Christmas music par excellence as HSV welcomes the ASO

By SANDY JOHANSENStaff writer
A sold-out, 650-seat Hot Springs Village Woodlands audience greeted the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra for its annual Christmas concert. Her favorite roles include: Laurey in “Oklahoma!”, Kathy in “Singin’ in the Rain,” Maggie in “A Chorus Line” and Louisa in “The Fantasticks.” Bell’s coloratura soprano execution of her music was exceptional and a fitting tribute to the season.Mann’s direction is precise and wonderfully entertaining. Following Laskarov’s awesome interpretation, the audience rose with applause and cheers.The Hot Springs Village Chorale joined the ASO for two selections. in music from Florida State University. The ASO’s opening number, “Christmas Festival,” was a beautifully orchestrated mixture of favorite holiday melodies. Maestro Philip Mann said, “I’ve probably told you this before, but you really are my favorite audience and I want to thank all of you and the Hot Springs/Hot Springs Village Symphony Guild for your wonderful support.” .Mann introduced the evening’s soloist, soprano Jennifer Molly Bell, who sang three numbers on the program. Bell has a B.A. In his fifth season as music director of the ASO, Mann has provided energy and renewed health to the symphony.Classic music by Bach and Rimsky-Korsakov was presented, and a Vivaldi violin solo, “Allegro non molto,” better known as “Winter” from “The Four Seasons,” was expertly executed by Kiril Laskarov, concertmaster. Under the direction of Ellen Nagode, the Chorale performs in several concerts during the year, including one at Garvan Gardens chapel, their own at the Woodlands and another in spring.Following an audience sing-along with the ASO, a standing ovation brought down the house with the orchestra’s rendition of the ever-popular “Sleigh Ride.” The Chorale is known for its zealous and committed recitals. He is gaining a worldwide reputation as an “expressively graceful yet passionate” artist. An actress based in New York City, Bell has performed in many regional theaters.