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2 home-grown stars and a cast of hundreds celebrate the holidays with Symphoria Pops

Lyncourt native Sean O’Loughlin will conduct, and Manlius Pebble Hill graduate Lizzie Klemperer will perform as featured vocalist, for three Crouse-Hinds Auditorium shows of the annual Symphoria “Holiday Pops.” Opening night is Dec. 13 at 7:30 p.m. with two shows Dec. 14 at 1:30 and 7:30 p.m.

O’Loughlin, principal pops conductor of Symphoria and the Victoria (British Columbia) Symphony, has an international reputation as a composer, arranger and conductor. But, his roots run deep in Central New York and, he says, he likes nothing better than coming home to appear on the region’s biggest stage with the professional musicians of Symphoria.

Making his home now in California, O’Loughlin says he’s spent autumn composing works for his publisher; guest conducting at the Sacramento Philharmonic, where he appeared with Marcus Scott from the Tower of Power, and programming the Symphoria extravaganza. He says he loves working with the Syracuse Pops Chorus, under the direction of Lew Lemos, and the “wonderful dancers” from The Ballet and Dance Center.

“For me, the holiday favorites include music from the treasured perennial TV specials like ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ and ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” O’Loughlin says. “When those come on TV, I always know it’s time to head to Syracuse for the traditional pops concert.”

Lizzie Klemperer, who last appeared with Symphoria in February 2017 will be back to sing some of the season’s favorites. “She brings an infectious Broadway style to “We Need A Little Christmas” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and several other selections,” O’Loughlin says.

Klemperer, who just completed a run as Betty Schaefer in “Sunset Boulevard” for North Shore Music Theater, continues a family tradition of local entertainment. Her mother and father, Christine (opera singer) and Fred Klemperer (violinist), met as students at Ithaca College and have performed with Syracuse Opera, Symphoria, and for special concerts throughout the country.

“I’m really happy to be coming home to sing again with Sean and the talented musicians of the orchestra,” Klemperer says. “My favorite song on the concert is ‘Man with the Bag.’ It’s one I discovered over the last couple of years that has become a definite favorite in my the holiday repertoire.”

Families who anticipate some of the traditions associated with “Holiday Pops” won’t be disappointed according to O’Loughlin.

“The traditional ballet of ‘The Nutcracker’ is always a highlight of our program. We even have a Russian version of a sleigh ride to pair with the American one this year. Our music of Chanukah takes on a new twist this year with an exciting original work from composer Michael Isaacson,” O’Loughlin says.

“People in the audience will be invited to join in a new sing along we are going to debut this year, and I’m certain the ‘Man With the Bag’ will make an appearance to spread holiday cheer.”

Regional Concerts

In addition to Crouse-Hinds concerts, Symphoria also will perform concerts around the greater Central New York region. The Syracuse Pops Chorus will sing for the run-out Messiah concerts!

Dec. 6, 7:30 p.m., Christmas Messiah, Oswego, St. Mary of the Assumption Dec. 8, 4 p.m., Christmas Messiah, Auburn, St. Mary’s Church Dec. 9, 7:30 p.m., Christmas Messiah, Cortland, United Presbyterian Church Dec. 11, 7:30 p.m., Holiday Brass, Rome, St. Peter’s Church Dec. 14, 3 p.m., Holiday Pops, Herkimer, Herkimer High School

The Details

Who: Holliday Pops, Sean O’Loughlin conducting

What: Pops concert

Where: Crouse-Hinds concert hall at John H. Mulroy Civic Center, 421 Montgomery St.

When: Friday, Dec. 13 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 14 at 1:30 and 7:30 p.m.

Length: Two hours with intermission

Tickets: 315-299-5598 or online here.

Cost: $20-$90; $5 with college ID, and those under 18 free.