Choral Arts Society of Washington’s ‘Family Christmas Concert’ at The Kennedy Center by Audrey Thornton


An appreciative Washington, D.C. metro audience overflowing with young little people and their parents and grandparents, too, were treated to tales of Christmases’ past, performed in a 60 minute theatrical concert which found Catherine Flye (Grandma) and Dylan Kaufman (Grandson Bobby) rediscovering the spirit of Christmas supported by visits from Frosty, Rudolph, and Santa!

Photo courtesy of The Choral Arts Society of Washington, DC,

To everyone’s appreciation, under the direction of Dr. Joseph Holt (Music Director and Conductor), the famous The Choral Arts Society of Washington‘s chorus demonstrated the artistic vocal excellence for which they are widely known around the world; supported by the Chorus’ musical ensemble of John Terry Bingham and John Abbracciamento (Trumpet); Gus Mitchell (Trombone); Eric Seay (Double Bass); Brian Anderson (Horn); Jon Voth (Tuba); Karin Firsow (Piano); and Thomas Dell’Omo (Percussion). Created through the vision of Writer and Director Garth Bardsley, to help family and friends pause, reflect, and recharge spirits in the holiday season, Artistic Director Scott Tucker and Choreographer Sara Hart collaborated to translate their considerable talents into a pleasurable showcase which drew our attention back to nostalgic Christmases of yesteryear. Ms. Flye, quoted American poet Grace Noll Crowell (1877-1906) in “Let Us Keep Christmas,” and entreated us:

“Whatever else be lost among the years,
Let us keep Christmas still a shining thing;
Whatever doubts assail us, or what fears,
Let us hold close one day, remembering
In poignant meaning for the hearts of men,
Let us get back our childlike faith again.”

The concert began with the Chorus’ singing of “We Need A Little Christmas,” and “Home for the Holidays.” Narrator Bob Mcdonald’s rich, polished baritone voice provided a soulful rendition of “A Christmas Love Song” and to the routinely heard salutation of “Have a nice day,” in keeping with the season, Mr. Macdonald elicited a cheerful audience response of “Merry Christmas!” Ms. Flye’s considerable skill as an actor provided a strong foundation for her superior performance in this light, upbeat theatrical production which begged the question, “Is Santa real or unreal?” A little doubting by Dylan Kaufman (‘Bobby’) – who insisted the school bully ‘didn’t believe in Christmas’ – was deflected by Grandma’s’ insistence that she absolutely did believe in Santa. Mr. Kaufman was a delight, had great stage presence and was clearly impressive with the memorization of his lines. Three young ladies and dancers -Tiffany Chatfield, Kelsey Kaufman and Veronica Quezad - added a touch of magic with their graceful movements in white ballerina skirts and ballet shoes in “Snow,” and other traditional carols.

Although the production was targeted for five year olds and older, some of the songs chosen might have been challenging and unfamiliar for the younger set who predominantly attended this performance. However, by the time the show progressed to traditional carols, “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town;” “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Frosty, the Snowman [a BIG hit];” and “Jingle Bells,” there was enthusiasm and full audience participation; I immensely enjoyed hearing the children singing and being invited to stand provided an outlet for their pent-up energy.

Start a tradition – this nostalgic annual Choral Arts Society of Washington’s Family Concert is a delightful treat good to always have on your Christmas holiday calendar. It is a wonderful introduction to theater-going musical venues and a step above the usual weekend technology-laden entertainment available to most children.

Run Time: One hour, with no intermission.

A Family Christmas played December 16, 2012 at 1:00 p.m., at The John F. Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall – 2700 F Street, NW, in Washington, D.C. For tickets to future events of the Choral Arts Society, purchase them online, or call the box office at (202) 467-4600.

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