, Salem, MA

December 20, 2012

Orchestra On The Hill to celebrate the season

By Will Broaddus
Staff writer

---- — Does anyone know the second stanza of “Jingle Bells?” Did anyone even know there was a second stanza?

“The second one is less known,” said Michael Pearlman, president, chairman of the board and bass player for The Orchestra On The Hill, which is based in Ipswich.

That’s why Pearlman is including the words in a program, along with those of the other, more obscure songs they’ll play at their concert Saturday night.

But that is only the first in a number of ways the concert will expand our sense of holiday musical customs.

While featuring several solo performances and two world premieres from local composers, the concert will also recognize several religious traditions.

One of the world premieres, by orchestra board member Larry Constantine of Rowley, is called “Celebration (Hanukkah).”

“Larry has written that for chorus, bass and piano,” Pearlman said. “Even though Hanukkah is over, we tried to make this a well-rounded concert, and Larry was gracious enough to write this.”

Two older works by Constantine that will be included in the singalong include one, “A Winter Solstice Canon,” that recalls the earliest forms of religion.

“All the winter celebrations have some start in the original people,” Pearlman said. “It’s part of the broadening, a program that represents other traditions besides the Christian.”

The other world premiere, “Gabriel’s Calling” by composer and poet G. Paul Naeger of Ipswich, does acknowledge Christmas themes.

“It’s a melodic piece that is uplifting,” Pearlman said. “It’s lovely; the textures are beautiful. The way the orchestra plays it, it is very peaceful and builds to a crescendo at the end with tympani. It’s going to be very enjoyable for the audience.”

The soloists include the orchestra’s founder and conductor, Thomas Palance, who teaches at Salem State University and was formerly assistant principal of The U.S. Navy’s premier concert band. Palance will play a trumpet solo on Georg Handel’s “Let the Bright Seraphim from Samson,” which will also feature soprano Briana Paquin, who studied voice and theater at Salem State.

In addition, Paquin will sing “Oratorio de Noël, Op. 12” by French composer Camille Saint-Saens.

The Festival Chorus, which will appear throughout the concert, is directed by Stephen Moore, an adjunct professor at Endicott College who also directs the North Shore Stompers Marching Band with his son David.

The Orchestra On The Hill was founded six years ago, Pearlman said, and includes four teenaged members.

“It is a community orchestra, the mission of which is to encourage both adult musicians and talented teen musicians to rehearse and play orchestral music,” he said.

“It grew out of the First Church in Ipswich, where we rehearse, and the minister, Rebecca Pugh, is a violinist. The church is on the top of a hill, and that’s where our name came from.”

If you go What: "Music for the Holidays" with The Orchestra On The Hill When: Saturday, Dec. 22, 7:30 p.m. Where: Ipswich Performing Arts Center, 134 High St., Ipswich Information: Admission free, suggested donation $15. Information at 978-948-5012.