One of my new favorite holiday traditions is getting to attend The New York Pops Holiday Concert at Carnegie Hall. I am very lucky to get to attend year after year. Getting to see Matthew Morrison and Kelli O'Hara back on stage together, in their first joint concert together at Carnegie Hall, was something very special. Having them backed by the incredibly talented New York Pops, conducted by the one and only Steven Reineke, added a depth to this concert that would not have been if The Pops weren't there. The added bonus was the collaboration with Judith Clurman's Essiental Voices USA whose combined vocals is like hearing angels sing!
The concert opened up with The New York Pops playing a holiday melody and Judith Clurman's Essentail Voices USA singing "We Need a Little Christmas" from Broadway's Mame. As someone who sees a lot of musical theatre, it's a rarity these days to hear a full orchestra play, so that is why I love attending The New York Pops. Steven Reineke does such a great job conducting this orchestra. They always sound great!
Some of the other songs The New York Pops played that I loved was "Winter Wonderland," "Carol of the Bells," and "Jingle Bell Rock." There is a moment in the movie Home Alone where "Kevin" is by himself and "Carol of the Bells" is playing. So, every time I hear this song, I think of that moment in the movie. Then Steven Reineke took us into a new version of "Jingle Bell Rock" that he wrote the arrangements for. It was one of the highlights of the evening for me! I loved this even more rockin' version and to watch Steven dance around while conducting only proved to me just how much he enjoys his version too.
When Matthew Morrison and Kelli O'Hara took the stage, that was the moment I was waiting for! They started off with a great rendition of "Baby, It's Cold Outside." To hear Matthew and Kelli's voices together again was phenomenal. They blend so well together. They then went into another one of my favorite holiday songs "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!" Matthew took a break and Kelli delighted the audience to her first solo of the night with "I Wonder as I Wander." With a new arrangement by Steven Reineke, Kelli hit all the right notes. This was followed by Matthew's solo number, "I'll Be Home for Christmas/Mele Kalikimaka," which payed homage to his Hawaiin marriage and wife's herritage. I could sit and listen to Matthew sing for hours! He has such an incredible voice. The highlight of this number was getting to see Matthew play the ukulele. He played it perfectly! Another great moment was when Matthew sang "Younger Than Springtime" from South Pacific (which he and Kelli co-starred when it was at Lincoln Center a few seasons back). Matthew prefaced this song by saying he sang this song shirtless 8 times a week and then said he could sing it shirtless now and he started to undo his bowtie. Unfortunatley, the lack luster applause for that, forced Matthew to perform this song fully clothed. I mean, I'm not sure who was in this audience, but who wouldn't want to see Matthew Morrison shirtless. But I digress. Kelli and Matthew then teamed back up for a beautiful duet of the Balcony Scene (Tonight) from West Side Story. This lead into another duet, one of Steven Reineke's favorite holiday songs, "Believe" from The Polar Express, which starred Tom Hanks (this reference is for my friend Lauren). I have never seen The Polar Express, but after hearing Matthew and Kelli sing this song, it makes me want to watch it. Then it was time for Kelli's next solo, "O Holy Night." Kelli really raised the roof on this song as she was bestowed with a several mintue standing ovation.
Getting to hear Judith Clurman's Essential Voices USA was terrific! Judith has picked some of the most talented singers to be part of her chorus. Another number they sang, which I enjoyed, was an original holiday tune called "Wishes and Candles," a beautiful song about holiday wishes. This was the first time they performed this song at The New York Pops Holiday Concert since its 2011 debut. Another one of my favorite parts of The New York Pops Holiday Concert that featured Essential Voices USA was the Chanukah medley. There are so many holiday shows and not everyone includes Chanukah, so it was really nice to see The New York Pops represent my holiday. Judith Clurman stepped in to conduct this part of the concert which featured soloist Arlo Hill in addition to Essential Voices USA. I have never heard of Arlo Hill, but I can now say, I am a fan! He has a terrific voice! I wanted to get to hear more from him.
The New York Pops Holiday Concert always puts me a smile on my face. This year's concert was no exception! It was a real treat to see Matthew and Kelli together again! Separately, they are fantastic, but united, they are something unreal! I'm thrilled they were the focus of this year's New York Pops Holiday Concert and I'm delighted they got to sing with one of the greatest orchestras in the country, conducted by the brilliant Steven Reineke!
With just one concert to go tonight (Saturday, December 20), I would highly recommend getting one of the very few tickets left! Click here to purchase! Carnegie Hall is located at 57th Street and 7th Avenue.
That's Adam's Call and I Stand For Entertainment!