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At home for the holidays

Saturday's symphony performance was planned as a homecoming for two talented artists who started their careers in Prince George - conductor Broek Bosma and multi-talented performer Veera Khare Asher.
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Saturday's symphony performance was planned as a homecoming for two talented artists who started their careers in Prince George - conductor Broek Bosma and multi-talented performer Veera Khare Asher.

Adding to the home-town feeling was the presence of our city's mayor, Dan Rogers, in the role of Master of Ceremonies.

Right from the first musical notes this evening put the audience into the spirit of the season. They began with orchestral presentation of "Let It Snow" and "Sleigh Ride." The latter was delivered complete with horse-hoof clopping sounds and even a bit of whinnying.

The Bel Canto Choir's youthful voices brought the "Carol of the Bells" and following that, Asher appeared on stage to perform "O Holy Night" backed by the choir. The orchestra's soft music supported her beautiful soprano voice with the combined effect creating a cathedral-worthy performance.

Throughout the program, there was time given over to sing-a-longs with Rogers urging audience participation. The first set included two favourite hymns, "O Come All Ye Faithful" and "Hark the Herald Angels Sing."

There was enough power in audience voices to lift the sound through the roof.

Some special original music came from Asher's own composition "Ave-Om Prayer." She explained that she wished to combine two ancient languages - Latin and Sanskrit - based on her familiarity with singing in cathedrals and her own attachment to Indian prayers.

To accompany her, Dr. Don Bond, PGSO principal flautist, composed original music for the flute. The result was a unique experience - reflective and meditative with operatic flair in her delivery.

The Bel Canto Choir returned to the stage to deliver "Do You Hear What I Hear?" Guest Conductor Bosma was singing along with them while conducting the orchestra.

The feeling of Christmas was evident as almost everyone joined in with vigour on renditions of "Joy To The World" and "Jingle Bells." The other reason was that Rogers had encouraged the audience to stand and give extra energy to the singing.

An outstanding musical treat came in the form of Asher's solo performances. She performed two of her favourite arias from Handel's "Messiah." Her singing is especially beautiful because her professionally-trained voice takes command of the lyrics - lifting them to a memorable delivery.

Participation from the Prince George Cantata Singers contributed a glimpse of traditional music which has endured in popularity from the 1500s. Their conductor, Damian Dorschner, led the choir through that quiet prayer-like music and then bumped the tempo up considerably and moved ahead four centuries with a pop standard from the 1940s, "Baby It's Cold Outside."

The next sing-a-long portion included the Bel Canto Choir and Asher leading the audience through "Deck the Halls," "Angels We Have Heard On High" and "Gloria In Excelsis Deo."

An especially moving performance was delivered by the Bel Canto Choir, directed by Jaclyn Riemer, of the "Gloria" from Dvorak's Symphony No. 9. The choir sung in Latin accompanied by the orchestra's cello section.

A delightful musical evening came to its pleasing finish with the orchestra playing a medley of Christmas music. The full orchestral sound works on the heart and mind - and lets the notes permeate through and linger.

There was enough seasonal sentiment absorbed to last through to the New Year.