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KSO presents ‘Merry Christmas, Darling,’ special yuletide favorites in two concerts at Greaves Hall

The Kentucky Symphony Orchestra’s programming philosophy seeks to present works first or at least differently than other orchestras. After 1999, the KSO left the Christmas holidays to local institutions with their annual traditional fare.

Stumbling upon a special edition re-issue of the 1978 Carpenters Christmas Portrait album, KSO music director James Cassidy, found a treasure trove of nearly 40 tunes associated with Christmas. Traditional carols, pop songs, sacred tunes, standards, even The Nutcracker were all in this wonderful frappe of yuletide favorites featuring Karen and Richard Carpenter, backed by a studio choir and orchestra playing arrangements of Billy May, Peter Knight and Richard Carpenter.

The Carpenters were the #1 selling American music act of the 1970s, selling over 100 million singles and albums world-wide. Richard’s piano, writing and producing together with sister Karen’s drums, and inimitable contralto vocals produced a 14-year run of hit recordings (including 3 number ones), before Karen’s untimely death in 1983.

“I always thought this Christmas album would make a great live concert, but getting it from CD or vinyl to notes on a page, then finding someone, to not necessarily imitate Karen Carpenter, but to bring her vocal style to the mix was going to be a challenge. It all finally came together when KSO long-time (27 years) arranger Terry LaBolt moved back to Cincinnati from Bloomington (IU), and agreed to take on adapting the recording to live performance.

Terry also recalled a vocalist — Denise Parroco — with whom he had worked at Kings Productions in Mason and in Virginia, who had recently sung “Merry Christmas, Darling” as a video Christmas card to friends,” Cassidy explained.

It is extremely rare for fans to experience an entire album performed live or enjoy the nostalgia of one of America’s most celebrated recording duos, all wrapped in a bow for KSO holiday audiences.

This season try something old and new for your holiday/arts entertainment by joining Denise Parroco, an octet of professional singers, and the KSO for Merry Christmas, Darling (two nights only) — 7:30 p.m. Friday & Saturday, December 15 and 16 at Greaves Concert Hall on the campus of NKU.

For additional info and tickets — kyso.org or call (859) 431-6216. (Mistletoe not included.)

Kentucky Symphony Orchestra

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