The Kansas City Symphony & Chorus, Allegro Choirs, Rezound! Handbell Ensemble, and singer,Whitney Kaufman started the last seven days before Christmas with a . . . .ring, a sleigh ride, candles, smiles, and a few happy tears. One of the jobs of any organization is to sell enough tickets and make enough people happy to be around next year. The annual Christmas Festival, six sold out performances, using a lot of volunteer talent, helps to fulfill that goal.
The four ensembles and soloist performed individually and collectively, under the direction of Associate Conductor, Aram Demirjian to cover every (well, nearly) Christmas and holiday song known to the celebratory world. George Frideric Handel was represented with “For Us a Child is Born” by the KCS Chorus, and “Hallelujah,”with KC Symphony and Chorus, Allegro Choirs, and Rezound! Handbells Ensemble,” for as noisy and earth-moving a finale as would answer anyone’s wish. Santa Claus came to town, (musically and physically) Whitney Claire Kaufman charmingly sang, “Let It Go,” (if you don’t know the tune, ask any kid under 15) assisted by Symphony and the Allegro Choirs; Allegro Choirs sang “Walking in the Air.”
Rezound! Handbell Ensemble played “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” (which must be politically incorrect) using, among other bell-like things, bass choir chimes taller than the ringer and must be played in stationary position with a big ole mallet. The other bells and chimes are picked up to activate their clappers and hinged mallets. The sound is magical.
Ms Kaufman sang a medley of holiday songs, spaced into both program halves, and Santa Claus joined her to encourage the audience in the group sing-along of “Rudolph,” “Up on the Housetop,” “Deck the Halls,” Jingle Bells,” “Frosty,” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” (there, it got mentioned, although there was no mention of figgy pudding). There was fair singing, considering that many churches have shut down group-participation singing with microphoned song leaders.
As it exited the audience seemed primed for the joyous week of last-minute shopping celebration. Some of them even purchased cookies, available in the lobby before the program, at intermission, and afterward. Pictures with the aforementioned Santa Claus were available for a donation of $15, which offer went largely ignored. Maybe if he were still singing.
It may be presumed that the Christmas Festival will be be back next season. Would it sell out eight nights if everyone got a free cookie?