Jacksonville Symphony’s Holiday Pops tradition returns to Jacoby Symphony Hall

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Jacksonville Symphony’s annual Holiday Pops concerts will take place Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 7 at 11 a.m. (Coffee Concert with abbreviated program) and 8 p.m.; Dec. 8 at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.; and Dec. 9 at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts in Jacoby Symphony Hall.

This year’s concerts will feature the Jacksonville Symphony Chorus and dancers from Douglas Anderson School of the Arts Dance and Theater program. Additionally, the finale will include Jacksonville’s one and only “guaranteed snowfall.”

Highlights of this year’s performance include:

An arrangement of Alan Silvestri’s “Chanukah Festival Overture”

Favorites such as “White Christmas” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

Suites from holiday film favorites “The Polar Express” and “Home Alone”

The horse whinny and slapstick of Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride” 

The traditional audience sing-along

Holiday Pops will be conducted by Jacksonville Symphony Associate Conductor Nathan Aspinall. Recent performances of Aspinall’s include Handel’s “Messiah,” Prokofiev’s “Cinderella” and a Masterworks Series production “Pictures at an Exhibition” with organist Cameron Carpenter. Formerly, he held the position of young conductor with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra where he assisted Chief Conductor Johannes Fritzsch and visiting guest conductors. He also conducted concerts for the education series. Aspinall studied French horn and conducting at the University of Queensland and upon graduation was awarded the Hugh Brandon Prize. 

Joining Aspinall on stage will be vocalist Ben Gulley, an operatic tenor and cultural entrepreneur who has won awards and competitions throughout the nation for his singular blend of talents. He has also been featured with symphonies, theaters and opera companies around the globe. 

This 2018-19 season will see Gulley’s return to Opera San Luis Obispo as Tamino in “Die Zauberflöte” and Sarasota Opera as Ismaele in Verdi’s “Nabucco,” his debut as Doctor Marianus in Mahler’s Eighth Symphony with South Dakota Symphony. 

Recent performances for Gulley include his Carnegie Hall debut with The American Symphony, Rodolfo in “La bohème” at Opera Orlando, Eisenstein in “Die Fledermaus” with Opera Idaho, Énée in “Les Troyens” with Maestro Kent Nagano at Staatsoper Hamburg and Pedro in “Tiefland” at Sarasota Opera. Gulley has appeared in concerts with David Foster, Opera Steamboat, Grand Rapids Symphony, Orlando Philharmonic and Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra, among others.

In addition to his career in classical forms, Gulley is equally at home in musical theater and as a singer/songwriter. He has released his debut solo album of original pop music, “IN BETWEEN,” and helped compose and develop two new musicals with Rocky Mountain Repertory Theater and the Kansas City Repertory Theater. He is a founding board member of Kansas City’s premier opera company, Opera 180, and a sitting member on the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Alumni Board.

For more information on the Symphony, visit JaxSymphony.org.

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