Susquehanna Symphony Orchestra holiday concert set for Dec. 2

The Aegis

This year, the Susquehanna Symphony Orchestra’s popular holiday concert in Bel Air has even more entertainment than usual.

“Fun Holidays of Sleigh Rides and Bears” begins at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2, at Bel Air High School at 100 Heighe St. Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and $10 for children ages 5-18 and college students with ID. They can be ordered online at or purchased at the door. For more information, call 443-528-6826.

SSO founder and conductor Sheldon Bair has selected a varied program which begins with “Rocket Sleigh” and ends with Bair’s arrangement of “A Christmas Sing-Along” and Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride.”

How does Santa deliver gifts to children all over the world in one night? Composer Delvyn Case has the answer — “Rocket Sleigh.” The four-minute overture was written as a fundraiser for the Quincy (Mass.) Symphony Orchestra in 2009. Case, a professor at Wheaton College, directs the Great Woods Symphony Orchestra.

Three selections from “Eight Russian Folk Songs,” including Christmas Carol, by Russian composer Anatoly Liadov follow. Douglas M. Beach, a recent graduate of Messiah College and Director of Music at Fallston Presbyterian Church, guest conducts Rimsky-Korsakov’s Polonaise from “Christmas Eve Suite.”

Alfred Reed’s arrangement of “Greensleeves” is followed by the premiere of Sheldon Bair’s arrangement of “The Wexford Carol,” based on the traditional Irish Christmas carol.

The orchestra will perform a real treat, “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” with narration by Gary Helton, station manager of WHFC-FM at Harford Community College. Philadelphia composer Daniel Dorff plans to be in the audience to enjoy the classic fairy tale, which was premiered by the SSO in 2001.

On the composer’s website, he commented, probably with a touch of humor, “Yes, ‘Goldilocks’ was premiered by a conductor named Bair.” Other similar compositions of his include “The Tortoise and the Hare,” “Three Little Pigs,” and “The Adventures of Mary’s Little Lamb.”

“Christmas Lullabies,” arranged by SSO bass trombonist Donald Raff, and Bair’s arrangement of “ December” (Christmas) from “The Seasons” will be performed, followed by Daniel Dorff’s “Pachelbel’s Christmas.” According to Maestro Bair, the Dorff selection includes 44 different holiday tunes within five minutes.

The evening formally concludes with Bair’s arrangement of “A Christmas Sing-Along,” but SSO regulars know to expect a spirited performance of “Sleigh Ride” afterwards.

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