For the Saint Joseph Symphony, the holiday season is a time to dance.
Hosting its “Holiday Cheer” concert with renowned dance soloist Tommy Wasiuta, the symphony promises a special performance.
“The reason we call it ‘Holiday Cheer’ is that we want to be as inclusive as possible with our selections and people are coming to the symphony with an expectation,” said director Christopher Kelts.
With the expectation of traditional and future holiday favorites, the symphony will perform at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 17, at the Missouri Theater, 717 Edmond St.
The second holiday performance under Kelts’ direction, this year’s show is a rare event centered around dance. He said they’re making up for lost time with Wasiuta and are excited to have the acclaimed St. Louis dancer in the area.
“Before the pandemic, Tommy was actually contracted to come to St. Joe for a concert. Well, of course, everything shut down in the world. So we wanted to take an opportunity and honor that previous engagement and bring him in,” he said.
Where most of the concert will feature a variety of holiday favorites, Kelts promises that Wasiuta’s performance with them for the “Tap Dance Concerto” will be unique to any orchestral performance in the country.
“He might be the only one on December 17 in the United States performing this piece. That’s how rare it is,” Kelts said.
In addition to the dance piece, the concert will be a mixture of different Hanukkah and Christmas songs.
“We are going to have our traditional singalong carols. ‘O, Come All Ye Faithful.’ One of my personal favorites, ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing,’” he said.
Also honoring the eight days of Hanukkah, which Kelts said his family celebrates, the symphony will be playing some pieces close to that holiday.
“I thought, ‘You know, why don’t we put a piece on stage and give people an opportunity to hear some of the traditional pieces of Hanukkah?’” he said.
As with all symphony performances, the idea is to make everyone feel welcome to have fun and enjoy a night at the theater.
“We will continue to be as inclusive as we can through our own diverse programming,” he said. “It’s just nice and it’s always such a wonderful reception from the audience. I think they enjoy hearing something unique and different and they have a real appreciation for it.”
The concert will include the tradition of the audience singalong, where everyone raises their voices together in song. It will be conducted by St. Joseph Mayor John Josendale.
“We’re going to have a few traditional carols to sing along,” Kelts said. “(Josendale)’s delighted to do it. And I’m glad that we could extend the invitation to him.”
Whatever kind of a year the audience may have had, Kelts said he hopes the concert reignites their hope and holiday spirit.
“I think these holiday concerts are always an energizer,” he said. “It’s one more injection (of holiday spirit) sort of into the culture. And everybody has a good time.”
Reserved seats are $15 to $45, student prices are $7.50 to $15 (plus fees.) Tickets can be purchased online at www.saintjosephsymphony.org, from the symphony office at 816-233-7701 or at the box office on the day of the show.