Arts & Culture

Review: Ava Pine leads dazzling Dallas Symphony Christmas Pops concert

A resplendent and silvery voiced Ava Pine headlines this year’s edition of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s extravagant Christmas Pops concert series.

The Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, assisted by the Children’s Chorus of Greater Dallas, join solo soprano Pine in a lavishly produced, family-friendly program of Christmas music: sacred selections, favorite carols and hits from popular culture.

Santa Claus drops in, and a gentle snow falls inside the hall as the program concludes. A packed house at the Meyerson Symphony Center on Sunday afternoon responded enthusiastically all the way through.

Pine, a Texas native, Texas Christian University alumna and Grammy nominee, is a local audience favorite. She regularly appears with both the Dallas and the Fort Worth symphonies and operas.

She now has an international career, and every time she returns to North Texas, she has improved: Her voice continues to fill out into a rich, full lyric sound. She performed Max Reger’s stunning adaption of Mariä Wiegenlied (Mary’s Cradle Song), a soaring version of Adolphe Adam’s O Holy Night and some joyous renditions of familiar carols. In each, Pine delivered a flawless performance.

Guest conductor Lawrence Loh is another a local favorite. He was the assistant conductor (promoted to associate) of the DSO from 2001 to 2005. Currently, he enjoys a successful and expanding career. On the podium, his baton technique is efficient: all about clarity while conveying strong musical instincts. His brief and personable commentaries on the music were both enjoyable and educational.

Cynthia Nott’s ensembles of youngsters (there are many that make up the Children’s Chorus of Greater Dallas) have earned national renown and are another local treasure. They sing with clear voices and admirable intonation, and present themselves with a professionalism far beyond their years (the oldest choristers are just 12).

The Dallas Symphony Chorus, under the expert direction of Joshua Habermann, continues to impress at every appearance. There is a depth and evenness to the sound that few other choruses can match.

This is, as advertised, a steadfastly “Christmas” concert. There is even a tradition of reading the Nativity passages from the Gospel of Luke (this year dramatically delivered by Pine).

The concert is magnificently played, reverently programmed and theatrically produced. You will be hard-pressed to find a better Christmas Pops concert anywhere else.

Dallas Symphony Christmas Pops

  • Through Dec. 20
  • Meyerson Symphony Center, Dallas
  • $19-$119
  • 214-692-0203; www.mydso.com
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