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Symphony plans holiday concert

The Altoona Symphony Orchestra’s annual “Home for the Holidays” concert set for Dec. 4 at the Altoona Area High School Auditorium will feature appearances by the Altoona High School Chorus, bagpipe players and popular singing duo Dave Villani and Paula Glunt.

The ASO is under the baton of Nick Palmer, artistic adviser and principal guest conductor, and in its 93rd season.

“We are so excited to bring this warm and highly entertaining Holiday concert to our great community,” said Executive Director Rick Vanevenhoven. “We are planning so many new and exceptional experiences to share with our audience at this concert, and we will be getting everyone into the holiday spirit, guaranteed!”

The AAHS Auditorium seats 1,200 audience members, so a full house means the symphony will play to its biggest holiday audience in recent memory, Vanevenhoven stated in a press release.

The program includes holiday classic works “Christmas Festival,” “Chanukah Overture,” “Wizards in Winter” and a collection of selections from the popular holiday movie “Polar Express.” Additional works include “Carol of the Bells” and Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece “Journey Through Snow” from the Nutcracker.

The Altoona Area High School Chorus, under the direction of Kelly Sipes, will sing holiday favorites “Jingle Bells” and “Sleigh Ride.”

“It’s a great pleasure to collaborate with such a superb chorus. The AAHS chorus has such an amazing reputation for excellence,” Maestro Palmer said.

The orchestra will perform “Cathedral,” which will feature bagpipe players from local groups the Jaffa Highlanders and the Rail City Pipes and Drums.

“We so enjoy each time we get the opportunity to join with our many great local musical talents, and the result is always so overwhelmingly beautiful,” Vanevenhoven said. “These collaborations are so well received by our audiences that we plan on continuing this tradition with many of our future concerts.”

Local entertainers Dave Villani and Paula Glunt, who performed in the ’80s, will reunite to perform “Thankful” arranged by Villani.

“Dave and Paula’s Pops performance with the ASO two decades ago was one of the all-time most popular events we’ve ever had,” according to Maestro Palmer.

A highlight of the evening will be the ASO’s performance of “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” with professional actor Oliver Palmer providing the narration for the holiday classic.

An accomplished theater actor, Oliver Palmer is also one of Maestro Palmer’s four sons and the performance makes for a full circle moment, the elder Palmer said, “He started coming to Altoona to attend concerts at the age of two.”

The ASO is sponsored for this concert by Barry and Marlene Halbritter, New Enterprise Stone & Lime, Gwin Dobson & Foreman, M&T Bank, and the Wolf-Kuhn Foundation.

If you go

What: The Altoona

Symphony Orchestra with special guests presents its annual holiday concert

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4

Where: Altoona Area High School Auditorium

Tickets: $35 for adults (includes box office fee) and $15 for students. Available online at mishlertheatre.org or by calling the Mishler Box Office at 814-944-9434; or at the door an hour before the concert.

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