After hosting their annual Yuletide Spectacular online in 2020 and 2021, the KW Symphony is bringing it back for a live show this week.
Cellist Kendra Grittani will be performing in her first holiday show with the symphony after joining full-time earlier this year. The show will have a lot of classic holiday music for the audience members to recognize, she says.
“We’ll be doing classic Christmas songs that people can sing along to like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. We’re doing some of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker – we’ll have some live dancers for that. We will be doing Sleigh Ride – everybody loves Sleigh Ride – Winter Wonderland and those classic Christmas holiday songs,” she said.
“I definitely love Sleigh Ride. I really like all the percussion sections. And probably also the Nutcracker is my favourite. It has some nice cello parts and I’m excited to see whenever we have dancers on stage. It’s really entertaining to the musicians as well.”
There are a lot of moving parts to the show as well, Grittani added.
“We have dancers. We have a choir orchestra. We have an emcee. You’re going to have visuals, and a lot of lighting. Everybody has to come prepared for the first rehearsal so we can put everything together,” she said of the effort that goes into the Yuletide Spectacular.
While there are many performances involved, the production crew makes sure that the parts fit well together, leaving Grittani and her fellow musicians to focus on their own responsibilities.
“For me personally, I focus on my part and then try not to get distracted by everything else going on on stage. Luckily, the Christmas music that we’ll be playing, I’m very familiar with music that everybody would recognize. I’ve been playing since I was younger, so it will be easier in the sense that I’m familiar with it,” she said.
After completing her masters at McGill in 2018, Grittani went through tough competition – there were only four open cellist positions across Canada last year – and started with KW Symphony as an extra musician in 2021. Having just joined full-time this year, the show has a special personal meaning for her.
“It’s special because 2022 has been the year that I won my first orchestral job and my career has finally started. I had to spend all that time during COVID waiting and especially this time last year, other shifts got cancelled, contracts got cancelled, work got cancelled. So it’s really nice to just enjoy playing music, enjoy sharing it with audiences and have an opportunity to love making music as a career,” she said.
The familiar songs on tap make the symphony experience accessible even to those who’ve never been to a KWS concert.
“If you’re somebody who’s never been to a symphony concert before, it’s definitely a good opportunity to go because they’ll be recognizing most of the music that we’re playing. It’s a good chance to see whether it’s something you enjoy and to see what playing in an orchestra’s all about,” said Grittani.
It is also different for the orchestra members as well compared to a more traditional show.
“It’s really a sense of community and interacting with the audience members. A lot of the orchestra members dress up and we haven’t been able to do this in two years, so I think everybody’s really excited for it. We always dress up and interact with the audience, which is not something we get to do in our signature series where we’re playing big symphonies.”
The Yuletide Spectacular runs at the Centre In The Square starting tomorrow (December 16) through Sunday, with shows at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 2:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The Symphony will be collecting donations for the Food Bank of Waterloo Region. Tickets can be purchased online at kwsymphony.ca or by calling 519-745-4711 or 888-745-4717.