Holiday Favorites at GMU

Holiday Favorites at GMU

American Festival Pops Orchestra to present “Holiday Pops: Songs of the Season.”

Anthony Maiello conducting the American Festival Pops Orchestra.

Anthony Maiello conducting the American Festival Pops Orchestra. Photo by Stan Engebretson/Courtesy of GMU

Under the direction of founder and artistic director Anthony Maiello, Northern Virginia’s very own 60-member American Festival Pops Orchestra (AFPO) will soon be performing a sparkling musical celebration befitting the Holiday Season at the Mason Center for the Arts.

Where and When

American Festival Pops Orchestra at George Mason University Center for the Arts, 4400 University Drive, Fairfax, 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012. Tickets: $24, $40 and $48. Family Friendly: youth through grade 12 half price when accompanied by an adult. Call 888-945-2468 or visit Note: A pre-performance discussion, free to ticketholders, will begin 45 minutes prior to the performance and is sponsored by the Friends of the Center for the Arts.

In its distinctive manner the AFPO will perform holiday favorites including treasures such as Leroy Anderson's "Sleigh Ride," the English Christmas carol “The Holly and the Ivy,” and the ever-popular “Jingle Bell Rock.” The Clement Moore classic poem "T'was the Night Before Christmas,” will feature narration by Rick Davis, professor of theater at Mason.

There will also be a medley of festive songs by the US Navy Boogie Woogie singers in the bouncy style of The Andrews Sisters. The concert will culminate with an audience sing-along of cherished Christmas carols.

For Anthony Maiello the AFPO is "the people's orchestra" and he wants to play music the audience will enjoy. Maiello likes to interact with the audience so as "to draw them further into the performance." This will not be just a sit-and-listen-type event. The audience is "part of the event and key" to the magic of the evening of "gorgeous, inspirational and fun music.”

Maiello indicated that the AFPO is especially proud of the exceptional quality of its musicians and repertoire. Many come from the military bands located in the D.C. area as well as members of the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra and other fine regional symphonies and ensembles. The AFPO also includes George Mason University music faculty and a select number of talented young musicians from George Mason University’s School of Music.


Anthony Maiello conducting the American Festival Pops Orchestra.

Maiello is the associate director of development and recruitment in George Mason University’s School of Music. He makes professional appearances, both nationally and regionally.

According to Dennis Edelbrock, associate principal trumpet and personnel manager for the AFPO, the AFPO gets "the very best Pops players in the area." They are excited about the upcoming event and want to "create yet a new level of excitement that is readily 'read' and experienced by the audience."

“It is our hope that the concert provides an escape from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, and provides an opportunity for everyone to relax, and enjoy the best of what the season has to offer," said Mason Director of Artistic Programming Tom Reynolds.