, Salem, MA

November 26, 2012

This weekend's concerts are a tradition for city

By Alan Burke
Staff writer

---- — PEABODY — It’s expected to be a Peabody high note in more ways than one. The annual holiday concerts at City Hall are set for Saturday and Sunday.

“They’re awesome,” City Councilor Dave Gravel said. “I’ve gone every year.”

This show has been mounted for more than 20 years, but organizer Mary Bellavance is promising surprises this year.

“Things are going to happen,” she said.

She hinted at a guest appearance.

Even without the surprises, the Hillyer Festival Orchestra, directed by Dirk Hillyer; the Peabody High Chorale, directed by Jon Simmons; and singers Renese King and Peter Adams have attracted large crowds in year’s past.

“Renese King sings with the Boston Pops,” Bellavance said. “She is fantastic. Just to hear her sing is worth the price of admission.”

Adams doubles the talent, Bellavance said. “The two of them together click very well.”

Saturday’s show offers dinner provided by Vinwood Caterers at 7 p.m. and music starting at 8 p.m. On Sunday, dinner begins at 5 p.m., with the concert to follow at 6 p.m. Tickets are $25 for balcony seats, $40 for balcony table seats and $45 for balcony orchestra seats.

A cash bar will be provided.

All the money goes toward supporting the event, Bellavance said, with funds from other sources making up any shortfall.

“Tickets are selling well, but I still have tables open for both nights,” she said.

If you’ve gone before, you’ll still encounter things you haven’t ever seen or heard, Bellavance said. “Every year, we try to change in some way.”

“It’s not the same any year,” Gravel said.

He notes past shows that offered varied themes, from patriotism to Broadway show tunes to movie music.

But it’s the holidays, and especially Christmas, that are always front and center.

“Some years, I’ve taken my whole company there,” Gravel said. “It just gets you into a holiday mood.”