Highmark ‘Holiday Pops’ Delivers Holiday Magic for All Ages

Maestro Daniel Meyer conducts the always spectacular Pittsburgh Symphony through a tour-de-force of well-known holiday classics in various stylistic presentations. 

ByJessica Neu

Holiday magic can be defined in myriad ways as it is a unique experience, feeling, or emotion to any individual, young or old. The Pittsburgh Symphony’s Highmark Holiday Pops somehow captures so many beautiful nuggets of holiday magic, making for a joyous night, whether young or young at heart. Audiences’ sentiments will vary based on what the holidays mean to them, but this show truly encapsulates something for everyone. With an eclectic blend of holiday songs representing Christmas and Chanukah, Holiday Pops delivers a sense of holiday magic and music expertise with joyous surprises throughout the two-hour show. 

The performance opens with a toe-tapping medley of seasonal favorites, which also introduces the breathtaking Mendelson Choir of Pittsburgh, who accompany the orchestra on several pieces. Their accompaniment adds depth to the rich symphonic holiday arrangements, making Heinz Hall feel more like Carnegie Hall. Holiday Pops also features selections from The Nutcracker, with featured dancers from the current Pittsburgh Ballet‘s production playing at the Benedum Center. The dancers beautifully execute what I would presume to be re-blocked choreography since they have merely the proscenium to perform en pointe. The quality of the dancer’s movement is simply outstanding, and at this moment, I noticed the choir and musicians also admiring the dancers. The performance structure allows artists to become spectators in their own space. There was something so special about seeing the admiration and holiday joy present on the performer’s faces as they watched their peers come together to make the show whole. 

Singers Blaine Alden Krauss and Christopher Sanders deliver impeccable vocal performances throughout the show, adding another stylistic dimension to this concert. Their charisma is engaging, but Krauss’ control and precision in “The Christmas Song” creates an atmosphere of purity and elegance that conjures up tear-shedding emotion. 

Never neglecting the sense that Holiday Pops is a show for all ages, the symphony’s ability to turn their music into action by using instruments to create the sounds of reindeer galloping and sleighs flying had my children scanning the room for Rudolph. While Rudolph was not present, to the audience’s delight, Santa appeared straight from the North Pole to visit all the good folks of Pittsburgh. His engagement with the audience transformed Heinz Hall into the North Pole, and his humor was enough to make adults believe again. He even apologized for being late because he was busy preparing Taylor Swift tickets. 

Meyer also shared in Santa’s humor as he welcomed audiences to Acrisure Hall and continued to deliver Pittsburgh and Christmas-themed jokes throughout the night, further elevating the joy and wonderment of the palpable spirit in the room. 

So, whether you are 1 or 92, Highmark Holiday Pops has something for you. Playing at Heinz Hall on December 10, 11, 16, 17, and 18, this performance will help your heart grow a few sizes larger while reminding you of the meaning of the season.

For more information and tickets visit: https://www.pittsburghsymphony.org/production/77359/highmark-holiday-pops

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  1. What’s On Stage Pittsburgh this week

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