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The Blue & Gray Press | May 22, 2018

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‘Holiday Pops’ Concert Strikes Chord with PBS

By BETH REHBEHN

On Dec. 8 and 9, the University of Mary Washington Philharmonic Orchestra hosted their annual Holiday Pops concert in Dodd auditorium that was filmed for a PBS special.

Kevin Bartram, UMW Orchestra Director, conducted, along with musical guests Jay Ungar and Molly Mason, an American acoustic duo.

The symphony performance with Joy Ungar and Molly Mason Family Band drew the attention of national media.

Bartram explained, “In yet another first to this exciting season, tonight’s concert is being filmed for PBS. Four-time Emmy award winning producer and director Jim Brown and his crew will be crafting a Holiday special from this show, which we hope will be aired next December.”

Mitchell Bass, senior with a special major in communications and music, attended the concert at Dodd auditorium in George Washington Hall.

“I can’t wait to watch next season,” said Bass. “It was really interesting to see someone filming it for television.”

This year’s theme was Appalachian music.

The first half of the concert was an arrangement of Christmas-themed pieces by Dan Goeller, a coral composer.

Bartram explained to the audience that there were not many options for holiday-themed Appalachian music, but once he found a piece by Goeller, he enjoyed it so much that he decided to compile the first half of the evening with Goeller’s selections.

Some of the Goeller’s pieces performed included “A Christmas Festival of Carols,” “Appalachian Carol,” and “Christmas Fantasy for Orchestra.”

“I think every holiday concert is fantastic,” said Bass. “They really did a great job and the guest artists were fantastic.”

The second half of the event consisted of a performance by The Jay Ungar and Molly Mason Family Band.

According to Bartram’s “Message from the Music Director,” Ungar is known for music used in the Ken Burns’ Civil War documentary.

Also, according to Bartram, Ungar had never before played with a full symphony orchestra.

“The Ungars really embodied the atmosphere of the Civil War documentary,” said Bass. “I want to congratulate them on a great concert.”

“When we first contacted Ungar to inquire about this engagement, we learned that while he performs often with small groups, he did not have a full symphony show available,” Bartram wrote. “Undeterred, we worked with Ungar for the past six months to arrange and produce the show that you will hear tonight for the first time ever.”

Working with Ungar was a great experience for sophomore cellist Isabel Smith.

“This concert was definitely a different experience,” smith said. “Jay Ungar and his family are wonderful to work with and their music is amazing. I’m so happy that they were willing to work with us and that his presence along with the filming is expanding our orchestra’s reach outside of Fredericksburg.”

Following the Holiday Pops concert, the UMW Orchestra performed throughout Italy.

The orchestra will return with The Music of 1812 – “A Bicentennial Concert” in March, and will conclude their regular season on April 27, 2012 performing with musical guest Kenny Rogers.