Hartford Symphony Orchestra's St. Patrick's Day Celebration regales ears with classic Celtic tunes commemorating the feast of Ireland's patron saint. Visiting from his usual perch at the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra, conductor Gerald Steichen leads an army of instruments as it elevates the shimmering tenor of veteran singer Robert White, who has been nourishing auditory synapses since his radio debut in 1948. White fills listeners with Irish pride until they burst with clover leaves by belting out such distinctly Hibernian tunes as "Danny Boy," a slow, anthemic composition that resonates in the hearts of Irish emigrants. Renowned Irish fiddler Jeanne Freeman also fuels high-octane jigs with skills gleaned from County Donegal native P.V. O'Donnell.
Backed by the 60-piece human melody machine of the Johann Strauss Orchestra, conductor and violinist André Rieu enchants audiences with an evening of swooning in seats and dancing in the aisles. A violinist since the age of 5, André radiates his lifelong love of classical music to the audience with celebratory renditions of beloved pieces. As Rieu interacts with the audience, the air fills with kaleidoscopic balloons, lilting tenors and sopranos, and special surprises, which may include a John Philip Sousa séance or an explosion of confetti fired from tubas.
An accomplished trio of jazz artists kindles the Christmas spirit during a concert that features music from Vince Guaraldi's Peanuts holiday specials set to a storyline inspired by 1940s radio shows. After a disturbing news flash informs the audience that the Christmas spirit has been lost, musicians try to save the day by playing favorite carols, such as "O Tannenbaum" and "Greensleeves." Noted for nimble piano keystrokes, fresh arrangements of classics, and the unusual use of live roosters instead of trumpets, Guaraldi's catalog evokes simple, nostalgic memories of Christmases past. Jazz notes reverberate through the 400-seat Kathleen McManus Picotte Recital Hall, which traps the outgoing giggles of a tickled Steinway piano with Peter D'Antonio–designed acoustic panels and 380-pound doors. After the concert, families can relish their feelings of good cheer at a reception of milk, cookies, and mistletoe salad.