Hillsdale College Symphony Orchestra to perform led Director of Orchestras and Choirs James Holleman.

After the Hillsdale Symphony Orchestra plays Dvorak’s off-the-beaten-track 8th Symphony, it’ll sprinkle holiday cheer with Christmas music during its winter concert, which runs Saturday to Sunday.

It’s rare, but the calendar presented an opportunity for Christmas pop music this year, according to Professor of Music James Holleman. Last year, the orchestra couldn’t follow through with its winter repertoire because of the “Messiah” performances and a trip to D.C. happening in January, but this year, the rehearsal schedule is different. 

Despite these conflicts, the students still had a certain positive spirit about the Christmas music, Holleman said.

So this year, the orchestra will delight audience members with renditions of the first suite from Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker Suite,” Leroy Anderson’s arrangement of carols in “A Christmas Festival,” and music from “The Polar Express.”  

“This concert has really nice balance between the heavy, academic classical in the first portion and then at the end, fun Christmas music, while still being real orchestra repertoire,” concertmaster junior Joshua Brown said. “The Nutcracker is the most fun, complex thing to listen to of the music we’re playing. It’s something you don’t often get to hear from a full orchestra.” 

Brown, who admitted the orchestra cheated by two rehearsals on the “no Christmas music before Thanksgiving” rule, said he has fun playing the selections because it doesn’t happen often and won’t become a yearly orchestra tradition. 

That’s because when the orchestra has a four-concert cycle, Holleman said he is typically hesitant to spend some of it on Christmas music. 

“There’s a lot of repertoire we need to play, we need to experience,” he said. “It really fell into place this concert: The rehearsal schedule, everything. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. I think the audience is going to love it.”