For the past three decades, the Wichita Symphony Orchestra has given a holiday gift to the community: a free holiday concert.
This year, the popular concert features tenor Randolph Lacy and the Butler Community College Concert Choir.
Although all of the free tickets to the show have been distributed, those hoping to attend should arrive by 7:20 to take unclaimed seats.
The guest conductor, Mark Laycock, will lead the orchestra through a variety of Christmas songs. Both Laycock and Lacy are professors at Wichita State University.
Lacy recently moved to Wichita from Texas, where he sang with Ars Lyrica and the Bayou City Performing Arts Company. He also performed with Houston Grand Opera, Opera Memphis and Kentucky Opera. Adept at several languages, Lacy will sing “O Holy Night” in its original French.
“Cantique de Noel," or "O Holy Night," was written in 1847. This French tune was performed during Christmas Mass three weeks after it was composed. A little more than two decades later, during the Franco-Prussian War, legend has it that on Christmas Eve in the midst of battle, a French soldier laid his weapon down and sang "Cantique de Noel." A German soldier answered in his native tongue with Martin Luther’s "From Heaven Above to Earth I Come." Gunfire ceased for one day.
Although the song is difficult to sing because of its range, Lacy said he is thrilled to have the opportunity to sing this classic carol with full orchestra accompaniment.
Lacy also will be singing a special jazz rendition of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” titled “The Twelve Gifts of Christmas.”
This entertaining piece, written in 1998 by Jeff Tyzik, features music of the classics; including Brahms, Beethoven and Vivaldi.
“Instead of singing about turtledoves and pear trees, I am singing about instruments,” Lacy said. “It’s going to be fun.”
A glockenspiel has replaced a partridge, two clarinets have taken the place of two turtledoves, and there are three French horns as opposed to the hens. And when these instruments are spoken of, they speak up.
This one-hour concert also will feature a jazzy version of "The Nutcracker Suite,” “The Hallelujah Chorus” and two pieces from “Home Alone.”
A youth quartet also will perform. The symphony sponsors several youth groups composed of students from the greater Wichita area. Performers must audition for these quartets and symphonies.
"We want to make people aware of some of the other programs we do," said Don Reinhold, the symphony’s executive director. "We want to feature our young people."
The students at Butler Community College are also featured during the performance. Their rich baritones and sopranos will fill the hall.
“This is a time for community building,” Reinhold said. "People will be joyful and happy and leave with smiles on their faces."