BJSO ready to share gift of music for the holidays

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Ashley McCallum
Wednesday, December 6, 2017

JANESVILLE—Mariah Carey, Wham!, Dean Martin and Kelly Clarkson are part of a large company of artists that has recorded holiday love songs.

Among that company is Rob Tomaro, music director and conductor of the Beloit Janesville Symphony Orchestra.

Tomaro wrote and recorded “Don't Open 'Till Christmas,” a song he describes as a love story between a woman and a man who wants to get his love back.

The song was released as a commercial single this year, Tomaro said. He is pleased by the positive feedback he has received from people around the world.

But “Don't Open” is not Tomaro's favorite holiday song. His favorite is “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” and he hopes to eventually find an arrangement of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” for the Beloit Janesville Symphony Orchestra to perform at a future holiday concert.

Meanwhile, this year's BJSO Holiday Pops Concerts will be at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16, at Eaton Chapel on the Beloit College campus, and at 2  p.m. Sunday, Dec. 17, at the Janesville Performing Arts Center.

“This is our traditional holiday concert that people can come to expect and really enjoy,” Tomaro said.

Crowd favorites such as “White Christmas,” “Carol of the Bells” and “March of the Toys” can be expected for the show, Tomaro said. “The Nutcracker Suite” is often most anticipated by those who attend, he added.

Along with traditional favorites come additions to this year's concert, said Edie Baran, executive director of the BJSO.

New this year, local actor David Bitter will narrate “Twas the Night Before Christmas” alongside the orchestra, Baran said. Bitter also will play guitar to a sing-along with Santa Claus on stage.

“Rob's going to be directing him just as he is going to direct all the different instruments,” Baran said. “That's going to be really cool.”

Adding an interactive component to a live musical performance helps audience members connect to the performance, Baran said.

“I've gone to many different types of live performances, and people love having any kind of interaction with what's going on stage,” Baran said. “It makes people feel so much more a part of it. This brings us much closer together.”

Refreshments and opportunities for pictures with Santa will be available in the lobby after the show, Baran said. Raffles, a silent auction and a pecan sale also are planned for the Beloit program.

Tickets for children accompanied by adults are free, Baran said. She said BJSO hopes to introduce people to symphony orchestra shows to help prove they are more than what people might expect.

“A lot of people still have a misconception that the symphony orchestra is not for everybody, but it is,” Baran said. “You don't have to know a thing about classical music to appreciate how it sounds.”

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