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Westmoreland Symphony takes audiences 'Home for the Holidays'

| Sunday, Dec. 23, 2012, 9:00 p.m.
(from left), Marc Tourre, Director, All-Star Choir of Westmoreland County, Kate Amatuzzo, Soprano, and Matthew Kraemer, Guest Conductor, gather for a photo backstage at the Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra annual Home for the Holidays concert, held at the Palace Theatre in Greensburg on Saturday evening, December 22, 2012. Kim Stepinsky | For The Tribune-Review
Soprano, Kate Amatuzzo, (front), sings 'Christmas Eve in My Hometown', as guest conductor, Matthew Kraemer, directs during the Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra annual Home for the Holidays concert, held at the Palace Theatre in Greensburg on Saturday evening, December 22, 2012. Kim Stepinsky | For The Tribune-Review
Marc Tourre, Director, The All-Star Choir of Westmoreland County, directs the choir, during the Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra annual Home for the Holidays concert, held at the Palace Theatre in Greensburg on Saturday evening, December 22, 2012. Kim Stepinsky | For The Tribune-Review
(from left), Andrew Velti, Chris Ansell and Joshua Gillott, Yough High School seniors, sing with the All-Star Choir of Westmoreland County, during the Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra annual Home for the Holidays concert, held at the Palace Theatre in Greensburg on Saturday evening, December 22, 2012. Kim Stepinsky | For The Tribune-Review
Guest Conductor, Matthew Kraemer, directs the Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra featuring the All-Star Choir of Westmoreland County during the Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra annual Home for the Holidays concert, held at the Palace Theatre in Greensburg on Saturday evening, December 22, 2012. Kim Stepinsky | For The Tribune-Review

“Home for the Holidays” is not just the favored destination this time of year, it's also the title of the annual December offering from the Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra, featuring the All-Star Choir of Westmoreland County.

Version 2012, featuring selections sacred and secular, took place Saturday evening before an almost-full house in Greensburg's venerable Palace Theatre.

Guest conductor was Matthew Kraemer, music director and conductor for the Butler County Symphony Orchestra and Erie Chamber Orchestra. He was introduced by WSO managing director Morrie Brand.

The choir is made up of students from area high schools and universities, under the direction of Mark Tourre, with accompanist Michael Rozell.

Choir members lifted their voices in two John Williams numbers from the movie “Home Alone.”

Resplendent in an iridescent emerald, beaded gown was soprano Kate Amatuzzo, an Erie-area music teacher, who joined the orchestra for three sentimental holiday songs, including Irving Berlin's “White Christmas.”

Kraemer's introductions to the music included the interesting and little-known tidbit that “Sleigh Ride” was written in the sweltering midsummer, while composer Leroy Anderson was in the midst of digging a ditch — perhaps keeping cool by imagining that “wonderland of snow.”

An audience-participation sing-along came just before the program finale of Handel's “Hallelujah Chorus.”

Those lifting their voices included the Rev. John and Mary Smaligo with Beth, Jennifer Miele and Dr. Jason Cinti, George Shaner and Michael Philopena, Barbara Ferrier, Betsy Hoeldtke, Rowan Hoeldtke, Lloyd and Cheryle Ansell, Susan Ansell, Don and Anita Henry and Donald and Marge McAndrew.

Also: Dr. Robin Sims, Melessie Clark, Penny Davis, Jim and Tina Grossman, Jim and Bonnie Grossman, Bill and Irene Barnett, Bob and Marion Barnett, Brad and Lisa Zundel, Francis and Rosanne Kirk, Beth Weisel and Donald Crusan, Jason and Karen Barnhart andCharles and Jody Englert.

— Shirley McMarlin

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