Proctors to host ESYO Holiday Spectacular with special guest Madison Vandenburg

The Empire State Youth Orchestra (ESYO), known regionally and nationally for engaging young musicians from Upstate New York and western Massachusetts in the joyful pursuit of musical excellence, has announced its 2021 Holiday Spectacular, Sleigh Ride, with special guest Madison Vandenburg.

The family-friendly holiday concert is scheduled for Sunday, December 19, at 3pm at Proctors in Schenectady, featuring a sleigh full of talent, including ESYO’s flagship ensemble Symphony Orchestra. They will be conducted by former ESYO Music Director Helen Cha-Pyo, the newly formed ESYO Chamber Orchestra, and the ESYO Youth Jazz Orchestra. Joining ESYO for this one night only performance is 2019 American Idol finalist Madison VanDenburg, who returns home for the holidays to premiere the orchestral version of her new single, “The Light of Christmas.”

The concert program weaves together a seasonal story by Children’s Moonbeam Book award-winning author Vicki Addesso Dodd with sparkling holiday favorites, Christmas carols, and inspired Symphonic classics.. After finding themselves aboard Santa’s sleigh, audiences travel the world seeing the holidays through the eyes of a child and the sounds of music.

Accompanying each scene is music like Leroy Anderson’s iconic Christmas jingle “Sleigh Ride,” Waldteufel’s “Skaters Waltz,” “Troika” by Prokofiev, and a jazzy arrangement of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” Also featured on the program is the famed holiday classic “(There is No Place Like) Home for the Holidays” by Glenville-native Robert Allen. Exhausted from their sleigh ride, the children fall asleep and wake up on Christmas morning to hear the orchestral premiere of Madison VanDenburg’s new hit single.  In the finale, the audience is invited to join VanDenburg for a traditional carol sing-along. 

Music is the best accompaniment to the holidays. The pandemic has challenged us all and kept many from seeing their families during the holiday season. We believe that our musicians and our community could use a magical sleigh ride and sparkling music to reignite the light and love of the holidays.

Rebecca Calos, Empire State Youth Orchestra’s Executive Director

Written by multi-platinum songwriters Kenny Lamb (NSYNC, Justin Timberlake, Rhett Akins) and Anthony Little (Tina Turner, Backstreet Boys, and Reba), VanDenburg immediately connected with the song. “It’s not just a Christmas song. It is also about hope and togetherness and seeing the world from a place of love,” said VanDenburg. ”Music has always been a powerful way of helping people through tough times, and after the last year and a half, I think we all need to be reminded of the light that Christmas brings and that there will be good times ahead.”

After performing at the Schenectady Tree Lighting and Holiday Parade, Madison VanDenburg will tour the U.S. with her holiday hit before returning home to unwrap a new orchestral arrangement with her hometown youth orchestra and illuminate Downtown Schenectady. With support from local recording engineer Dan Czernicki at Classical Recording Service, videographer Griffin Bengraff, and LIVE Sound Inc, Sleigh Ride will stream online in ESYO’s Virtual Concert Hall on Christmas Day.  

For tickets to Sleigh Ride, An ESYO Holiday Spectacular, call Proctors Box Office at (518) 346-6204 or buy online here for $25 – group rates apply for groups of 10 or more. This concert is made possible through a grant from Schenectady County Legislature’s County Initiative Program.