Roch Carrier reading his classic The Hockey Sweater is just part of what the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony has in store.
The holiday season is coming alive with garlands, lights, gifts and a little help from the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony (KWS) and friends.
Tickets for the musical ensemble’s annual Yuletide Spectacular are on sale now, and conductor Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser says the evening and afternoon shows are a great way to get into the holiday spirit.
“It is a great concert for people to come to if they are unfamiliar with the symphony and it is a great way to get in the mood of the holidays,” he said. “It is one of our most popular concerts throughout the entire year.”
There is a reason the show is so popular and a staple on many people’s holiday to-do lists.
“This year, we have the Dance Centre performing The Nutcracker with us, the KWS youth orchestra is going to be on stage with us, the Grand Philharmonic Orchestra and the Grand Harmonic Children’s Orchestra is going to be there,” he said, adding that there is one special highlight he called a, ‘once in a lifetime opportunity.’
Celebrated Canadian author Roch Carrier will be on hand to read his ever-popular story, The Hockey Sweater, accompanied by the symphony orchestra and a striking visual display of the children’s story’s original artwork. The story, originally published in 1979, details the real-life experiences of Carrier and his Montreal Canadiens jersey being accidentally replaced with a jersey from the hated foe, the Toronto Maple Leafs. He endured the ridicule of his friends for apparently supporting the wrong team. The story encompasses Canadians’ love for hockey and the allegiances that are formed when rival teams hit the ice.
“The experience of winter is central to Canadian life. We have embraced it and turned it into something that we look forward to. Now, we get to go out and ski, we get to go out and skate and we get to go out and play hockey. That has permeated how we experience winter,” said Batholomew-Poyser. “This is one of the reasons that Roch Carrier’s story has caught on and why it resonates so well with people. It is part of what it is to be Canadian.”
The narration of the story will be accompanied by original music, composed by Abigail Richardson, with projections of the illustrations playing on the wall behind the symphony.
“The author himself is actually going to be there and people will have a chance to meet him and talk to him. It is a once-in-a-lifetime thing to hear him read his own story,” said Bartholomew-Poyser, being careful to mention that the audience won’t just be sitting and watching the performances. There will be opportunity for concertgoers to participate in the group carol singing that is a large part of the show.
“We do Hark, the Herald Angels Sing, then we have some Rudolph, We Wish You a Merry Christmas, Jingle Bell Rock – we hit all the spectrums,” he said, adding that the variety of holiday songs in the sing-a-long are indicative of the inclusivity the show is trying to promote. “It is important for us to make the Yuletide inclusive, because if it is not inclusive, then it is not a celebration and it is not a community celebration. We want to have musical events like this because you have people from all different walks of life gathered under one roof celebrating a common thing. It is about unifying the community, especially with everything that is going on in the world right now, we just need that. We want it to be for everybody and just be happy. Take a three hour break from life and see some really excellent talent.”
The KWS is putting on four performances of the Yuletide Spectacular at Centre in the Square in Kitchener, at 8 p.m. on Dec. 18, at 2:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Dec. 19, and the last performance, at 2:30 p.m. on Dec. 20. The shows sell out every year, so to buy tickets, visit www.tickets.kwsymphony.ca.