Philharmonic holiday concerts feature classics, movie tunes Saturday

He was just a kid, not that much older than child actor Macaulay Culkin when he fell in love with the film “Home Alone” in the 1990s.

Justin John Moniz still can feel the impact of the movie even today.

“Just thinking of the character of Kevin McAllister (that Culkin portrayed) and his journey through the movie makes me light up — and rediscover my inner child,” said Moniz, speaking from his office where he works as coordinator of vocal studies at Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois.

The young tenor singer aims to light up the holidays for listeners when he performs three John Williams’ tunes from the “Home Alone” movie soundtrack and other material for a pair of seasonal concerts at 3 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday by the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic.

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“It’s almost like a childhood dream to be doing these three classics,” Moniz said.

The two-time winner of the prestigious American Prize in Vocal Performance enjoyed extra preparation of sorts for the show when he teamed recently with David Bowden, longtime Philharmonic music director, and the Terre Haute Symphony Orchestra with some of the same tunes at its holiday concert. With the Philharmonic, Moniz will sing “Bring Him Home from Broadway’s “Les Miserables,” an arrangement of “O Holy Night” and “Angels We Have Heard on High.”

Bowden still remembers when his wife, Donna, caught a Moniz performance in Florida — after the conductor already was interested in the vocalist.

“Donna came away from that concert saying, ‘He is spectacular,’” Bowden said. “He is so charismatic and so engaging on stage.”

This marks the first time in a number of years that the holiday concert is missing the Columbus Indiana Children’s Choir, which Bowden is passionate about. The issue is simply one of variety.

“What I hope to do every year is to present something that is so different from what has been done before that it makes people say ‘I’ve really got to go see that,’” Bowden said. “People sometimes kind of think that Christmas popsy concerts are all kind of the same repertoire. And I’m always looking for a way to change it up.”

This year, that change will include a lighthearted and brisk Leroy Anderson piece, “Clarinet Candy,” highlighting what Bowden calls a “fabulous” clarinet section. The ensemble has presented it only once before in its 32-year history.

“It is so much fun,” Bowden said.

Moniz acknowledged that he certainly aims for that to be part of his performance.

“The biggest thing that I would hope for people to bring away from the experience is a great appreciation for what the holidays mean,” Moniz said. “It’s a season of giving, a season of hope and a season of new beginnings. And many of us, as busy as we are, can tend to lose sight of that.

“This is a way for people to escape all that hustle and bustle, and to take an afternoon or evening to immerse themselves in the magic of the season.”

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Who: The Columbus Indiana Philharmonic with vocalist Justin John Moniz in a presentation of "Philharmonic Holidays!" 

When: 3 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday. While both shows are family friendly, the matinee is specifically designed for young children and their families. Santa will be in the lobby for both shows.

Where: Columbus East High School’s Clarence E. Robbins Auditorium, 230 S. Marr Road.

Tickets: $5 to $45, available at

Information: 812-376-2638.