Met Orchestra brass, Berlin Philharmonic horns, and two-time Grammy Award winning mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard have put together a festive concert to brighten the holiday season.
The live-stream concert begins at Dec. 13 at 3 p.m., filled with holiday favorites like “Deck the Halls,” “Angels We Have Heard on High,” “Dreidel Song,” and the beloved “Evening Prayer” from the opera “Hansel and Gretel.”
Lost in the forest in the dead of night, the two siblings in the opera sing a prayer, sometimes known as “The Children’s Prayer” before they go to sleep. Their moving expression of faith and hope brings forward 14 angels to gather around the children in protection, in Engelbert Humperdinck’s opera.
“It’s a program that you can watch with your family,” said Barbara Currie, horn player of the Met Orchestra, who has been hard at work to put together this online concert platform. “We decided to make it a very festive concert; most of it is your very typical holiday songs: ‘Joy to the World,’ ‘Deck the Halls,’ these beautiful holiday, winter [songs].”
Tickets are available now on the orchestra’s website at Spotlight.MetOrchestraMusicians.org. After the live concert, there is a live chat with mezzo soprano Isabel Leonard, who is hosting the concert. The concert video will be available to ticket holders through January, until Jan. 31, 2021.
This concert is the second in the Met Orchestra’s Spotlight Series program, which began this fall as a response to the prolonged shutdowns due to the pandemic.
Met Orchestra musicians, like their guests for this program, are among the best in the world. Like many other performing artists, they found themselves at a standstill earlier this year when the pandemic hit and live events across the nation were cancelled. Many prominent orchestras or ensembles have continued to keep their members on salary, but it wasn’t the case for the Met Orchestra, which was furloughed. A second disappointment came when the Met Opera recently announced the cancellation of the entire 2020-2021 season as well.
“It’s been very, very difficult. We’re spread out all over the world; we have a violinist in Taiwan, a clarinetist in China, people in Costa Rica … everyone’s spread out,” said Currie. “We hope that the Met doesn’t completely fall apart. We’re trying to keep it together.”
Over the summer, Currie reached out to Sarah Willis, the Berlin Philharmonic French horn player who has for years hosted music shows. Willis helped Currie figure out how to create an online concert platform, something entirely separate from and unsupported by management.
“We’re doing this all on our own, which is a big difference,” Currie said. It’s been a tremendous amount of work, with a new learning curve, and all the musicians have been doing this on a volunteer basis. The ticket sales will go towards reimbursing these musicians. “It’s a lot of work, it’s a whole lot of work, but it’s good for us.”