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Written by:  Jan Campbell Wharton
Date: December 1, 2012

Dec. 1, 2012

Experience the wonder of live symphonic music this holiday season with the Sealy/Fox 8 Holiday Pops Concerts presented by the Greensboro and Winston-Salem symphonies. In keeping with the spirit of season, these concerts are a gift to your family in exchange for helping others in the community.

The Greensboro Symphony Holiday Concerts will be held at Greensboro Coliseum on Friday, Dec. 14th and Williams High School in Burlington on Sunday, Dec.16. The Winston-Salem Symphony Holiday Concert will be held Saturday, Dec. 15 at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Admission to these concerts is free with a donation of canned or non-perishable food items, which will be distributed to Salvation Army Food Banks throughout the Piedmont. Last year, concert-goers donated more than 730,000 cans in Burlington, Greensboro and Winston-Salem.

Fox8 news anchors Neill McNeill and Cindy Farmer will emcee the events. The programs will be unique to each symphony and its conductor.

Greensboro Symphony Holiday Concert
Nathaniel Beversluis will conduct the Greensboro concerts in his third season as the resident conductor of the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra. The concert will include a tribute to the Christmas Music of Elvis Presley featuring Elvis impersonator Stephen Freeman.

For several years, Beverluis has wanted to include an Elvis impersonator in the holiday show. The perfect opportunity arose this year, the 40th anniversary of when Elvis performed at Greensboro Coliseum. Elvis also played at Williams High School in the mid-1950s before his performances drew large crowds.

Freeman, an internally known Elvis impersonator who lives in Winston-Salem, will perform songs from Elvis’s popular 1957 Christmas album, including “Blue Christmas” and “Santa Bring My Baby Back to Me.” He will also perform some of his gospel songs, including “Let There Be Peace in the Valley,” all backed by the musical power of a symphony orchestra.

The concert will also feature songs from John Williams, the famous movie composer, and songs from the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

For the coliseum show, Summit Figure Skating Club of Greensboro will perform to music from “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” and other pieces. Many members of the skating club are children, and a group of local children will also lead a sing-along of holiday favorites.

Beversluis said the holiday concert has become a family tradition for many in the area and draws between 10,000 and 12,000 people.

“This concert presents an opportunity for the symphony to show how exciting it is to see a live orchestra by itself and with other elements,” Beversluis says. “We try to build them in so it feels like more of a show.”

The concert will last an hour and 20 minutes with a casual family-centered format.

Santa’s Sleigh crossing the ice will serve as the finale. And from his sack, Santa will pull free tickets to selected Greensboro Symphony Orchestra Pops and Masterworks concerts. Winners will be selected in the live audience, from only the good little boys and girls, of course.

Winston-Salem Symphony Holiday Concert
In his fifth year as the associate conductor of the Winston-Salem Symphony Orchestra, Matthew Troy will conduct this year’s event at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum. This will be his fourth holiday concert.

In planning family events, Troy said he gravitates toward high-energy music and likes to combine traditional pieces with the not-so-traditional. He feels this produces a mix of nostalgia and excitement for the audience.

“There is never anything that can replace the magic of the moment when seeing a live performance,” he says.

Troy sees the purpose of this concert as an opportunity to highlight different groups and people in the community. The symphony’s youth philharmonic, which Troy also conducts, will play before the performance, and Salem Gymnastics and Salem Festival Ballet will perform during selections from “The Nutcracker.”

One highlight of the show will be Glenn Siebert’s rendition of “O Holy Night.” Siebert is a critically acclaimed tenor who teaches at UNC School of the Arts.

The holiday concert draws the symphony’s most diverse audience, from symphony regulars to others who have never been to an orchestra concert. Between 8,000 and 10,000 people are expected.

The concert will last a little over an hour with a casual family-centered format.

“Our hope is that people will come and be entertained and realize that going to the symphony is not as stuffy as people expect,” Troy said.

Jan Wharton is a freelance writer and mother of three from Winston-Salem. For more information, visit

Fox 8/Sealy Holiday Pop Concerts
Admission and parking are free with a donation of nonperishable food items.
Though all nonperishable donations are welcome, the Salvation Army most needs rice, beans, cereal, pasta, peanut butter, bottled fruit juice, diapers, infant formula and canned food of any kind.  

Winston-Salem Symphony Orchestra
Saturday, Dec. 15, doors open at 6 p.m., concert begins at 7:30 p.m.
Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum
2825 University Parkway, Winston-Salem

Greensboro Symphony Orchestra
Friday, Dec. 14, doors open at 6 p.m., concert begins at 7:30 p.m.

Greensboro Coliseum
1921 W. Lee St., Greensboro

Sunday, Dec. 16, doors open at 1 p.m., concert begins at 2 p.m.

Williams High School Auditorium
1307 S. Church St., Burlington
Same program as coliseum but without Summit Figure Skating Club


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