Symphoria Prepares New and Familiar Arrangements for This Year's Holiday Pops Concerts

Dec 13, 2017

Sean O'Loughlin
Credit / Symphoria

Musicians, singers, and dancers will once again fill the stage at the civic center this weekend for Symphoria’s Holiday Pops concerts. The symphony’s principal pops conductor described what’s new and how the program comes together. 

Sean O’Loughlin says he spent a week back in September crafting an arrangement that won’t be heard anywhere else.

 “Symphoria is playing music literally, this holiday season, that it’s the only place that you’ll hear it, including a new opening overture that I wrote called Holiday Wonder which captures the theme of our concerts.”

The orchestra performed the piece for the very first time during a rehearsal at West Genesee High School.

 “There is a little bit of, like, ‘Is it gonna work?’  I’m fairly certain, when I create these things what they’re going to sound like, but there’s always that sense of wonder when it comes to life. And that’s one of the biggest challenges, is trying to make unfamiliar music sound familiar with such short rehearsal and prep time.”

O’Loughlin says it’s cathartic to hear all the different parts come together. He says he tries to write and arrange music to feature the talents of the Syracuse Pops and Syracuse Children’s choruses, and in a way that shows off the skill and artistry of the musicians.  

 “For me I feel like that five year old kid on Christmas morning waiting to see what Santa brought. And that’s how I treat these holiday pops concerts because, if you look at this holiday tradition through a child’s eyes, there is a wonder. There is a magic to that.” 

Symphoria at Cortland's United Presbyterian Church.
Credit Symphoriacny instagram / Symphoria

He says some of that magic comes through in the variety of music.

 “You want to have some retrospectives. It’s not all big, flashy bells ringing, and cymbals crashing, and brass flaring, but it’s a solemn festival as well, both on the Chanukah side of things and the Christian side. So you’re melding all the different religions and the sacred and secular and making it into an extravaganza for everyone.”

Symphoria is presenting three performances of Holiday Pops Friday and Saturday.  Tickets are still available, though limited for the Saturday evening concert. Information is at