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Philharmonic, local choir to perform 'Home for the Holidays'

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Some of Steven Greathouse’s best holiday memories revolve around watching the film “White Christmas” by the fire with his family.

“That’s especially important since this is my first year being away from home,” said Greathouse, speaking by phone from Decatur, Ill., where he is a freshman vocal performance major at Millikin University.

The 2012 Columbus North High School graduate and baritone will croon “White Christmas” at Sunday’s pair of “Home For the Holidays” concerts with the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic.

Forget the fact that Sunday’s forecast says the temperature could reach the unseasonable mid-50s. Indoors, Greathouse is determined to usher in considerable holiday cheer. He asks only that listeners allow him to bypass any Bing Crosby impersonation.

“It’s a lot of pressure,” he said. “And there’s a lot to live up to with this. But the first thing I do when I sing any song, whether it’s Broadway or a classic, is I dissect the text and decide how it personally affects me.

“And the way I’m singing this is very simplistic.”

Greathouse’s weekend appearance is by virtue of being the winner of the 2012 Anna Newell Brown Award for Vocal Excellence competition. The orchestra regularly invites the instrumental and vocal winner of the Brown Music Scholarships competition to play at the ensemble’s holiday performances.

Hiroki Kato, the other winner, remembers his saxophone lessons when he arrived in Columbus five years ago from his native Japan. He knew almost no English when he arrived.

“I sometimes couldn’t understand a word people were saying to me,” he said.

On Sunday, Kato will rely on music’s universal language when he performs “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” on the saxophone. He laughed when asked about the chance to perform before a potential audience of 2,000 people.

“I just can’t stop smiling,” he said, speaking by phone from Ohio’s Bowling Green State University, where he is a music performance major on full scholarship.

Yet, to hear him speak, he sounds as if he is majoring in humility.

“I love college, because all the other music students are better than me,” Kato said. “So I am learning so much from them.”

Besides homegrown talent, Sunday’s concerts will highlight a cast of holiday characters, such as Jesus, Amahl, Frosty the Snowman and Santa. Also, the Columbus Indiana Children’s Choir will offer seasonal favorites, “The Holly and the Ivy,” “Arruru” and a medley of the “Festive Sounds of Hanukkah.”

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