A Snowman without a magic top hat

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There is a fundamental problem with the Christmas season starting the day after Halloween. The holiday season is too drawn out and it seems as if the sterile, Coca-Cola version of Christmas never changes from year to year. When the halls have all been decked and the bells have grown tired of jingling, it is time for some modifications to tradition. Rosemary Thomson, conductor of the Calgary Civic Symphony, hopes to shake things up this holiday season with the orchestra's Christmas concert.

"I was looking for a Christmas program with something different," says Thomson. "You can sort of get the same old material every year."

Thomson's programming this year is far from perfunctory, including the music to The Snowman, which was composed by Howard Blake. The Snowman was originally a book written by Raymond Briggs about a young boy who builds a snowman that comes to life, and the CCS's musical take on the story promises to add a new dimension to the classic story.

"I think it is really charming," explains Thomson. "Both the story and the music. It's sort of from a world and an era gone by."

In the CCS's miniature production of The Snowman, 10-year-old soprano Graeme Climie is the star of the show and the story is being narrated by former CTV news anchor Brenda Finley. Finley has especially taken to her role quite well, according to Thomson.

"[Finley] is fantastic on stage," beams Thomson. "She's really animated and has grabbed the text so beautifully."

Thomson is justifiably thrilled about performing The Snowman and equally excited about the other interesting repertoire she has selected to perform. One of these pieces is the exuberant Die Fledermaus Overture by Richard Strauss, and another is the first movement of Winter Poems by Canadian composer Glenn Buhr.

"It's a piece that just sparkles," says Thomson. "It just sort of sets up that magical night with the moon glinting on the snow. That's the kind of image that I get."

Though both pieces are conducive to the concert, The Snowman and Winter Poems are only part of the first half. For the second half of the concert, the Westwinds Chorus and the Rocky Mountain College Choir will join the orchestra. Thomson believes this diversity is a big part of the reason why people should attend.

"It's going to be quite an eclectic afternoon," says Thomson. "There is something for everyone. I think there's going to be some really stellar performances, and it's a lovely way to beat the shopping bustle."

Together, Rosemary Thomson and the Calgary Civic Symphony have assembled a terrific Christmas program for their upcoming concert. At the very least, it'll be a refreshing change from the 12th pop-star cover of "Let it snow" playing on every radio station in the city.