There was a full, happy and expectant audience at the elegant San Bernardino California Theater, as Dean McVay made his introductory remarks prior to the Holiday Concert by the San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra. He thanked the sponsors who made it possible for this concert to be completely underwritten, and mentioned that this year was the celebration of Leonard Bernstein's 100th birthday.
Dean Anderson's commanding, authoritative persona took the podium for a splendid rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner.” The gentleman sitting right behind me joined many voices singing the famous words of our National Anthem.
The orchestra played a lively “Sleigh Ride” by Leroy Anderson, which was a great beginning to this holiday concert. A “Fantasia on Greensleeves” by Ralph Vaughan-Williams, was next, followed by “The Snow Maiden” which featured Pro Musica from Loma Linda, singing a notable addition to the orchestration. There were four segments to this suite, which Anderson spoke about as he introduced the piece.
Then came the world premier of “The Magi's Journey” by Nilo Alcala, who was welcomed on the stage by Anderson, was enjoyed by all.
After intermission, the San Bernardino Symphony played a gentle arrangement of “Christmas Hymn,” by Amy Grant and David Clydesdale.
David Archuleta's vocals dominated the second half of the evening, with great accompaniments by his group — keyboard artist and guitars, arranged up stage from the conductor's podium. His presence was warm and active as he sang “Holly Jolly Christmas,” by Johnny Marks, which Archuleta had arranged. Of the 13 programmed numbers, he arranged nine of them.
His clear tenor voice soared to the heights, as he sang smoothly and sweetly in his rendition of “ Be still my soul,” by Jean Sibelius, arranged by Kurt Bestor, dedicated to families and survivors of the 2015 terrorist attack.
The Symphony Orchestra played two selections from “The Nutcracker Ballet,” by Pytar Tchaikovsky: “Forest Firs” and “Waltz of the Flowers” when Archuleta briefly left the stage.
Sitting at the keyboard, Archuleta, presented his personal testimony prior to an encore number, which was a devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ, echoing “He is born! Alleluia!” His latest album, “Winter in the Air,” is a second Christmas offering, based on his faith in the Mormon philosophy, one of sincere and joyful basis for his stardom. Anderson joined the audience in applauding this youthful singer, composer and Christian rock star.
The conductor's comments throughout the performance were well said, his command of the orchestra outstanding as he led without a musical score most of the time, with the orchestra personnel obviously respecting and enjoying his laudable direction.
The next concert by our San Bernardino Symphony is listed as on Feb. 9, “A Night at the Pictures” featuring music by Rossini, Mozart and Mussorgsky, should be stirring.
Call (909) 381-5388, for tickets and information. Join the community to enjoy and support this 90th year of performances by our San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra.