Auburn’s Performance Arts Center filled with the rockin’ sounds of Christmas music on Monday night. It was Auburn Symphony Orchestra’s annual holiday concert. The concert featured solos from soprano Rachel DeShon and concertmaster Brittany Breeden on the electric violin.
Bringing Holiday Music and Cheer To The Community
“It was a great joy to be a part of the performance on Monday. Not only did the orchestra play well and the soloists deliver in their performance, but it was thrilling to see such a packed house. The audience also seemed highly engaged and appreciative of all that took place on stage. Performers feed off audiences, and I have no doubt that the energy of attendees on Monday encouraged the orchestra in its music making,” said Maestro Wesley Shulz.
Shulz combined a beautiful cross-section of holiday music for the concert. His choice of arrangements allowed for the highlight of several soloists as well as the orchestra musicians themselves. The show, of course, also included the annual audience sing-a-long, led by DeShon.
The Rockin’ Christmas Eve theme stemmed from Shulz’s love of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. “We’re featuring our concertmaster, [Breeden], in several of their charts on electric violin,” said Shulz.
DeShon Delighted With Her Powerful Vocals
DeShon entranced the audience with her impressive voice and captivating energy. She performed two signature pieces during the concert. ‘This is the Season’ is an original holiday piece written for DeShon by Avi Lasser and Garrett Overcash. The arrangement of ‘O Holy Night’ DeShon is known for is written by David T. Clydesdale, and received a resounding standing ovation.
“This was my debut with the Auburn Symphony Orchestra, and I was very excited to share the stage with such tremendous musicians and Maestro Schulz. I have performed quite a few times with Maestro Schulz, most recently with the North Carolina Symphony just a few weeks ago, and I was very happy that he tapped me for this concert as well,” said DeShon.
Growing up surrounded by music, DeShon began vocal training in high school. She performed with Marvin Hamlisch and the Seattle Symphony the day after her high school graduation. “[I] ended up winning his ‘Search for a Star’ competition. He told me to go to college because nothing is better than an education. I attended Western Illinois University on a full ride, and they gave me the freedom to truly find my voice and to study all genres of vocal music, from the standards to opera,” shared DeShon.
The 12 Gifts of Christmas
DeShon collaborated with the symphony on is Jeff Tyzik’s ‘12 Gifts of Christmas.’ This song is a unique twist on the traditional “12 days of Christmas.” Tyzik’s version celebrates the orchestra and music as the twelve “gifts” that are given by one’s true love.
“I think “12 Gifts of Christmas” is very cleverly conceived and organized as a whole. I think the most effective surprise is when the quote from Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony comes toward the very end. It’s a piece universally recognized and is in the most unexpected place, so it is rather comedic when it makes an appearance,” said Shulz.
When asked what her favorite gift was, DeShon shared, “I’m a bit partial to the three French Horns because I played French Horn growing up. But my favorite gift is the 12th Day, a full symphony because nothing is better than the power of a full symphony orchestra.”
Breeden Brings Down the House
Monday’s concert was Breeden’s final performance as concertmaster with the Auburn Symphony Orchestra. Breeden has been with the orchestra for about ten years. While her favorite piece of the concert was The Polar Express suite, Breeden stunned the audience with her memorable performance on the electric violin.
Brittany Breedan playing with the Auburn Symphony | Photos and Video Courtesy ASO
Breeden began training at the age of six. She encourages any child (or adult) considering entering the arts or thinking of playing an instrument to go for it! “Playing an instrument is the absolute best! It takes hard work and perseverance but opens a whole world of music to you and provides tools for the future that will help you excel at anything you set your mind too. It’s also loads of fun, connects you to others and gives you an outlet to express yourself,” said Breeden.
Partnering With the Community
Green River College’s Jazz Voices welcomed the 730 concertgoers with holiday music as part of the concert’s pre-show. Attendees contributed 96 pounds worth of donations for the Auburn Food Bank. The Jazz Voices’ performance and donation collection are part of the symphony’s overall goal build deeper community relationships in Auburn.
The symphony hopes to also cultivate partnerships with other art organizations and raise music education awareness. “One of our current initiatives is to grow our community partnerships and educational activities. We hope to feature a number of local arts groups as performers before the Auburn Symphony takes the stage,” said Shulz.
Auburn Symphony continues their Chamber Series with Youth Movement. The performance is on Sunday, January 20, 2019, at 4:00 pm at St. Matthew / San Mateo Episcopal Church. Brahms and Sibelius is the next performance in their Symphony Series. The concert is on Sunday, February 17, 2019, at 2:30 pm at the Auburn Performing Arts Center. Maestro Schulz will be conducting with Michael Lim on Violin.