Concert Review: THE BEST CHRISTMAS OF ALL WITH NORM LEWIS (The New York Pops at Carnegie Hall)

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by Paulanne Simmons on December 23, 2023

in Concerts / Events,Theater-New York

When Norm Lewis joins forces with The New York Pops and Essential Voices USA for a night of seasonal celebration, you know you’re in for a treat. Indeed The Best Christmas of All with Norm Lewis did not disappoint.

On Dec. 23, the stage at Carnegie Hall was decked with a huge holiday wreath and the seats were filled with an eager and expectant audience when conductor Steven Reineke led the orchestra in the opening number, John Williams’ “Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas,” from Home Alone.

The rest of the evening overflowed with many traditional favorites. In homage to his “vocal hero” Johnny Mathis, Lewis sang a moving rendition of “Silver Bells.” And his medley of “Ave Maria” and “Holy Night” was stunning. With 14-year-old Jonathan Logan on the djembe, Lewis and the choir sang “The Little Drummer Boy.” The orchestra played a joyous “Winter Wonderland. And everyone had fun with “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

But there were also a few surprises.

Lewis introduced an Upper West Side minister of music, Bobby Lewis, whom he had long admired before finding out they were cousins; and the two joined with the choir in a rousing and rhythmic version of “Go Tell It on the Mountain” that ended with a standing ovation.

Music director and conductor Judith Clurman led the orchestra in “Chanukah Joy and Peace,” her own creation, and the evening’s one nod to our nation’s religious diversity.

The orchestra played Mykola Leontovich’s gorgeous “Carol of the Bells” “to show our solidarity for the people of Ukraine.”

But the biggest surprise of the evening was when President Biden’s press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, took the stage to read Clement Clarke Moore’s “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” first published exactly 200 years ago. Backed by the exceptional New York Pops, Jean-Pierre did a commendable job.

Hopefully, many in the audience left Carnegie Hall with Jerry Herman’s words echoing in their mind: “As long as we love one another, we’ll have the best Christmas of all.”

photos by Richard Termine

The New York Pops
The Best Christmas of All with Norm Lewis
Carnegie Hall, 881 Seventh Ave.
played December 22 and 23, 2023

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Linda Grebanier December 25, 2023 at 12:15 pm

I went to the rehearsal and found the experience very uplifting. In fact I was bopping to the duet between Norm Lewis and his cousin Pastor Bob Lewis. Reading this detailed review of the evening concert I regret not going to that concert in the evening.Best , Linda Grebanier


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