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Choral Arts Society Family Christmas Concert

Ho Ho HoOn Sunday afternoon, Mini-Critic and I went to the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater, for the Family Christmas Concert presented by members of the Choral Arts Society. Associate conductor Joseph Holt led a fifty-minute program of Christmas favorites, with about 50 of the group's most dedicated singers in Santa hats, Rudolph antlers, and other crazy headgear. The house was fairly full of adults and mostly well-behaved children of all ages, who delighted in the appearances of Rudolph, Frosty, and Santa Claus. Oh, yeah, and there was music, too.

Mini-Critic is very suspicious of people in costumes, but he was very impressed by the piano. (I felt bad for the brass quintet, who mastly sat on stage like deer in the headlights and played only for a few numbers.) For Mini-Critic, as for many young children, Santa Claus is fine as an idea but absolutely terrifying as a presence. The same was true of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, whose nose actually flashed on and off. It was OK to watch his nose on the stage, but not if Rudolph tried to approach us in the audience. Mini-Critic liked Frosty the Snowman the best, because he has a carrot for a nose, and "that's just silly." As usual, he listened very politely to all of the musical selections, none of which was very remarkable, and even bounced in his seat a little during the one Hanukkah song ("Hanukkah, O Hanukkah").

The sequence of seasonal chestnuts was allegedly tied together with a flimsy narrative about La Befana, the legendary Epiphany witch who brings cake and toys to children in Italy on January 6. The relevance of that frame story was reduced with each new number. Obviously, children need some variation in this sort of program, so no harm done. The length of the concert was a child-appropriate 50 minutes, and the music was well performed, but not challenging. Mini-Critic enjoyed it but did not talk about it much afterwards. For children, this kind of concert is a safe bet.


Anonymous said...

I love the picture! (No, really, I do!)

Anonymous said...

Abby, 6, absolutely loved the whole thing. Maybe people above, say, 2, appreciate it more.

Jenny said...

As one of the "group's most dedicated singers" I just wanted to say thanks to you and mini-critic for coming! But I was sorry to hear that you didn't feel that any of the musical selections were very remarkable -- those of us performing would definitely disagree, as there were many very fun arrangements with doo-wop and 50's style harmonies. I realize that as one of the performers, I am a bit biased, but I personally felt it was a wonderful, varied program, and very well-suited for kids. My 4-year-old niece and her dad loved it (both this year and last), as did my co-worker and her young children.

The volunteer singers of the Choral Arts Society always work very hard to put energy, passion, and musicality into all of our performances -- as I'm sure you can imagine, this takes a lot of very hard work and rehearsal time. So, at the risk of sounding petulant -- it is a bit sad after all of that to see our efforts dismissed as "unremarkable" and "not challenging." It's possible that I am being overly sensitive, but I would just ask that you do keep in mind that the story and music were aimed towards children, and not adults. "Challenging" may not really be the kind of repertoire indicated for that situation.

Thanks for your review!

Charles T. Downey said...


As entertaining as your comments are, I have to say that I think you misunderstood the nature of this review. The person who was afraid of Santa Claus was my four-year-old son.

I'm glad you were so impressed by the concert. We enjoyed it, but obviously not as much as you did.