mikaela Schneider, whom Marvin met a year ago in Wisconsin, sang a breathtaking Ave Maria, and had you not known otherwise, you would never guess by the sound of her beautifully graceful voice that she was only fifteen. Ten-year-old flutist Emma Resmini followed. She related that at age three she heard a flute in a concert and apparently started trying to play the flute on everything. Her performance of Valse from Suite de Trois Morceaux and Morceau de Concours (all front stage and from memory, of course) was captivating and impeccable. To quote Marvin, When the woodwind section applauds, you know she's done something good. (See her videos here and here).


And Marvin did something good as well when he took on-the-spot Hanukkah song title requests from the audience like we were all in an episode of Whose Line Is It Anyway? and then promptly sat down at the piano and played us his rendition of Lots o' Latkes (title yelled out courtesy of the lady in the back).


There's something about those harp strings and bells that just rekindle that childlike holiday excitement. Throw in those flute melodies and some brass, and we're ready for Santa! It just took one wish (and a little searching around the building), and one crazy Claus turned up. After a little Elvis-esque singing and dancing, Santa made his way around the orchestra floor to take gift orders from the kids in the audience. Times, they are are a-changin' though. The crowd (and maybe Santa too) was more than a little surprised when the very adorable young David, with complete innocence and sincerity, responded that he was really hoping for a MacBook laptop. Hey, you go David; he is Santa after all!


After intermission, Hamlisch introduced us to Julian Nguyen, a violinist, and Austin Allen, who plays the vibraphone. Both boys are eighteen, and they met during their freshmen year at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. Their unique arrangement of Greensleeves (which had tones of Riverdance with a touch of August Rush) was pleasantly mesmerizing in a very interesting way that would make you and your buddies stand up and say, Dude, that was sick! (Which means really cool for you older folk. You know, those over 18.)


Speaking of standing up, go ahead and grab those lyrics in your program for the audience sing-a-long. Blow the dust off your Midnight Clear and get ready to belt it out in addition to that other song that's heard near the end of the very popular holiday movie (yep, now we have a quote for you) which contains the line, Teacher says, 'Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.' Aww, too easy. Thank you Zuzu.


In all, we especially love this show for those new to classical music or the symphony. The series of short musical arrangements and recognizable melodies interspersed with comedy and action make this ideal holiday entertainment for general audiences (and a great choice for a date).


See additional information below or visit:

Dallas Symphony Orchestra

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