The music might not be the highlight of Masterworks Choral Ensemble’s holiday concert — and that’s no reflection on the talents of the singers.
It’s just that the concert features both Santa and snow — yes, snow — falling outside the Washington Center for the Performing Arts in the hour before the show.
“The Washington Center has its stage magic, so it is guaranteed to be snowing,” said Gary Witley, the chorus’s artistic director.
“Santa is going to be ever present,” he added. “We are going full Christmas.”
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In fact, snow — made by a pair of snow machines on the roof — is predicted for most if not all of the December shows at the center.
But it won’t always be falling on Santa, who will be greeting concertgoers as they enter and hanging out to pose for photos.
He will even be on stage, in fact. When the chorus sings “All I Want for Christmas,” some kids will get to come up on stage and tell Santa their holiday wishes.
“After they talk with Santa, we’re going to take something that they said and we’ll put that into a verse and sing it as they’re leaving,” Witley said. “There’ll be a little live improv.”
The concert program will be focused on Christmas, which is not necessarily typical for Masterworks, which often does holiday shows that touch upon other winter celebrations.
The program includes Mel Torme’s “The Christmas Song,” “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and “Feliz Navidad,” along with some less-familiar songs.
“One of my favorite is an arrangement of ‘The Little Drummer Boy’ and ‘Peace on Earth,’” said Sally Alhadeff, who sings alto in the choir and handles marketing. “It’s surprising. It’s a mix of the two fairly recognizable traditional arrangements put together in a way that’s entertaining and moving.”
The audience will be invited to join in the singing on five classics, and to make it easy, the lyrics will be projected above the chorus.
This is definitely a concert with kid appeal. There’ll be songs from “Frozen” and “The Polar Express,” in addition to the Christmas classics.
“We generally have a different audience for the holidays,” Witley said. “We have more kids show up to the holiday program than we do at other times.”
Besides the ones coming up to visit Santa, there’ll be another child on stage: pianist Martha Nguyen, 10, who won the elementary school division of the 2015 Masterworks Youth Music Competition, will play a medley of Christmas tunes. Nguyen is in the fifth grade at Garfield Elementary School.
“She’s going to be terrific,” Witley said. “The quality of our youth soloists has just gone up and up and up over the years.”
The concert’s other guest artist — Santa, that is — is a bit more of a mystery. He’s a busy man this time of year, so how did Masterworks snag him for the show?
“Santa is not a member of our chorus, but he’s a close friend of our accompanist,” Witley said.
Mistletunes & Songflakes
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday; silent auction begins at 6.
Where: The Washington Center for the Performing Arts, 512 Washington St. SE, Olympia.
Tickets: $22; $18 for students, seniors and military; $10 for youths 14 and younger.
Let it snow
The snow — created by two snow machines on the roof of The Washington Center — will be back.
Snow will be falling for an hour before most, or perhaps all, of the performances in December. Each snowfall is sponsored, and at press time, sponsors were still needed for some of the performances of Ballet Northwest’s “Nutcracker.”
This is the second year of plentiful snow outside the center, said marketing director Michael Cordier.
Executive director Jill Barnes came up with the idea before last year’s sing-along of “White Christmas” and kept it going all that December.
This year, the seemingly magical white stuff began falling Sunday during Downtown for the Holidays and for the “Mamma Mia” sing-along.
“Jill came to the Washington Center with a vision for us to be really oriented to the community,” Cordier said. And the snow is part of that.
“You don’t need a ticket,” he said, “and it can be a magical memory-making moment for everybody.”