Things to Do in Fort Wayne and Beyond

Traditions live on at Holiday Pops

The Phil presents the sounds of the season


Dean Jackson

Whatzup Features Writer

Published December 1, 2021

Traditionalists and music lovers alike will find their toes tapping to holiday offerings from the Fort Wayne Philharmonic.

The sounds of the season will be presented in concert events over two weeks — both the Holiday Pops and the more classically focused Christmas by Candlelight promise to be events that will spark old memories and create new ones.

Emily Shannon said The Phil will delight the community.

“We have two different concerts for Holiday Pops – one that is at the Embassy Theater. That’s a large-scale concert with guest singers and generally Santa makes an appearance. There’s a lot of fun there.”

The other shows take place at venues in other cities around the region.

Lisa Vroman is the featured vocalist, accompanied by dozens of musicians and six other singers who will back up some of the pieces. Both the Fort Wayne and the road shows feature the full orchestra.

Pops serves as a good entry for most music lovers. It’s not steeped in what many would consider classic orchestra offerings.

“This is definitely for everyone,” Shannon said. “If you’re not sure if you love orchestral music, these are songs, pieces that you’ve probably heard your whole life during Christmas time. It puts everybody in that fun Christmas mood. Lots of traditional pieces, some sing-along parts. There’s an excerpt of the Hallelujah Chorus (from Handel’s Messiah) in there where everyone stands up. So it’s definitely for anyone who loves the holidays… It puts you right into the spirit.”

Many Opportunities to Catch a Show

There are six shows at the Embassy. Holiday Pops opens Friday, Dec. 10, with a Saturday matinee and an evening performance on Dec. 11. The following weekend will have shows on Saturday, Dec. 18 in the afternoon and evening. The series will close with a Sunday, Dec. 19, matinee.

Tickets start at $27, and The Phil also offers a family pack where you can purchase four tickets for $100 for select seats.

If you can’t make it to downtown Fort Wayne, the Philharmonic are coming to several other northeast Indiana venues. They will perform in Albion Dec. 12 at Central Noble High School and Columbia City on Dec. 15 at Columbia City Church of God, both shows with free admission.

Holiday Pops events will also occur in Angola, Dec. 21, at Trine University’s T. Furth Center for the Arts, and Wabash, Dec. 22, at the Honeywell Center, with tickets ranging from $35-$45.

The regional concerts help give The Phil a larger footprint and reach in Northeast Indiana.

“It’s a great way to reach out to our further community,” Shannon said. “It’s a great way to connect with those that maybe don’t get a chance to come all the way into Fort Wayne and to showcase the orchestra and show them all the things that we can do.”

The regional shows vary slightly from the Pops concerts at the Embassy, according to Shannon. They have different musical selections and guest vocals.

“These are a little shorter, but still have great traditional holiday favorites that are performed with guest singer Stephanie Carlson,” Shannon said. “All of our Holiday Pops concerts are conducted by Andrew Constantine.”

Shannon said for those who want a more traditional, classical Christmas, there is the Christmas by Candlelight performance at First Wayne United Methodist Church in downtown Fort Wayne on Thursday, Dec. 16, and Friday, Dec. 17.

“These are led by our chorus conductor, Benjamin Rivera. There are some soloists that will be performing. Some will perform along with the orchestra, and it’s filled with some fun classical Christmas favorites.”

It’s a uniquely different style of music from the pops concert.

“It’s more classical,” Shannon said. “There’s a Vaughan Williams piece, a piece from Bach. Then there will be an excerpt from Handel’s Messiah. It’ll be a really nice concert just without the full Messiah. It will be just a little different than what we’ve done in the past.”

Something for Everyone

Whatever the musical styles, Shannon said any concert from The Phil is meant to be fun.

“The concerts are open for everyone,” she said. “There’s no dress code or anything like that. The Holiday Pops concerts tend to be a little bit more casual. There are some folks who dress up in all their fun Christmas clothes. You’ll see lots of red sweaters, and some people might wear their fun ugly sweaters or just festive holiday attire. But there’s not a dress code of any sort.”

Year after year, people return, making memories and keeping traditions.

“It’s just part of their family,” Shannon said. This is what they do “during the Christmas time. It’s fun to see new faces, too, because that happens and new folks that come to just try it out for the first time. So it’s just great to see all the people coming together to listen to music.”

Shannon’s favorite part is the creation of memories.

“It’s great to be part of something that’s part of people’s traditional holiday memories,” she said.

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