Stories » SLSO's Cally Banham adds a spin on Christmas tunes from the sacred to the secular / RIVERFRONT TIMES

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SLSO's Cally Banham adds a spin on Christmas tunes from the sacred to the secular / RIVERFRONT TIMES

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For members of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, the holiday season brings a yearly dusting-off of some old chestnuts. As the month of December goes on, the SLSO calendar becomes less a showcase for the works of Bruckner or Mendelsohn and more a repository of holiday shows and Christmas pops matinees. 

Cally Banham, a symphony musician who is normally featured on the English horn, notes that the SLSO's programmers walk a line between popular, seat-filling favorites and newer holiday fare. "I think it is a little bit of a challenge for them to come up with something fresh; there are obviously things that are tried and true, the warhorses of Christmastime like selections from The Nutcracker, that will never get old or tired," she says. 

Banham is always happy to play the holiday hits; her English horn even gets a prominent role in a few of those Nutcracker selections. But this year Banham has added her own spin on a range of Christmas tunes from the sacred to the secular with her album Cor Christmas. Befitting her pedigree, there are plenty of orchestral assists from her SLSO chums on strings, brass and percussion. But across thirteen tracks, Banham collects a varied stretch of arrangements and moods that push Cor Christmas outside the realm of classical music.    CELESTE BOYER PHOTOGRAPHY

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