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Symphony, like Charlie Brown, seeking a better Christmas

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Troy Shantz

The International Symphony Orchestra is ready to breathe new life into a holiday classic this weekend.

The playbill of “Peanuts and Sleighbells” includes songs Charlie Brown, Snoopy and Linus danced to for generations.

As well as a four-tune medley from Vince Guaraldi’s score of “A Charlie Brown Christmas!” the show features segments of Handel’s Messiah, “March of the Toys” from Herbert’s Babe’s in Toyland, and selections from A Canadian Brass Christmas, said symphony director Anthony Wing.

“The Christmas stuff is always tricky because in some fundamental ways you have to repeat yourself,” he said.

Emily Douglass

“We are always compelled to perform segments of (Messiah), and this year we gave The Nutcracker a rest.”

Under the direction of Maestro Douglas Bianchi, the 60-member symphony of Sarnia-Port Huron is joined by the 50-voice Symphony Singers, and special guest soprano Emily Douglass.

Douglass has entertained audiences across Europe and North America, and holds degrees in vocal performance, dance performance, and music education from the University of Michigan and Tennessee.

Wing, who became director in October, said organizers of the 61-year-old symphony wanted new arrangements this Christmas, in keeping with other new initiatives.

Head office moved downtown and opened at 143 North Christina St. this fall, and Wing is engaging younger audiences through Twitter and Instagram.

A performance of scores from the Pirates of the Caribbean and Harry Potter movies are coming in 2020, Wing added.

A powerful live symphony orchestra celebrating great film music should be crowd-pleaser, he added.

“What I’m doing is trying to address what orchestras are grappling with — how to get people in the seats.”


WHAT: The International Symphony Orchestra presents Peanuts and Sleighbells

WHEN: Dec. 7 at 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: The Sarnia performance is at Bethel Pentecostal Church, 1565 London Line

: Adult $35, senior $32, student $10, and $2 children under 14. Available at the ISO office, by calling 519-337-7775, via email at [email protected] and online at

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