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The West Virginia Symphony is 'Home for the Holidays'

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Grant Cooper leads the West Virginia Symphony, guest singer Lisa Vroman and four local choruses in the symphony's annual "Home for the Holidays" concerts this weekend at the Clay Center.
WANT TO GO?West Virginia Symphony Orchestra presents "Home for the Holidays"WHERE: Clay CenterWHEN: 8 p.m. Friday and SaturdayTICKETS: $27.50, $40.50, $56.50 and $68.50INFO: Call 304-561-3570 or visit www.theclaycenter.org_____CHARLESTON, W.Va -- One of the challenges of doing an annual holiday show is keeping it fresh.West Virginia Symphony Orchestra conductor Maestro Grant Cooper said, "People expect the traditional tunes. The challenge is coming up with new ways to present the old tried and true favorites to everyone's satisfaction." And maybe to work in something new that could become a favorite if it isn't already.The West Virginia Symphony Orchestra will certainly try to do that Friday and Saturday night when it present its annual "Home for the Holidays" concerts.Cooper said for these shows, the symphony always tries to give the audience what they really want this time of the year -- holiday classics with a classical music twist. This year is no different. "We'll always do a 'Jingle Bells,'" he said. "We try to do a nod toward Hanukkah, as well. The children will sing on that one. The song that's most often requested for us is 'The Little Drummer Boy meets Three Kings from the Orient,' which is a big parody of Ravel's 'Bolero.'"
To keep the music evergreen, Cooper said some of the songs have new arrangements and for this year, they've added the theme from the holiday movie "Home Alone," to the repertoire.As in years past, they also have a guest performer. This year, it's soprano Lisa Vroman, who has worked with Cooper several times over the years."She's a bona fide Broadway star," Cooper said. "She has played Christine for many, many years in 'Phantom of the Opera' on Broadway, as well as cin various touring productions. She has an amazingly versatile voice, which can run from Broadway to jazz to classical singing."
Cooper said he more or less signed Vroman for the shows during the Christmas season last year. For the last few years, Vroman and Cooper have been part of a holiday show with the Pasadena Pops -- Cooper conducts, and Vroman sings."But Lisa wasn't going to come back for this year," he said. "So, I invited her to come to my home for the holidays, so to speak."Cooper said the show is more than about just the music. It's about being part of the community the symphony serves."That's a very important element," he said. "We're celebrating our community. That's the most important thing to bring across. For this show, we're utilizing our community as much as possible."This year, four local chorus groups will perform with the symphony: the West Virginia Symphony Chorus, the Parkersburg Community Chorus, the Appalachian Children's Chorus and the WVSU Chorus.Cooper said, "A lot of the music I've written is especially for our singers and our orchestra so that we can feature everybody to their fullest potential."
The choruses, Cooper said, have put in a lot of work in preparation for these shows and sound wonderful."As for us, we're a well-oiled machine," he said. "We play the notes in front of us, and we play them at the highest professional level."He promised it would be a great holiday show. Reach Bill Lynch at or 304-348-5195.
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