The Longview Symphony Orchestra’s “Home for the Holidays” concert is taking on a different look this year.
The concert, set for Dec. 4 and 6, will be a virtual experience.
And although it’s not the symphony’s first online concert, Executive Director Niki Groce said it is a new adventure.
“We have never put on a virtual concert of this magnitude before,” Groce said. “We started talking about our ‘Home for the Holidays’ concert in June, and obviously with COVID-19 and the pandemic going on, we started talking about the fact that most likely we would not be able to gather.”
Groce said the team waited until the end of summer and made the decision to present the paid event virtually. (The symphony’s “Sounds of Summer” virtual concerts were free.)
“That ensured that not only would our patrons be safe, but our musicians as well,” she said. “I’m so glad we made that decision, especially with cases spiking right now. Our ‘Home for the Holidays’ concert literally became a home for the holidays concert, and we started looking at the best way to make this happen.”
Groce said the concert features more than 50 musicians who performed their musical pieces at home and sent in their videos.
“We sent everything to our videographer, who is putting not only the music together but the video as well,” she said. “I have listened to the music already, and it sounds absolutely beautiful.”
The concert also will feature Maestro Jerry Steichen along with some special guests.
“Laquita Mitchell is an acclaimed New York soprano opera singer, and Maryah McHam is a local singer who has performed in our ‘Sounds of Summer’ concerts,” Groce said. “And we have the Hurst Handbells of First United Methodist Church.”
And of course, Groce said, you can’t have a Christmas concert without Santa.
“So, we are fortunate to have Santa Flavious and Joshua the Elf joining us,” she said.
And what can viewers expect from Santa?
“There’s going to be a story time with Santa along with my favorite elf, Joshua,” Santa Flavious said. “The interesting thing about the story time is it’s sort of like a pop-up book in that you’re going to see it come to life. As Santa is reading the story, through the magic of Christmas, the story will in fact come to life.”
Groce said it has been amazing to see how everyone pulled together to make sure the concert is a success.
“The level of enthusiasm we had from our musicians, our board and our sponsors has been wonderful,” she said. “It certainly has been a difficult year for everyone — for the cultural arts as well — and we’ve all had to think outside the box and come up with ways to continue to bring music to our community.”
Groce said after hearing some of the finished pieces, she feels like the concert is really coming together in a positive way.
“It’s incredible, and I must mention that our Maestro Jerry Steichen is the person who has put all of this together,” she said. “His imagination and gift of bringing all of this together and putting so much into it, I truly must give him credit for such an incredible program.”
Groce said the concert finale, “Hallelujah Chorus,” will be performed with the Mobberly Baptist Church Choir.
“Our goal is to bring you some wonderful music, yet keep you healthy and happy at home this season,” she said.
Santa Flavious said, “We hope for a better Christmas next year where we can all gather together and do this in person. But in the meantime, we bring you the very next best thing.”