The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) has published a review of The Cleveland Orchestra's 2016 Christmas Concerts, led by associate conductor Brett Mitchell:
Gone away, for now, are certain old traditions. Here to stay, this season, are a few new ones.
Yes, the Cleveland Orchestra's 2016 Christmas Concerts stand apart from those of yore. With associate conductor Brett Mitchell on the podium in lieu of choral director Robert Porco, the program now running exudes a decidedly jaunty, lighthearted air....
Mitchell, for certain, proves an able and amusing host. Between numbers he offers not only interesting musical trivia but also a ready supply of jokes. He also engages Santa in witty banter and presides over the solo singings of "Five Gold Rings" with Porco-like aplomb, being kind to children but slaying an adult rendition with "That's terrible!"
No qualms about the professional singing or playing. At last Saturday's matinee concert, the combined Cleveland Orchestra Chorus and University of Akron Chamber Choir sounded lovely, especially in a poignant performance of "Oh, Holy Night" and the encore singing of "Silent Night." The orchestra, too, was in fine form throughout, hitting its stride right off the bat in James Beckel's sparkling "A Christmas Fanfare." ...
Perhaps the nicest twist was the involvement of Santa in concert. After teasing Mitchell about his youth and delivering a few zingers about the Browns and the election, the actor turned around Saturday and narrated "Twas the Night Before Christmas," joining the orchestra in a welcome and animated telling of his own story.
To read the complete review, please click here.