By Dean Wright
An Ohio Valley holiday tradition that has spanned nearly three decades as the weather takes a turn for the frosty is just around the corner.
The Christmas Show, put on by The Ohio Valley Symphony, packs its headquarters, the Ariel-Ann Carson Dater Performing Arts Centre in Gallipolis, year after year. This year’s show will be held at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3.
This year’s concert will consist of 59 musicians with all of the classic instruments one expects to hear from an orchestra including strings such as the violin and cello, woodwinds such as the flute and clarinet, brass such as the trumpet and tuba, and percussionists with timpani.
The arts centre is commonly referred to as the “Ariel Theatre” by locals and is a nonprofit agency led by Executive Director Lora Snow and its board of directors consisting of Paul Simon, Shirley Doss, Tracy Call, Jason Holdren, Mike Owens and Chris Petro.
Maestro Ray Fowler serves as music director of the symphony. He heads the symphony in its musical style choices, as well as piece selections, while also conducting musicians during performances.
The Ariel Theatre was once known as the Ariel Opera House and first opened in 1895. With the advent of Vaudeville and movies, the building fell into disuse. Snow and others formed a group to begin repairing and rehabilitating the theatre in 1988. In June 1990, the building held a grand reopening. In 2005, Ann Carson Dater purchased and offered it to the community as a permanent home for the symphony and as a performing arts centre.
“Everybody plays Christmas music in December,” Snow said. “Ray always works really hard to find a nice blend between the familiar (music) and introducing some new things, or maybe a familiar tune that’s arranged in a different way.”
For example, this year, the symphony will play two separate versions of the well-known Christmas classic, “What Child is This.” “Sleigh Ride,” a traditional piece the symphony has become known for playing every year, will also make a return. Audience members can look forward to “Winter Wonderland” and more.
This year will mark the 27th annual Christmas Show performed by the symphony. The show is always held the first Saturday of December. The show’s first appearance was in 1991, according to Snow. The symphony played three concerts its first season and one just so happened to fall on the first Saturday in December.
“Everybody liked (the scheduling) because there are so many other things going on (that month) in town,” Snow said. “Some city people asked us to always have it on that day so we have stuck with it to be able to coordinate with all the other festivities of the season.”
The Christmas Show has since become tradition for the Gallipolis Christmas season.
“In a world pulling all of us in so many directions, we are proud at The Ohio Valley Symphony to always present a well-focused concert for this holiday season which is both substantial and entertaining, (with) very innovative arrangements and adaptations of familiar Christmas music,” Fowler said.
ARIEL-ANN CARSON DATER PERFORMING ARTS CENTRE
426 Second Ave., Gallipolis, OH 45631
Upcoming OVS Shows
• Dec. 3: Christmas Show, 7:30 p.m.
• March 25: Vocalist Joan Ellison performs as Judy Garland, 7:30 p.m.
• April 22: “The Homecoming” with Philip Armstrong, 7:30 p.m.