Grinch-Proof Performance

Old and new will merge this weekend at the Tucson Symphony Orchestra Pops! Holiday Spectacular, which mixes classic holiday songs with contemporary favorites.

"It's really like a TV variety show; it's got so many different performers in it," said Terry Marshall, a TSO spokesman.

The TSO Pops! Holiday Spectacular will feature the TSO Pops! Orchestra, along with the TSO Carolers, the Tucson Regional Ballet, Mariachi Aztlan de Pueblo High School and—to top it off—Santa Claus.

This holiday show goes beyond just Christmas music, Marshall said. "We've also got the sounds of Hanukkah in there."

Classics on the bill include "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," "O Holy Night," "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year," and many others, Marshall said.

The Tucson Regional Ballet will perform dances from A Southwest Nutcracker, including "The Chili Peppers," "The Ocotillo" and "The Tumbleweed."

Mariachi Aztlan de Pueblo High School, which consists entirely of Pueblo Magnet High School students, will perform "La Rondinella" and "Feliz Navidad Medley," Marshall said.

The show will end with the audience invited to sing along with the TSO Carolers, Marshall said.

Michael Hall will fly in from Florida to guest-conduct the holiday show for the fifth year in a row.

"I was very excited about the prospect to be back in Tucson and work with the orchestra again," said Hall, who is director of the Southwest Florida Symphony.

He said he loves the variety of the show. "We have a lot of special guests, real favorites who have been participating in the concert for a few years now," Hall said. "There's fantastic mariachi. And the Tucson Regional Ballet—they're not only dancing The Nutcracker, but also choreography to another Christmas selection by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov."

Both Marshall and Hall agreed that one of the highlights of this year's show will be a slightly different holiday piece: a special arrangement for bassoon titled "Bassoon It Will Be Christmas."

"It's kind of a whimsical piece which incorporates Christmas music with well-known classical pieces, and it's an opportunity for our bassoon section to show off their talents," Marshall said.

Hall said the piece "really gives a light-hearted new take on some of the very popular holiday songs, mixed in with a few classical pieces, too."

Hall said he enjoys working with the TSO audience.

"Holiday shows are fun, because you have such a wide range of ages in the audience—it's really geared toward the whole family."

With audience participation and Santa in the mix, the show "brings not just adults, but kids and families, too, something that makes this show a little different," Hall said. "There's a different atmosphere in shows like this than in other shows. It's very festive, and everybody's in a good mood."

If you're having trouble getting into the holiday spirit, you will probably hear or see something that will get you into a yuletide mood before the show is over, Marshall said.

"I don't want to say I am a Grinch, but sometimes, it's difficult for me to get into the holiday spirit," Marshall said. "This always does the trick."