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SCHNECTADY – After last year’s hiatus, the Empire State Youth Orchestra is back with this...

SCHNECTADY – After last year’s hiatus, the Empire State Youth Orchestra is back with this year’s holiday event, “Sleigh Ride” on Dec. 19. This program will be in lieu of their traditional “Melodies of Christmas” program in collaboration with CBS 6 at Proctors theater.
Written by local children’s author, Vicki Addesso Dodd, “Sleigh Ride” follows Santa Claus’ journey through song. The orchestra will be accompanied by local singer and American Idol finalist, Madison VanDenburg.

According to Dodd, when orchestra director Rebecca Calos first reached out, she was delighted to participate.
“She gave me their music that they were going to be playing,” she said. “And when I listened to it, it was beautiful. The music ran into each other, I just had to create the illusion of the story.”

Dodd went on to explain that “Sleigh Ride” is not a musical per se, but more like a musically told story.
“What I’ve written is a story,” she said. “A story between the musical pieces. So it’s not going to be a song; it’ll be read by an actor. And the story will be told between each musical piece. It’s about a magical sleigh ride across the world from different countries. And then finding your way home.”

The musicians are excited to be back on stage and to be performing something new. Georgia Burtt, a violinist for ESYO, said she is looking forward to it.

“In past years, we had certain pieces that we played every year,” she said. “But because this is no longer “Melodies of Christmas” (for this year), it’s very different music. And we have a new conductor coming in. We had a guest conductor for the first half of every season. But unfortunately, he couldn’t do this concert. So, we had Helen Cha-Pyo come back, who was here in the past as a music director. So it’s awesome working with her.
“We only get, like, four rehearsals, which is kind of crazy. But it’s sounding really good.”
Burtt’s feelings are echoed by her co-musician, Benjamin Halpin, an orchestra flautist, who is excited about being back on the stage.
“You really get perspective about how much we value this kind of thing when we were stuck without it for so long,” he said. “And it’s a ton of fun practicing in-person on the stage. Virtual experiences are great and all but having a real person and having it done safely is fantastic feeling. It’s really exciting.”

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“Sleigh Ride”
When: 3 p.m., Dec. 19Where: Proctors Theater, Schenectady Tickets: Priced at $25, can be purchased at the Proctors Box Office at 518-346-6204  

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