Holiday Organ Music Overtakes The Pacific Symphony

Todd Wilson

Organist, Todd Wilson, brings in the holiday spirit Dec. 17 at Pacific Symphony
Photo by: Sam Hubish

Majestic sounds of the William J. Gillespie Concert Organ will fill the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall with the nostalgia of holiday classics during Pacific Symphony’s annual “Holiday Organ Spectacular,” for one night only on Tues, Dec. 17 at 7:30 p.m. This annual holiday concert is part of the Pedals and Pipes series. This holiday concert takes place for one night only.

The evening ignites with the talent of virtuoso organist Todd Wilson, Broadway soprano Lisa Vroman and accompanying Symphony principal musicians: Timothy Landauer, cello; Benjamin Smolen, flute; Barry Perkins, trumpet; and Mindy Ball, harp.

“I was asked to perform in last years organ concert and really enjoyed it,” said principal flutist, Benjamin Smolen. “The center of every piece is the organ with each piece adding a different combination of instruments and gives a solo to each player. You really get to know more of the orchestra through this performance.”

This is Wilson’s fourth year visiting the Symphony and playing the holiday spectacular. Wilson is head of the organ department at The Cleveland Institute of Music and curator of the E.M. Skinner pipe organ at Severance Hall. Bach, Widor, Carter and Purvis also know him for performing organ works.

The program features treasured Christmas songs like, “The First Noel,” “Ave Maria,” “O Holy Night,” “The Little Drummer Boy” along with many more Christmas classics.

“There are some well-known carols the audience will recognize right away and some they are not so familiar with,” said Smolen. “We are all facing the audience so we get to see the faces of everyone as they sing along to the classic songs and experience ones they may not know as well. We all feel more apart of the music together this way.”

Every year, the audience is encouraged to join in a singing along to the more popular holiday favorites including “Deck the Halls,” “Angels We Have Heard on High,” “Silent Night” and “Joy to the World.” Symphony musicians and Vroman guide the audience in an acoustic display of holiday fun.

Wilson has performed in major cities throughout the United States, Europe and Japan, including concerts at Symphony Hall in Birmingham, U.K., Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, Orchestra Hall in Chicago, Severance Hall in Cleveland, Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas and Uihlein Hall in Milwaukee. His latest CDs on the JAV label feature a live recital of American music from the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., and “Live from Severence Hall,” a concert of music for trumpet and organ.

Establishing herself as one of America’s most versatile voices, Vroman garnered Theatre Critic’s awards for her Broadway role as Christine Daae in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera” during a record-breaking run in San Francisco, and she also had a return engagement at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles.

In 2008, Vroman made her Carnegie Hall debut with the New York Pops, starred as Lili Vanessi in “Kiss Me Kate” with Glimmerglass Opera, sang the role of Birdie in “Regina” with Utah Opera, made her New Jersey Opera debut as Rosalinda in “Die Fledermaus,” and premiered two comic operas by composers John Musto and William Bolcom with the New York Festival of Song. She is a frequent guest soloist with major theatre and opera companies as well as many orchestras.

“I really think this is a great mix of music for the holiday season,” said Smolen. “The mix of instrumental solos with the organ and the audience participation makes for a beautiful night of holiday joy and music.”

For more information or to purchase tickets that range between $15-$75, call (714) 755-5799 or visit