HOLIDAY SUPERSTARS Join Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra December 12th

The SBSO Colors the Artistry of Three Highly Acclaimed Vocalists & Songwriters

    Additional Reporting by
    icon Nov 22, 2023
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The Christmas season will resonate and sparkle with a special luster on Tuesday, December 12th, as the Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra continues its 20-year tradition of Holiday Pops by bringing together three of the Great Lakes Bay Region’s most gifted vocalists and engaging songwriters in an unforgettable collaborative musical celebration titled Holiday Super Stars, showcasing the formidable talents of award-winning artists Amy Petty, Todd Michael Hall, and the incomparable Sharrie Williams.

Under the direction of Maestro Fouad Fakhouri, the 60-piece orchestra will join these three gifted musical forces in an unforgettable musical alliance that will mix traditional holiday classics together with non-holiday songs reflecting the spirit of the season, along with original compositions written by each featured artist that have been charted and orchestrated for this once-in-a-lifetime collaborative celebration.

“Each of these guest artists are wonderful Saginaw talents the orchestra has performed with separately previously, but have never featured together in one concert,” explains Fakhouri. “People want to be entertained and feel good over the holidays, so basically we have two different portions to the show. In the first portion we’ll perform the traditional pops selections audiences are familiar with, along with a couple classical selections from Tchaikovsky’s ‘Nutcracker’ and pieces not holiday related, but tying in with the spirit of the season that audiences will recognize from popular music, which will culminate with all three singing Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven.

“And then with the second portion, we’ll be showcasing original compositions from our guest artists that have been arranged to be performed with the orchestra,” he continues, “which is the biggest challenge of this concert.  When you bring in artists on the pop side performing their own material, typically there is no musical orchestrations, so fortunately we were lucky to enlist Nathan Bieber, who was in Spain last summer for four or five months studying scoring for film and was glad to assist us with transcribing the orchestral charts on several of these pieces.”

“For the three rock songs we’ll be performing, we will also have a rock band performing with the orchestra as well, concludes Fakhouri, “I encourage people to attend this remarkable concert because it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

While Sharrie Williams was off performing in France on an extended European tour, both Amy Petty and Todd Michael Hall were eager to share thoughts about the experience of having their compositions orchestrated and the excitement of performing with the Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra. 

“I released a song on a Christmas album years ago called I Saw Three Ships, that was super-stripped down and an obscure old Christmas song,” explains Petty. “A lot of people don’t know it, but when I was  younger, I did a lot o choral work and would sing in the choir every Christmas. I did my own arrangement of this song on acoustic guitar and added a bagpipe, but thought it could be orchestrated. I sent the song over to the Maestro and he encouraged me to perform it, so I added some strings, flutes, and orchestrations to develop it.”

“I did my own orchestration on this one,” continues Amy, “because I was fortunate to work with a composer for years who would do these huge shows at Carnegie Hall and have artists like Sarah McLachlan and The Corrs send over songs that weren’t orchestrated, so I would write the charts for when they performed at Carnegie Hall. I’ve been doing orchestrations for years and while it’s the nerdiest musical thing I do, I absolutely love it!”

When asked what it’s like singing and collaborating with Todd and Sharrie, Amy notes how the experience has been “outside the traditional”.   “I’ve not yet met Sharrie  because she’s been performing in France out there doing her thing, which is so rock ’n’ roll!”  She has an iconic voice and I love her energy and spirit, so can’t wait to work with her. Todd and I did a little thing together a few months ago, and I love his professionalism. He’s kind of a gatherer of people and a stickler for details and wants everything to be just right, which I also love about him.”

“These types of crossover concerts are my favorite things to do,” concludes Amy. “When I moved to this region the last thing I thought would be available is an endless supply of incredible musicians, so I’m really excited.”

As for Todd Michael Hall, who catapulted to national attention when he sang his way up to the final round of ‘The Voice’ back in 2020, he’s equally excited about performing with the SBSO and sharing the stage with a pair of equally unique voices. “I had a lot of fun performing with the SBSO two years ago and am looking forward to the three of us sharing the stage and interacting together,” he reflects.

“Obviously, I am quite used to playing live with a loud rock and roll band, so performing with the SBSO, while equally exhilarating, has a much different feel for me. It is amazing how talented all the orchestra players are, because they can receive the sheet music and be ready to perform live after one rehearsal. I’m sure they do some preparing in advance, but it is still an awesome thing to witness.”

“The holiday pops concert is interesting, because we get into some music that people would not normally associate with an orchestra. It is fascinating to hear how the arrangers use all the various instruments to make the songs come to life.”

“One of the songs we are performing is my song, “I Wish Every Day Were Christmas”, which I wrote and released back in December of 2020. The song came to me as lyrics and melodies and I developed the chord progressions for it. For the recording, I had my friend and fellow musician, Francisco Palomo, record a beautiful piano line along with light orchestration. For the SBSO performance, Catherine McMichael has arranged the song based on my recording, but she is involving many more instruments, since she has an entire orchestra at her disposal.”

“My song was leaning toward orchestral to begin with, so the transformation is not that great, but for the other pop rock songs we are performing, the transformation is much greater. Hearing a Led Zeppelin song come to life with an orchestra is amazing.”

“Since my main band, Riot V, is based out of New York, I don’t get a chance to play in the area that often, which makes this performance with SBSO all the more special. I am really looking forward to it!”

Holiday Superstars with the Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra, Amy Petty, Sharrie Williams, and Todd Michel Hall will be happening Tuesday, December 12th at 8:00 PM at Saginaw Temple Theatre. Ticket prices range from $14.00, $37.00, $50.00, and $80.00 and are available by visiting 




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