click to enlarge The more music the merrier
Illinois Symphony Youth Orchestra String Quartet members Finn Powell, Madelyn Beck, Madeline Bollman and Clare Specketer join in the Abbey Road's Beatles Christmas performance this Sunday at UIS Performing Arts Center.

We're now in the throes of the "most wonderful time of the year," as expressed in a classic Christmas song that has seeped into our common American vernacular. It's definitely debatable to many just exactly how wonderful it all is, but hey, that's how the song goes so we're sticking with it. Let's go see what we can find relatable to all this happy holiday hoopla.

From a professional perspective, for me (and other working musicians), this time of the year means cranking up the rehearsing of holiday songs for public performance. It's not like "White Christmas," "Blue Christmas," "Rudolph, the Red-nosed Reindeer," "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and tons of others would slip into our regular repertoires, though even if some of them did, I doubt that "Let it Snow" or "Winter Wonderland" would have a snowball's chance in hell of becoming a summer song favorite. But to my point, over the last few weeks, the songbooks (or more likely iPads these days) come along to gigs to remind us how the tunes go that are generally sung only during the December holidays. Please don't expect an entire night's performance to be chock-full of the seasonal favorites. I do hope that most performers take the time and effort to slip in a few of these seasoned songs from the ages.

If you're dedicated to a full night of "festive music and holiday songs," make your way to the UIS Performing Arts Center on Friday night for Holiday Pops in the Heartland as performed by the Illinois Symphony Orchestra, Illinois Symphony Youth Orchestras, Springfield Choral Society and the Springfield Youth Performance Group, with Taichi Fukumura conducting.

I hope you've already purchased a ticket for Dual Piano Christmas with Damien Kaplan and Mark Gifford at the Hoogland this weekend, because the hugely popular show is sold out for all three performances.

I am pretty positive that The Tangents (Casey and Tiffany) plan to do some holiday material while hitting it at Harvest Market on Friday and most likely Rod Grant will put his wonderful pipes to the task with a few ho-ho-ho numbers at Jamie's Route 66 in Southern View. I heard it from the horse's mouth that Chris Camp and His Blues Ambassadors are serving up the swingin' Santa stuff at Lime Street Cafe on Friday and Saturday this weekend during what's billed as their Christmas Blues Extravaganza.

Saturday brings us "good tidings of great joy" with several sizzling seasonal shows that might make you want to "go tell it on the mountain," if we had any around here. The Deep Hollow presents its annual Happy Hollowdays show at Danenberger's with an array of classic TDH hits plus assorted holiday classics as well, including Liz's spot-on rendition of Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas is You." Our local Presbyterians are making a good showing as First Pres presents an 1850s Community Carol Sing with special guests Abe and Mary Lincoln and Third Presbyterian gifts us The Christmas Concert Spectacular, showcasing many local performing artists, including Jim Leach and the 2023 Miss Illinois Festival Queen.

Downtown, look for Johnnie Owens singing at Buzz Bomb in the afternoon and experience A Very Opera Christmas with Manny at The Wakery in the early evening.

On Sunday, head back to the UIS Performing Arts Center for Abbey Road's Christmas with the Beatles show featuring four (very thrilled) members of our Illinois Symphony Youth Orchestra String Quartet joining in with the Fab Four tribute.

Enjoy your holly-jolly time for 2023, and see you on the jingle-jangle.

Tom Irwin

Tom Irwin, a sixth-generation Sangamon County resident, has played his songs and music for nearly 40 years in the central Illinois area with occasional forays across the country. He's contributed to Illinois Times since 2000 by writing Now Playing, a weekly music column, as well as features stories and other articles...

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