The Susanville Symphony Orchestra’s Christmas concert is arguably one of the orchestra’s most popular concerts of the year. File photo

Symphony Christmas concert performs this weekend

OK, last year’s Susanville Symphony Society’s Christmas concert landed pretty heavily on the classical side — Handel’s “Messiah ” with a Susanville Choral Society choir — conducted by Dennis Roberts.

“We’re going to have a little bit of classical music,” said Ben Wade, the orchestra’s artistic director and conductor, “but this year we’re going to be a little more zippy. It’s going to be a great, upbeat concert.”

Here’s something you don’t hear every day … Christmas swing arrangements from the 1940s.

Wade said, “I’ve actually pulled some Christmas swing band charts,” (for example, “Let It Snow” and “Jingle Bells).

Wade said the orchestra would perform parts of “The Nutcracker” for the hardcore classical fans, but then the orchestra will perform some Russian Christmas music.

The performance will include “Bugler’s Holiday” (arranged for a trumpet trio).

One highlight of the concert will be the Susanville premier of “O, Magnum Mysterium.” Written in 1994, it mixes Gregorian and modern influences through a nativity scene.

Another highlight will be the audience participation as those in attendance join the orchestra and sing some of the season’s most beloved Christmas carols.

“This will be a straight forward Christmas concert that everybody seems to love,” Wade said.

While the symphony performs at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 20 at the Assembly of God Church, patrons should note the time change for Saturday, as the concert begins at 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 21.

“We pushed it back so it will be like a late matinee,” Wade said.

He hopes to return to Sunday performances next season.

“The great thing about Christmas is that everybody knows the songs,” Wade said.

Jay Jones, a retired school teacher from Modoc County, will make his “guest conductor debut” during “Bugler’s Holiday.” Wade said Jones has been a band director for 30 years in our neighboring county to the north.

“He’s awesome,” Wade said. “When he showed up, and everybody was like, ‘Oh, really!’ The percussion guys were like, ‘Wow, we’ve really got to be on our toes. This guy’s legit!”

The concert is just days before Christmas, and Wade said the society scheduled the concert that way so local families could gather together and share the joy of Christmas at the concert.

“We wanted to try to catch the other family members coming into town so the entire family could share the joy of Christmas,” Wade said.

Tickets are available at Margie’s Book Nook or Axia Home Loans.

For more information, call the Symphony Hotline at 310-8111.