Thanksgiving is done and a new year is right around the corner, but the holiday music is just getting started.

As we venture into the thick of December, whether we're ready for it or not, the Savannah Philharmonic’s Holiday Pops concerts are here to help liven up the season.

The Philharmonic offers three shows spread out over the weekend, kicking off at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7, with a repeat performance at the same time Dec. 8.

Also on Dec. 8, they will host a matinee that will feature the Savannah Children’s Choir in an abbreviated, family-friendly concert at 3 p.m. Prior to that, the Savannah Ballet Theatre will perform with a special appearance from Santa and Mrs. Claus at 2 p.m.


The Holiday Pops programming was put together by Artistic Director and Conductor Peter Shannon, as well Chorusmaster Matt Caine, who replaced Monica Harper Dekle this year. Caine comes to the Philharmonic as Shannon finishes out his last season at the helm.

“I’ve really enjoyed working with Peter and working with the chorus,” Caine said. “I am sad that this is Peter’s last season with us, because I am really enjoying my first season with him. He’s such a great colleague and such a great musician and person. At least I’ve got the whole season left to work with him. The chorus and the orchestra are wonderful. I am looking forward to the Holiday Pops concert.”

The Philharmonic has a number of special treats in store for this year’s concert, including an interesting and varied program. American Traditions Vocal Competition’s 2018 Gold Medalist, Erica Gabriel, will be a guest soloist at all three shows.

“We are delighted as always to bring the full orchestra and chorus together for all of your Christmas favorites,” Shannon said. “The evening holiday concerts always have an added extra because we have the American Traditions Competition Gold Medal winner as our featured soloist.”

“You’re going to hear a variety of things,” Caine said. “You’re going to hear some instrumental pieces, some familiar and some unfamiliar, that span the repertoire from classical to popular. You’ll hear music from chorus and orchestra together that spans everything from Christmas carols to excerpts from Handel’s ‘Messiah’ to some other things that will be new and different but will become audience favorites as well. There’s a Hanukkah piece that’s for orchestra alone.

"I am sure Peter has a few tricks up his sleeve as well that I am not even aware of!”

One of the Philharmonic’s key attributes over its 10-year life has been introducing audiences to modern composers. During almost every season, Shannon has made a point to pair new compositions with standards of symphonic music. At this past year’s season opener, they debuted “Ten,” written by Richard Sortomme.

Caine is planning on continuing that tradition and for the Holiday Pops concerts, he’s got a special piece in store.

“One of the pieces I’ll be conducting on the program is called, ‘Arise, Shine!’ by a composer who lives in South Carolina, Dan Forrest,” Caine said. “He’s becoming a big name in the choral world. This piece is for chorus and orchestra together. It was written in 2007, I believe. I think it’s our honor and duty as conductors and musicians to present the music of our time, the music of living composers, as well as the music that has stayed the course of time.”