Every year as Thanksgiving passes and December dawns, I pledge to make it a festive holiday season for my family of three by enjoying all the sights and events the DMV region has to offer. See the National Christmas Tree; drive through the Festival of Lights at Upper Marlboro’s Festival of Lights; and shop until the wee hours at Annapolis’ Midnight Madness!
Every year, however, between a busy work schedule and numerous social obligations, our family never seems to make it to any of these places.
Luckily, this year, we were able to carve out time for “A Family Christmas” with Choral Arts at The Kennedy Center—and how glad I am! Along with my husband and seven-and-a-half-year-old son, I attended the Christmas Eve show, which was 60 minutes full of holiday cheer, some incredibly talented musicians, and a few special guests.
However, don’t for a second think that ‘A Family Christmas’ was just an hour of staid Christmas carols that required all of the children in attendance to sit patiently, waiting until it was all over…it might just become an annual family tradition.
The Choral Arts Society is helmed by Artistic Director Scott Tucker (who announced in August that this will be his last season with the organization), who served as the conductor and emcee of the family show. The chorus, decked out in holiday gear, was joined by the brass ensemble, as well as pianist Brandon Straub, percussionist Thomas Dell’Omo, and guitarist Michael Bard.
The program featured holiday classics, including beautiful arrangements of “White Christmas” and “Joy to the World” (the latter was guest-conducted by a 11-year-old representative from the Children’s Chorus of Washington, D.C., whose name I, unfortunately, didn’t catch).
However, don’t for a second think that “A Family Christmas” was just an hour of staid Christmas carols that required all of the children in attendance to sit patiently waiting until it was all over. Oh, no—the whole audience was up and out of their seats to join in the singing and dancing fun of the “Rudolph Pokey” and, somewhat exhausting but also entertaining, “The 12 Days of Christmas.” Little princes and princesses were also thrilled to see “Princess Tesla”— as she is called in this age of litigation—belt out “Let It Go,” from Disney’s “Frozen.”
That first one, a twist on the “Hokey Pokey,” welcomed a special guest, Rudolph himself, out onto the stage. (At the end of the song as Rudolph waved goodbye, my son muttered sadly, “I miss him already.”) Later, an uninvited guest paid a visit, the green brute himself, for a rendition of “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.” Kids got a real kick out of The Grinch slinking around the stage’s balcony, with Mr. Tucker seemingly unaware as the children yelled and pointed to the unwelcome visitor.
Of course, no family Christmas show would be complete without a visit from the jolly ol’ elf himself, Santa Claus. Frosty showed up, too! The whole holiday gang finished out the show in perfect time, right around when kids are ready to move onto the next activity, no matter how festively fabulous the performance may have been.
After the depressing holiday season of 2020, it was so wonderful to enjoy a live Christmas concert this year. (Note: All guests, no matter the age, must show proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID test, as well as wear a mask the entire time.) Next year, when I make a holiday pledge to indulge in some merriment, I’ll remember Choral Arts’ “A Family Christmas”—it might just become an annual family tradition.
“A Family Christmas” was performed on on Saturday, December 18 at 2:00 pm and Friday, December 24 at 11:00 am at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2700 F St NW, Washington, DC 20566. For more information on upcoming offerings at the Kennedy Center, please visit here.