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Charitable Caroling

A full bill for the annual Holiday Pops concert.

The Fairfax Symphony Orchestra's annual Holiday Pops concert has all of the ingredients for a seasonal celebration — holiday carols, a guest appearance from WJLA-TV's meteorologist Doug Hill and a visit from Santa Claus. But more than just singing, celebrities and Santa, the Fairfax Symphony has added a new item to the bill. Joining with the Fairfax County Office of Partnerships, the symphony is attempting to raise goods such as books and scarves for area children.

"Earlier this year we really took a look at our contribution to the community," said Catherine Smith, marketing director for the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra. "We wanted to deepen that involvement. People do a lot of things with 'Toys for Tots' so we contacted the Office of Partnerships. They said that there were many needs but there were some fundamental needs for kids that get lost from the list."

According to Emily Bryant, executive director of the Fairfax County Office of Partnerships, around 8 percent of county households have a medium income less than $25,000. Additionally, around five percent spend at least 50 percent of their income on housing alone. The types of donations asked of "Holiday Pops" audience members will help ease some of the stress for families providing for their children. Recommended items include books, scarves, hats and gloves or mittens.

"Just imagine the impact if everyone brought something for the kids," said Smith.

CONCERT GOERS can expect to see an evening of holiday events as the show takes place on Saturday, Dec. 9, 7 p.m. at George Mason University's Center for the Arts. Combining with Fairfax Choral Society, the symphony's director Maestro William Hudson and the choral society's director Dr. Douglas Mears will share the conductor's position as the groups feature traditional music such as Handel's "Messiah," "Carol of the Bells" and selections from Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker." As a special addition, Doug Hill will take a break from predicting the weather to guest conduct the orchestra and audience in a sing-a-long of Leroy Anderson's "Sleigh Ride," the popular holiday tune written in 1948.

"Doug Hill is going to make his conducting debut," said Smith. "He is very excited about it."

In between weather broadcasts, Hill said he was looking forward to the event — if not also feeling slightly apprehensive.

"I've done a lot of emceeing and I enjoy it so I am definitely looking forward to it," said Hill. "I'm taking it as seriously as I can. Obviously my goal is for it to not look as embarrassing as possible."

"I can read music but have never conducted," he continued. "I'm taking it on faith that I can do what I want with the baton and they can keep playing."

IN TOTAL, the event will feature roughly 135 singers, including a children's chorus, a handbell choir, and the symphony. Smith believes that this year's show will be a success for both the symphony and the charity partnership.

"This concert should be a sell-out," she said. "We have a lot of draws including Santa, the partnership and Doug Hill."

—Christopher Staten