Christmas Concert exhibits perfect harmony, jazzy flair
By Lana Sweeten-Shults Times Record News
The Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra went for a kinder, gentler, jazzier concert Saturday night at Memorial Auditorium. The orchestra broke away from its traditional “A Family-Style Christmas,” a bigger, more boisterous kind of concert, complete with choirs, choirs, choirs and an ensemble or two, for Saturday’s “A Living Christmas Card.” The concert, under the direction of conductor Candler Schaffer, spotlighted pops jazz quartet In Full Swing, which comes from the Manhattan Transfer school of smooth-as-butter, wow! harmonies.
In Full Swing, made up of Sheri and Craig Marshall and Rosana and Gary Eckert, deliver honeyed, silky, masterfully interwoven harmonies that you don’t really fully appreciate until the quartet goes a cappella, which it did a few songs before intermission. Their “The Christmas Song” (“Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire”) and “White Christmas” are vocal jewels. Talk about right-on harmony work. Beyond their dreamy a cappella renditions of Christmas favorites, the quartet sprinkles in some crowdpleasing spice and did so with the very funny “Jingle Bells” — funny because of all the vocal, scat-like acrobatics. They also throw in the hilarious “Deck the Halls,” in which the quartet claims the show is running a little long and so they have to cut an eighth note out here and there. So this version of “Deck the Halls” is a rhythmic vocal tango that keeps the audience on its toes. And the 20-minute “Scenes of Christmas,” the concert-closer that barrels through traditional favorites like “Winter Wonderland,” “Silver Bells” and “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” brings all those flavors of Christmas home.