by Linda Amiel Burns
On December 20, 2019, Carnegie Hall was sold out for The New York Pops Annual Holiday Celebration featuring singers Tony Desare, Capathia Jenkins, Judith Clurman’s Essential Voices USA and led, for the 11th season, by Music Director and Conductor Steven Reineke. In the Program Notes, Steven said that he “wanted to bring the spirit of Frank and Ella to life” calling this year’s concert: “A Frank and Ella Christmas.” This concert was inspired by the albums, Christmas Songs by Sinatra and Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas with several arrangements especially created for these legendary singers.
It is always thrilling to be at Carnegie Hall at this time of the year listening to the glorious sounds of The New York Pops, the largest independent pops orchestra in the US and the only professional symphonic orchestra in NYC that specializes in popular music. The program was varied and exciting as the silver voiced Capathia Jenkins treated us to a swinging “Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town” (Coots & Gilespie), “Winter Wonderland” (Bernard & Smith) along with Cahn & Van Heusen’s “The Secret of Christmas” and “I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm” (Irving Berlin). Capathia, along with her incredible vocal talents, recently joined the New York Pops Board of Directors.
Tony Desare opened with the traditional “O Come All Ye Faithful” and treated to “The Glow Worm,” with additional holiday lyrics by Mel Torme, a tender “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” (Kent & Gannon) along with his own composition “Christmas for You and Me.” A highlight of the evening Tony at the piano playing many different versions of “Jingle Bells” in the styles of everyone from Bob Dylan to Bruce Springsteen.
Capathia and Tony sang several duets such as Cahn and Styne’s “Let It Snow!” along with Frank Loesser’s “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” and Berlin’s “Count Your Blessings from Holiday Inn. Steven brought Judith Clurman to the stage to conduct her own composition (writtten with David Chase) “Eight Days of Light” to celebrate Chanukkah and the sounds of this remarkable orchestra along with Essential Voices USA . . . thrilling and inspirational.
At the end of the evening, Santa Claus and his elf came on stage to conduct a number for the Jingle, Jangle Sing-Along as the audience joined in song for such classics as “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,” “Frosty The Snowman”, “Here Comes Santa Claus” and closing with “Jingle Bells.” At this time of the year when music seems to fill the air, there is nothing better than hearing these holiday songs at Carnegie Hall with The New York Pops, the addition of Essential Voices USA and talented guest artists like Capathia Jenkins and Tony Desare.
Looking forward to seeing what Steven Reineke comes up with in 2020!
Photos: Magda Katz
For more info: Visit CarnegieHall.org or phone 212 247-7800