West Michigan Symphony perseveres to bring annual Holiday concert to a community in need of hope

Muskegon, Michigan, November 23, 2020—West Michigan Symphony’s 2020 Yuletide concert, titled “Home for the Holidays,” will take place as scheduled this season at 7:30 pm on Friday, December 11—but in the Symphony’s Virtual Concert Hall rather than for live audiences at the Frauenthal Center.

WMS shifted the concert—a favorite annual tradition in West Michigan—to a pre-produced webstream in an announcement made to ticket holders last August.  It was slated for production during nightly combined rehearse-and-record sessions November 16 through 19, held on the stage of the shuttered Frauenthal Center.

However, when the new Epidemic Orders from the Department of Health and Human Services were issued, WMS personnel quickly pivoted and arranged with the musicians, guest artists and venue to produce the entire event in a single marathon session on the evening of Tuesday the 17th.

The variety-packed program will include favorites like “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” “Somewhere in My Memory,” “Jingle Bells,”  “Joy to the World” and “Deck the Halls.”  Other works will include Anderson’s Sleigh Ride, Lauridsen’s O Magnum Mysterium, Bach’s Ave Maria and Mozart’s Exsultate, jubilate.  Soprano Diane Penning, a familiar friend to WMS audiences, will be one of the guest artists.  West Michigan will be introduced to a new artist performing on an unusual instrument: the amazing Stanislaw Venglevski and his Bayan, a Russian button accordion (as distinct from the traditional piano accordion).  Stas will perform a jaw-dropping solo of “Flight of the Bumblebee.” Peter Kurdziel will showcase the Frauenthal’s newly restored Barton theater organ.  Of course, the concert would not be complete without the annual appearance of the WMS Children’s Choir, safely recorded in a separate session.  

All musicians were checked for symptoms prior to entering the hall and required to wear masks throughout the session.

“We are excited to bring West Michigan ‘Home for the Holidays’ this December,” stated President & CEO Andy Buelow. “We hope this music brings good tidings of comfort and joy to all our friends and neighbors—when they need it most.”

The concert is sponsored by Warner Norcross+Judd LLP.  The 2020-2021 Season is sponsored by Nichols. To order online, visit westmichigansymphony.org or call 231/726-3231.

Michigan Arts & Culture Council
National Endowment for the Arts