The Corvallis-OSU Symphony Orchestra and Oregon State University's choirs team up Friday night for a holiday concert that offers a mix of seasonal treats — a musical buffet, if you will.
"We like this to be a very ecumenical program," said Marlan Carlson, the musical director of the symphony, and the proof, as they say, is in the pudding: The program includes Leonard Bernstein's 1965 Chicaster Psalms, Tchaikovsky's suite from "The Nutcracker" suite, a medley of Hanukkah tunes, the Hallelujah Chorus and a selection of sing-along holiday favorites.
And polkas. Did we mention the polkas?
The concert opens with a selection of five polkas from Old Vienna, a tip of Carlson's hat to the annual New Year's Day concert put on every year by the Vienna Philharmonic. Carlson offers no apologies for starting the show with these polkas: "They only take a couple of minutes," he said. "They're snappy and fun."
But the concert's centerpiece is the Bernstein work, which will involve the OSU Chamber Choir, Bella Voce and the OSU Meistersingers. Steven Zielke, OSU's director of choral studies, will conduct.
Carlson said the 1965 work came at a time when Bernstein was deciding whether to follow the lead of other contemporary composers and deciding whether to explore 12-tone techniques and other relatively harsher harmonics. "He struggled with this and he decided it was not for him. ... Bernstein went to the edge of the abyss, looked over and decided not to leap."
A trio of biblical psalms provide the text for the work.
The orchestra also plans to perform Tchaikovsky's suite from "The Nutcracker" for the first time in years. "It's just too good a piece to not do for very long," Carlson said.
A sing-along featuring eight beloved carols and the Hallelujah Chorus from "The Messiah" wrap up Friday's performance.
"It's a bit of this and that and everything else," Carlson said.