Nothing says “holiday” like the Houston Symphony tradition of Very Merry Pops! This year, on December 15, 17, and 18, Broadway star N’Kenge joins the Symphony, Chorus, and creator of Very Merry Pops and former Houston Symphony Principal POPS conductor Michael Krajewski. We caught up with Conductor Krajewski to give you a sneak peek inside this beloved holiday concert.
Houston Symphony (HS): What is the history behind the show, and what was the creation process like?
Michael Krajewski (MK): I began conducting the Houston Symphony holiday concerts in 2000. I called that first program “Very Merry Pops” because I wanted a title that would denote a spirited and uplifting holiday musical experience. I’m proud to say it’s been called this ever since, and the concerts have become a Houston holiday tradition for thousands of people.
HS: Are there any particular past performances of Very Merry Pops that stand out to you? Why?
MK: I was particularly proud of performances several years ago that featured a selection called “Glad Tidings,” which was commissioned by the Houston Symphony. The piece is for narrator, chorus, and orchestra. It tells the story of the first Christmas through spoken words and familiar carols. We ended up recording the piece and were honored to have George H.W. Bush as the narrator.
HS: What is your favorite part about Very Merry Pops?
MK: I love that we’re fortunate to have the Houston Symphony Chorus join us every year for these concerts. The chorus adds extra richness and enthusiasm to the festivities.
HS: Are there any special surprises or musical nods audiences can look forward to experiencing at this year’s performance?
MK: Rumor has it that Santa might make a surprise visit during this year’s performance.
HS: Do you have a favorite holiday song or piece to conduct and/or listen to? Why is it your favorite?
MK: I happen to really like the Christmas song “Do You Hear What I Hear?” It’s a simple, straightforward song that builds to a mighty climax with a powerful message.
HS: Do you have any holiday traditions that include music aside from conducting?
MK: I live in Orlando and go to Disneyworld every year during the holiday season. It’s a great place to hear holiday music performed in various venues all day long.
Join Michael Krajewski, N’Kenge, the Symphony, and Chorus on December 15, 17, and 18 for a heartwarming concert brimming with traditional carols, festive favorites, and plenty of yuletide cheer. Tickets are selling fast!