Ohio University’s School of Music has arranged notable musical events throughout 2017 to acknowledge the school’s 100th anniversary, and Monday night the celebratory year was brought to a close with a showcase that embodied why the school has thrived for a full century.
Broadway for the Holidays featured a combination of the Ohio Symphony Orchestra, Singing Men of Ohio, Ohio University Women’s Ensemble and four established Broadway performers conducted by American Pops Orchestra founder and OU alumnus Luke Frazier. The ensemble performed Christmas classics reimagined specifically for the concert.
The night began with a statement of gratitude from College of Fine Arts Dean Matthew Shaftel, who said he was incredibly pleased for the event to wrap up the amazing year of celebration, including two big performances from the Marching 110.
“They performed at Carnegie Hall and this little thing called the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade,” Shaftel said. “To make up for how cold that was, they’re going to the Bahamas.”
When introducing Frazier, the evening’s conductor, he mentioned the seemingly daunting task he undertook upon graduating from OU: starting a new orchestra.
Frazier told the audience the arrangements they’ll be hearing have never been heard by any audience, and displayed the truth of that statement with an original rendition of the Christmas classic “Sleigh Ride.”
Frazier touched on each of the ways his path crossed with the Broadway performers, ranging from meeting at jazz clubs in New York, to masterclasses, to random phone calls looking for accompanists. The performers included tap dancing specialist Luke Hawkins, vocalists Hilary Morrow and Mary Michael Patterson and actor Claybourne Elder.
In the case of all those performers, Frazier said when he encountered each of them for the first time, he “knew he wanted to work with them all of the time.”
Throughout the night, Frazier made comments that brought the audience back to his time at OU. Frazier shouted the familiar chant of the Singing Men of Ohio, a group that he used to be a part of.
A flirtatious medley of “Let Me Entertain You” from Gypsy and “Santa Baby” performed by Morrow elicited cheers from the audience during the song.
One of the final pieces of the night was a full ensemble performance of “O Holy Night,” and afterward Frazier announced the ensemble had also prepared a new rendition of OU’s Alma Mater that was the final selection.
The performers enjoyed seeing people who call Athens home, and Patterson said the holiday season can be difficult for them because they may not go home because of their work.
“It has been such a pleasure being in your city this week,” Patterson said. “Here’s to home.”