The holidays began in November
Every year, the sights and sounds of the holidays begin with the Orlando Museum of Art Council of 101’s Festival of Trees. This year’s theme was the “Most Wonderful Time,” and as always, the festival delivered. It always ends the Sunday before Thanksgiving, which also offers many joyful events.
The Central Florida Chapter of the American Guild of Organists presented mini-concerts November 18. This “Progressive Organ Concert” traveled to three of the downtown churches: the Cathedral Church of St. Luke, First Presbyterian Church and the First United Methodist Church of Orlando.
Fusion Fest occurred Saturday, Nov. 24 and Sunday, Nov. 25 in the Seneff Arts Plaza of the Dr. Phillips Center, brining a kaleidoscope of our different cultures together. That same weekend, the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra presented “Home for the Holidays” on Saturday at the Bob Carr Theater. The next day, the Messiah Choral Society came together for their 46th free performance of the Handel classic “Messiah,” which is always the Sunday afternoon after Thanksgiving.
On November 28, the Orlando Shakes also began their month-long run of the Dickens classic, “A Christmas Carol.” Also in Loch Haven Park, The Orlando Rep is presenting “Elf The Musical.” Both of those shows continue until Dec. 30. If you missed any of these events, please mark your 2019 calendars now.
The men of Orlando arts
I am always amazed at the talent that springs forth in our community. This month I thought I would highlight some of the gifted men who offer so much to Orlando.
First of all, there is Robert Hill, who is now celebrating his 10th year as the artistic director of the Orlando Ballet. Recently, Mr. Hill, along with Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, broke ground for Harriett’s Orlando Ballet Center on Princeton Street. From Dec. 7 through 16, Mr. Hill’s choreography will fill the Dr. Phillips Center’s Walt Disney Theater with sugar plums and snow as they present the classic Christmas story of “The Nutcracker.” There are even two Saturday children’s performances with activities beforehand (I usually paint about 200 sweet faces there).
The next gentleman is Gabriel Preisser, the executive and artistic director of Opera Orlando. After a successful run of “Tales of Hoffman,” the Opera’s mainstage performances continue with “Hansel and Gretel” on Dec. 8 and 9. You may remember Mr. Preisser’s incredible voice when he sang the solos in the Orlando Ballet’s “Carmina Burana.” Also contributing to that performance was the artistic director and conductor of the Bach Festival Choir and Orchestra, Dr. John V. Sinclair. He also conducts the Messiah Choral Society’s annual gift to the city concert.
Eric Jacobsen is now in his third year as the music director of the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra and has been an incredible gift of music for Orlando. Then there is Joshua Vickery of the Central Florida Community Arts. This young man has brought together so many volunteers who love to sing or play an instrument that CFCArts has to perform in Calvary and Northland Churches to hold their large audiences, with ticket prices under $15. They offer lessons for children as young as 5 to adults in their 90s. His vision has made him a keynote speaker on how to build community arts programs. And then there is Terry Olson, the director of Orange County Arts and Cultural Affairs, who sort of ties it all together. He originated the Orlando Fringe Festival and recently began the first Fusion Fest.
Remembering the reason for the season
To continue honoring the talented men who inspire the artists in our community, I will introduce Dr. Jeffery Redding, who was selected as a quarterfinalist for a Grammy Award for Music Education in 2017. Currently, he is the director of choral activities at West Orange High School, and now the choir director and conductor at the First United Methodist Church of Orlando.
For the members of our downtown area, do not miss the opportunity to enjoy all of the free celebrations offered by churches downtown and at venues such as Lake Eola and the Sennef Arts Plaza in front of the Dr. Phillips Center. There is just something special about Christmas carols and songs that bring out the joy and love in people’s hearts no matter what faith they practice.
December 1 – Stetson and the School of Music present a candlelight concert honoring the 200th anniversary of the writing of “Silent Night” at the First United Methodist Church
December 6 –The 1st Thursday “Art Under $200” show. Local artists will be selling their pieces at the Orlando Museum of Art for $200 or less.
December 7-12 – Orlando Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” at the Disney Theater at the Dr. Phillips Center
December 8-12 – Opera Orlando’s “Hansel and Gretel at the Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater at the Dr. Phillips Center
December 8 – “Home Free: A Country Christmas” at the Bob Carr Theater at the Dr. Phillips Center
December 14-16 – TV star Jane Lynch will be at the Alexis and Jim Pugh Theater at the Dr. Phillips Center for her show “Jane Lynch: A Swingin’ Little Christmas”
December 16 – Park Lake Presbyterian Church presents “Of His Kingdom There Will Be No End” by David Clydesdale
December 31 – The Orlando Museum of Art presents “Nouveau: A Glamorous New Year’s Eve”
Events at the Alexis and Jim Pugh, Walt Disney, and Bob Carr Theaters are all part of the Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts. Their tickets can be purchased on their website or at the box office without additional fees. Free 15-minute parking is offered on Magnolia Avenue for their box office. All events at the First United Methodist Church offer complimentary parking at the Seaside Garage on Jackson Street. The City of Orlando’s parking is convenient and reasonably priced.