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Orchestra of NNY celebrates the holidays with scores of students


The Orchestra of Northern New York’s “A Holiday Celebration” also will celebrate the singing talents of students in six school districts in St. Lawrence and Jefferson counties.

For at least one of the school choral directors, the collaboration is a dream come true.

“For our kids to sing in a mass choir experience with other selected schools with the professional symphony is pretty incredible,” said Kathryn M. Ingerson, Thousand Islands Central School District music director. “It gives them a much broader experience.”

The Orchestra of Northern New York will be on the move when it stages the concert of holiday favorites Friday in Watertown; Dec. 15 in Massena and Dec. 16 in Potsdam.

Approximately 200 students from high school select choirs in the Watertown, Potsdam, Canton, St. Lawrence Central, Massena and Thousand Islands Central school districts will share the stage with the orchestra.

“As we highlight our 25th anniversary, we’ve been trying to bring in events that spotlight the many aspects of what this organization’s mission is for the region,” said Kenneth B. Andrews, the orchestra’s music director and founder.

In October, the orchestra’s presentation of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony demonstrated how the orchestra has grown. It also highlighted its partnership with local musicians in its collaboration with Northern Choral Society and Potsdam Community Chorus.

“A Holiday Celebration” will showcase the orchestra’s focus on youth. For example, each year, it hosts the James and Katherine Andrews Young Artist Instrumental Competition, with winners featured in a spring ONNY concert.

Mrs. Ingerson went to high school on Long Island, where she said students could benefit from a variety of musical resources.

“We did a concert every year with a professional symphony orchestra like this,” the SUNY Potsdam Crane School of Music graduate said. “When I came to the north country and started teaching up here, it was my dream to have that experience for my kids here. When I got the call from Kenneth Andrews, I jumped at it. It’s something they’ll never forget.”

Mr. Andrews noted this won’t be the first time the orchestra has used the talents of local high school singers in its concerts.

“The orchestra likes to, as often as we can, have concerts that involve young musicians,” he said.

The Dec. 15 Massena concert will feature the Massena High School Mixed Choir, directed by Christopher Lincoln, the district’s music director. The five other choirs will take part in the Watertown and Potsdam concerts.

The student singers will be featured in the second half of the concerts that will include such songs as “Halleujah” chorus from Handel’s “Messiah,”; “Dona Nobis Pacem” (“Grant Us Peace”), arranged by SUNY Potsdam professor emeritus Arthur Frackenpohl, and “The Many Moods of Christmas,” which is a montage of well-known carols arranged by Robert R. Bennett.

The first half of the concert will feature excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker Ballet,” Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas,” and Leroy Anderson’s “A Christmas Festival,” an arrangement of eight traditional carols.

Children will be invited on stage to try their hands on sleigh bells for the song “Sleigh Ride” in the first half of the concert.

“They are given a quick lesson on how to do it in time,” Mr. Andrews said.

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The Massena concert was organized by Massena Music Friends as a fundraiser with the sponsorship of more than a dozen local businesses to support the Massena Central School District’s music program.

“For the Watertown concert, we’re very thankful for the Northern New York Community Foundation and to Watertown Savings Bank for their generous donations,” Mr. Andrews said.

He thanked the New York State Council on the Arts for the Potsdam concert.

The details
WHAT: The Orchestra of Northern New York presents “A Holiday Celebration” featuring high school select choirs
WHEN: There are three concerts: 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Dulles State office Building, 317 Washington St.; 7:30 p.m. Dec. 15 at Massena Central High School, 84 Nightengale Ave., and 3 p.m. Dec. 16 at SUNY Potsdam’s Helen M. Hosmer Concert Hall.
Further details:
• Tickets to the Watertown and Potsdam concerts are $22 for adults, $20 for senior citizens, $10 for students age 13 and up and free for children 12 and younger.
• Tickets to the Massena concert are $18 for adults, $15 for senior citizens and students age 12 and up and free for children age 12 and younger.
• For the Massena concert, advance tickets can be purchased through the Community Performance Series website link at
• For the Watertown and Potsdam concerts, advance tickets can be purchased through the ONNY website at
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