Even though Columbus Symphony Orchestra chorus and chamber chorus conductor Ronald Jenkins has conducted 112 performances since 1983, he still looks forward to Holiday Pops, he said.
Jenkins said the show always is fresh for patrons and a challenge for him.
“I think the stress point for me is to keep the concert balanced, and when I say balanced, something that is challenging for the chorus ... to keep them excited about the program and to keep the orchestra involved by giving them new pieces, not the same old, same old,” Jenkins said.
Performances are scheduled at 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6; 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7; and 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8, in the Ohio Theatre, 39 E. State St. in downtown Columbus.
Tickets are $25 to $78 and may be purchased at the Columbus Association of the Performing Arts ticket center, 39 E. State St., online at columbussymphony.com or by calling 614-469-0939 or 800-982-2787.
Holiday Pops will be a potpourri of holiday numbers, dance and audience participation, Jenkins said.
Among the sacred songs are “Sing unto God” and “Hallelujah, Amen” (from the oratorio “Judas Maccabaeus”) by composer George Frideric Handel.
New music includes Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “Wassail Song,” which also incorporates song and dance, Stephen Main’s “Blessed Be That Maid Mary” and “Sweet Little Jesus Boy,” an African American spiritual for choir featuring countertenor Arthur Marks.
Some songs are humorous, such as Gary Fry’s “The Day After Christmas.”
“It’s just hysterical,” Jenkins said. “It’s very, very funny.”
Hanukkah songs also will be part of the lineup.
Holidays Pops will include “And Suddenly!” featuring the New World Singers of the Columbus Children’s Choir.
Jenkins said a highlight of the annual show is when a child gets to conduct “Sleigh Ride” in front of the crowd.
During intermission of each show, a young person’s name is drawn and the child is given a 3-minute conducting lesson before being invited on stage.
“Yeah, it’s a big deal,” said Jenkins, 79.
Santa will make his 36th appearance as the annual Holiday Pops and be available for photos in the lobby after both matinee performances.
The audience will be invited to join in singing “Deck the Halls,” “O Come All Ye Faithful” and “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.”
Columbus Symphony concertmaster Joanna Frankel will be featured in “White Christmas.”
“It’s important for me that the audience is not just coming to a pops concert, but they’re also not coming to a classical concert,” Jenkins said. “This might sound cheesy, but it’s a one-stop-shop show.”
Rolanda Copley, a symphony spokeswoman, agreed with Jenkins.
“Holiday Pops literally has something for everyone,” Copley said. “The music selections touch all aspects of why the holidays are so special. From sacred music to carols to modern favorites, you’ll find yourself smiling and singing along with thousands of your closest friends.”