Columbus Jazz Orchestra to provide favorite holiday evenings
When Columbus Jazz Orchestra Artistic Director Byron Stripling talks about Christmas music, he tends to sing along.
“I love the song ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’ because it really offers love to everyone,” said Stripling. “One of the words read, ‘Good news to you and your loved ones.’ I mean, who doesn’t like it?
He also likes the worms on the fig pudding.
Then there is “The Christmas Song”, which Stripling fell in love with thanks to the classic performances of Nat King Cole.
“‘Chestnuts roasting over an open fire, …” “Stripling sang – uh, said – quoting a famous passage.
“It makes me think of my parents, my brother, my family,” he said of the song, which he calls his favorite Christmas song.
Columbus’ Christmas music master will lead the Columbus Jazz Orchestra in a full course performance of holiday music during the final installment of “Home for the Holidays.”
The orchestra’s annual holiday program, which was performed virtually last December, began this year on December 1 and will run daily through December 5, at the Southern Theater. The performance on December 3 at 8 p.m. will also be broadcast live at www.jag.tv.
While the program will feature many popular tunes and sacred works that have become ubiquitous, Stripling said that good jazz arrangements – and lively orchestral playing – can refresh even the most stale song.
Take “Jingle Bells”, which is due to be played this weekend.
“See, this is the most cheesy song,” Stripling said. “When I ask people to fix it, they say, ‘I don’t want to fix this!’ … But we find ways to really brighten them up.
Guest singer Vanessa Campagna, a singer and songwriter from Nashville, Tennessee, who doesn’t hesitate to play the classics, will help Stripling and her company.
“Classics are the best,” said Campagna, 28, of Beaver Falls, Pa. “What’s going to be really fun is revisiting (them) with one of the greatest bands of all time, and with Byron. I am so excited to be doing it with them.
For Campagna, who is about to perform versions of “Rockin ‘Around the Christmas Tree”, “White Christmas” and “O Holy Night” with the orchestra, Christmas music is a way of life.
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“Growing up in western Pennsylvania, a lot of people only listen to Christmas music all year round,” she said. “I don’t know if it’s because it’s cold most of the time, but they’re still right in the spirit.”
Stripling promises lesser-known selections, including excerpts from Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn’s reimagining of Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker”. Jazz legends took Tchaikovsky’s “Sugar Plum Fairy Dance” and produced “Sugar Rum Cherry”.
“We’re going to put it upside down,” Stripling said. “I hope we have a smile, or that the ballet people are grossed out by what we’re doing.”
Not that the goal of the orchestra is to do anything other than to please.
“When people come to our vacation show, I need to see people pat their feet, clap their hands and I need to see that nod and then finally I need to see people smile. “said Stripling. “And then I know I did my job. “
And rest assured: Stripling loves these old chestnuts. He just won’t program the one Christmas song he doesn’t care about.
“All the songs I love,” he said, “except ‘Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer’”.
In one look
The Columbus Jazz Orchestra will perform “Home for the Holidays” at 7:30 p.m. on December 2, at 8 p.m. December 3 to 16, and at 3 p.m. on December 5 at the Southern Theater, 21 E. Main St. The show at 8:00 p.m. December 3 will be broadcast live at www.jag.tv. Masks and proof of vaccination compulsory. Customers are encouraged to use the Bindle recording app. Tickets cost $ 10 to $ 68, or $ 20 for the livestream. For more information visit www.jazzartsgroup.org.