For the seventh year in a row the Santa Barbara Choral Society is bringing its family-friendly Hallelujah Project concert to The Lobero Theatre, further cementing itself as the community holiday tradition that its creators always wanted it to be. Named after the “Hallelujah Chorus” from composer George Frideric Handel’s “Messiah,” the Hallelujah Project will consist of a pair of shows on December 14 and 15, featuring SBCS singers performing alongside its orchestra and a children’s choir through a program narrated by former “The Bachelor” star Andrew Firestone. As they play through festive carols from different countries, holiday movie music, and classical pieces, the musicians and singers will be led by conductor Jo Anne Wasserman.
While the show is structured around a particular formula that remains the same, Ms. Wasserman told the News-Press that the musical content therein changes every year. Music featured in this year’s concert include carols by living composers such as Shawn Kirchner and Mack Wilberg, John Williams’ “Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas” from the 1992 film “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York,” Hanukkah songs, and the classical piece “Magnificat” by Franz Schubert. Each year the concert features a single classical piece, and Ms. Wasserman thought the joyous sounds of “Magnificat” would fit perfectly in with the overall tone of the evening.
“It’s joyful and very uplifting,” she said.
The concert’s final song, a slight variation on “The 12 Days of Christmas” called “The 12 Gifts of Christmas,” will feature vocal solos by Choral Society section leaders Hailey Atwell, Naomi Merer, James Kirkland, Steven Thompson, and Kim Collins.
Each year’s concert fits its musical content into a framework where a celebrity narrator reads the poem “The Night Before Christmas” to a group of children gathered on the floor. This year, the honor goes to Andrew Firestone, the third bachelor on the ABC reality show “The Bachelor.” Past years’ narrators include actresses Angela Cartwright and Shirley Jones.
“We look forward to working with them every year and certainly the audience enjoys that,” Ms. Wasserman said of the narrators.
Not only is the narrator format in which the music fits is a tradition, but the song for which the concert is named is too. Though the SBCS has done a Christmas-themed concert annually for decades, seven years ago its venue changed to The Lobero Theatre and Ms. Wasserman decided to change the show’s format with it. Particularly, she wanted to make the concert one that would include the community by having the choral society’s singers and orchestra do a joint performance with a children’s choir. Around this time, the SBCS had performed the Handel piece and ultimately decided the name of its most famous section was a perfect one for the holiday concert.
“It was named the Hallelujah Project because the Choral Society did a version of the ‘Hallelujah Chorus,’” Ms. Wasserman recalled.
From the outset, the Choral Society aimed to make this iteration of its holiday concert one that the Santa Barbara families would attend for years as a way to get into the holiday spirit. As Ms. Wasserman has noticed audiences growing with each year’s shows, the conductor believes it has achieved that goal.
“It seems to have become the community concert that we envisioned from the beginning,” she said.Tickets for the Hallelujah Project can be purchased online at www.lobero.org. The December 14 performance will begin at 7:30 p.m., and the December 15 performance at 3:00 p.m. The Lobero Theatre is located at 33 E Canon Perdido St.