It’s the most wonderful time of the year, which means there’s no shortage of fun things to do around DFW to get in the holiday spirit. One of our favorites is the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s Big Brassy Christmas and Organ Extravaganza. This extravaganza features the DSO’s brass and percussion sections backed by the impressive Lay Family Concert Organ.
There’s something about the sound of the brass that conjures feelings of Christmas like no other instrument can. DSO’s principal trumpet Ryan Anthony agrees.
“It's hard to go anywhere this time of year and not hear brass instruments playing carols and Christmas favorites,” he says. “Trumpets, especially, are thought of as festive instruments, which goes back to their history of playing fanfares and announcing special events.”
Anthony thinks of this musical tradition quite fondly around the holidays.
“As a child I remember going caroling with my family all on brass instruments,” he shares. “It's certainly in my blood by now.”
Anthony got the idea for the Brassy Christmas concert from his tenure as a member of the world-renowned Canadian Brass quintet.
“We did a lot of Christmas concerts, and often with extra brass musicians,” he recalls. “I always loved that sound, and once I joined the DSO, I thought it was an ideal scenario to do such a concert.”
Anthony was appointed principal trumpet of the DSO in 2006.
“I thought that the Meyerson was the perfect venue with its wonderful acoustics, the Lay Family Concert Organ and the members of the DSO,” he says.
In addition to playing principal trumpet during this performance, Anthony also programs the music each year. He tries to create a balanced program, pairing audience favorites with some new and exciting arrangements.
“My favorite part is programming tunes that showcase the brass and organ together and the many styles of music that we play,” Anthony says.
Brassy Christmas gives the musicians the freedom to experiment a bit more than they might be able to during a performance with the full orchestra. They look forward to performing original arrangements that will provide a fresh take on some traditional holiday songs.
“We get the chance to let loose a little bit with some jazz arrangements,” Anthony says. “We’ll play one of our crowd favorites, ‘Little Drummer Boy,’ but in the style of big band.”
This year, the brass will also perform three world-premiere arrangements, including a special version of “In the Bleak Midwinter,” which was written specifically for this occasion. Anthony says he’s also looking forward to performing traditional songs "Joy to the World" and "Hark, The Herald Angels Sing."
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“We'll also be doing a beautiful setting of ‘Greensleeves,’ where we'll use the space of the hall with antiphonal parts being played,” he continues.
“There's nothing like the full sound of all the brass and that great organ playing together in the Meyerson Symphony Center,” Anthony says.
If you need more convincing, the Meyerson will be decked out with all the holiday trappings for an opportunity to get that perfect holiday selfie you’ve been after. The only down side – because of high demand and his busy schedule, Santa will not make an appearance.
Big Brassy Christmas and Organ Extravaganza at 7:30 p.m. tonight. Lawrence Loh conducts. Tickets start at $32.