Columbus Symphony plans holiday ‘gift to community’

Strings players perform at a past Columbus Symphony Orchestra rehearsal.

The Republic file photo

During a season known for its incredible eats, guest conductor Chris Bade offers a pinch of the programming for the Columbus Symphony Orchestra’s free Holiday concert at 3:30 p.m. Dec. 3 at The Commons.

“It’s a Leroy Anderson sandwich,” said a chuckling Bade, a music professor who leads the orchestra at Taylor University in Upland.

The performance, “A CSO Holiday,” includes the legendary Christmas tunesmith near the beginning and the end of the afternoon, with plenty else in between.

The program includes Sergei Prokofiev’s “Troika”; “The Ukrainian Bell Carol” by Mykola Leontovych; Johann Strauss Jr.’s “The Emperor Waltzes”; and a pops number titled “A Rockin’ Christmas.”

Violinist Laura Andrews’ strings students will present pre-concert holiday music at 3 p.m.

The featured singers at this concert? The audience, because Bade has included no fewer than seven singalongs into the event at three different segments of the program.

And the mostly volunteer ensemble intends to slay at the end with the joyous “Sleigh Ride.”

Bade knows the orchestra well. He conducted once last season in the final performance when then-music director Josh Aerie gave up his baton to take up his cello and perform Brahms’ double concerto alongside violinist Phil Palermo.

“One of the things I really love about the CSO is just the joyful attitude of the people in the group,” Bade said. “They represent such a complete community effort.”

And complete dedication to the cause when it comes to members such as trombonist Steve Roskowski, nursing a broken arm. But his physical therapist has fashioned a special splint so he can play at this concert. He missed the last one.

Because the show is free, the musicians always call this presentation “a gift to the community.”

“We like to have this be a fun concert for the audience and feel that our variety of styles helps make that happen,” Roskowski said. “We also always hope that first-time concert-goers with us enjoy what they hear enough to come share other Sundays with us with our more traditional orchestral repertoire.”

Bade loves the chance to reach new listeners.

“I want the audience to have a blast,” he said. “For me personally, this is an Advent thing, because I really look forward to the season, and what this season really means.

“And I still see it as a privilege for a community to have its own orchestra. And Columbus has two.”

Or three, if you count a growing Columbus City Band.

About the concert

Who: Columbus Symphony Orchestra.

What: “A CSO Holiday,” performances of holiday music and seasonal favorites.

When: 3:30 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 3.

Where: The Commons, 300 Washington St. in downtown Columbus.

Admission: Free.