Joel Rosenberg

Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker" is a must for any holiday program, including the one that the Orchestra and Chorus of Sandy City performs each year.

There really is no need to justify programming Tchaikovsky's beloved music, but Joel Rosenberg, the OCSC music director, has decided to do something a little different with it at this year's concerts, which take place on Friday and Saturday in Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Sandy, and on Dec. 6 in Libby Gardner Concert Hall.

"What we're doing this year is quite unique," he told the Deseret Morning News. "We're having a puppeteer join us for excerpts from 'The Nutcracker."'

Fred Spencer, who was a puppeteer in Hollywood before moving to Park City, builds marionettes and performs with them. Rosenberg thought it would be fun to add Spencer to the orchestra's annual holiday concerts. "I contacted him and asked if he would be interested in joining us." He agreed, and together they decided on using the puppets in the excerpts from "The Nutcracker."

"I think it will be fun for the children and for their parents," Rosenberg said.

The puppets will be on display from 7-7:30 p.m. prior to each concert. "Everyone will be able to get a close-up view of them at that time."

Spencer won't be the only guest at the concerts, however. Soprano Clara Hurtado will sing two excerpts from Mozart's early "Regina Coeli," K. 108: the "Ave Maria" and "Allelujah."

The Heralders Chorus will also be featured. They'll sing the Sandman Chorus from Humperdinck's opera "Hansel and Gretel," the "Rejoice O Judah" and the Amen Chorus from Handel's oratorio "Judas Maccabeaus," and a movement from Vivaldi's Gloria.

Rosenberg said he wants to include pieces that aren't typically associated with Christmas, or even necessarily familiar to concertgoers. "I'm trying to introduce some new music for the holiday season. We're offering music that's not expected, but I think the combination of music we're playing will be attractive to families."

Among the lesser-known works on the program is the Ave Maria by the early baroque composer Giulio Caccini, in an arrangement for viola and orchestra, and the "Sleigh Ride" from Prokofiev's score to the film "Lt. Kije."

Rounding out the concert is Corelli's "Christmas Concerto," three choruses from Handel's ubiquitous holiday favorite "Messiah" and a medley of Christmas carols.

If you go

What: Orchestra and Chorus of Sandy City; Joel Rosenberg, conductor

Where: Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 700 East at 8600 South, Sandy

When: Friday and Saturday, 8 p.m.

How much: $12 general admission, $7 senior citizens and students

Also: Dec. 6, 8 p.m., Libby Gardner Concert Hall, University of Utah, $7-$12

E-mail: [email protected]