Ocean City Pops Continues Tradition of Holiday Musical Celebration
“The Christmas concert is an annual tradition in Ocean City,” says William Scheible, Artistic Director and Conductor of the Ocean City Pops Orchestra. “It is a festive occasion that features some of the most glorious and celebratory music written for the holidays.” Scheible also made a point to recognize the concert sponsors, Norman and JoAnna Schaut. “The Schauts play a very important role,” he says. “Their support helps to keep this tradition alive for the people in Ocean City year after year.”
This year’s concert – “Joy to the World: A Symphonic and Choral Celebration of the Joyous Sounds of Christmas!” – is on Saturday, December 7, 7:30 p.m. at the Ocean City Tabernacle, 550 Wesley Avenue.
The Ocean City Pops Orchestra–a highly-regarded institution in this low-key Jersey shore town–started in the 1920s and offered free concerts at the foot of Moorlyn Terrace, not far from where the current Ocean City Music Pier stands. Construction on the Music Pier began in 1928, and the then-Municipal Orchestra performed two concerts a day, seven days a week. The orchestra, now known as the Ocean City Pops Orchestra, has operated continuously from that time to the present day.
Scheible, who was a first chair trumpeter, became the Pops' Artistic Director in 1987. Under his leadership, the orchestra has received many grants and has used the funding to create outreach programs for young musicians and also to bring professional artists from all over the world to perform in Ocean City.
Scheible’s dedication is also apparent with each new concert season, as the orchestra continues to present programs that include a variety of classical and popular music and feature both professional and up-and-coming vocal artists and instrumentalists.
And the repertoire for the holiday concert clearly demonstrates this diversity. The program will include seasonal favorites, an assortment of elaborate carol arrangements– the opening movement of the Bach “Christmas Oratorio,” the last movement of Beethoven’s “Violin Concerto”– and end with the “Hallelujah Chorus” as a finale. Guest performers include soprano Elisa Matthews, who will sing several carols with the Cape Shore Chorale, and violinist Robyn Bollinger, conducted by Scott Beiner.
Bollinger will play the Beethoven concerto at the concert. I asked why this piece was selected. “We chose it because it’s very festive,” she said. “It’s an upbeat, merry romp of a movement.”
The core orchestra consists of 25 professional musicians – mostly from New York and Philadelphia. “There is a group that comes back to play with the orchestra year after year,” Scheible said, “and many of them have been playing together with the Pops for decades.”
“In addition to the Christmas concert, we present approximately 35 summer concerts each year in the historic Music Pier on the Boardwalk,” said Scheible. “And we are a part of Ocean City’s extensive First Night events on New Years Eve, with two performances.”
“We have been performing Christmas concerts for more than 30 years – for as long as I have been Director and Conductor, and more,” Scheible said. “It is a wonderful way to bring together the community.”
Listen to “Sleigh Ride” in this audio excerpt from a previous holiday concert.
Tickets for “Joy to the World” are $15 each and can be purchased online, by phone 609-525-9300, and at City Hall, Room 214, Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The Ocean City Tabernacle Box Office will open at 6:00 p.m. on the night of the concert. The Ocean City Pops will also be performing “Christmas Selections” on Sunday, December 8th, at 3:00 p.m. at the Levoy Theatre in Millville, New Jersey.