Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra
Press Release

Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra Announces Holiday Concerts

Holiday Pops to feature Broadway singer Ashley Brown and conductor Steven Reineke

By - Nov 6th, 2014 09:35 am

MILWAUKEE, WIS. 11/06/2014 – The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra announces an assortment of holiday concerts this season, beginning with Cirque Musica Holiday on Wednesday, December 3, 2014, Under the Mistletoe with Ashley Brown on December 5-7, 2014, The Polar Express on Saturday, December 6, 2014, and Messiah on December 17-21, 2014.

Cirque Musica Holiday features stunning aerial feats, strongmen, and mind-boggling contortionists led by Associate Conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong. This year’s Holiday Pops concerts – Under the Mistletoe with Ashley Brown – offer a festive blend of traditional favorites and new holiday hits, featuring one of Broadway’s leading ladies led by guest conductor Steven Reineke. The Polar Express presents projected images from the book while the words of the Caldecott Medal winner come to life through the MSO, Milwaukee Children’s Choir, and narrator. Finally, conductor Paul Goodwin and the Milwaukee Symphony Chorus perform the classic Messiah at venues around the area.


Cirque Musica Holiday
Wednesday, December 3 | 7:30 p.m.
Francesco Lecce-Chong, conductor

Under the Mistletoe with Ashley Brown
Friday, December 5 | 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, December 6 | 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, December 7 | 2:30 p.m.
Steven Reineke, conductor
Ashley Brown, vocalist
MSO Chorus, Lee Erickson, director


The Polar Express
Saturday, December 6 | 2:30 p.m.
Francesco Lecce-Chong, conductor
Ryan Milstead, baritone
Milwaukee Children’s Choir, Marco Melendez, director


Wed. Dec. 17 | 7:30 p.m. | St. Mary Catholic Faith Community
Thurs. Dec. 18 | 7:30 p.m. | Cathedral of St. John
Fri. Dec. 19 | 7:30 p.m. | Cathedral of St. John
Sat. Dec. 20 | 7:30 p.m. | Basilica of St. Josaphat
Sun. Dec. 21 | 4:00 p.m. | Basilica of St. Josaphat
Paul Goodwin, conductor
Haeran Hong, soprano | Eve Gigliotti, mezzo-soprano
Daniel Shirley, tenor | Ryan Kuster, baritone
MSO Chorus, Lee Erickson, director
Tickets are available Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., at the MSO ticket office, by calling 414.291.7605, or anytime at Tickets to Cirque Musica Holiday, Under the Mistletoe, and The Polar Express may also be purchased through the Marcus Center Box Office at 414.273.7206.

The Pops Series is presented by Hal Leonard Corporation. The Sunday Pops Series and Special Performances are sponsored by Johnson Controls. Wisconsin Public Radio is the Pops Media Sponsor.


American conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong, currently associate conductor of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, has worked with orchestras around the world, including the Atlanta, Indianapolis, and St. Louis symphony orchestras, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and the Hong Kong, Pitesti (Romania), and Ruse (Bulgaria) philharmonics. Equally at ease in the opera house, Mr. Lecce-Chong has served as principal conductor for the Brooklyn Repertory Opera and as staff conductor for the Santa Fe Opera. He has earned a growing reputation and critical acclaim for dynamic, forceful performances that have garnered national distinction, including the Solti Foundation Career Assistance Award and The Presser Foundation Music Award. In summer 2014, he served as the associate conductor at the Grand Tetons Music Festival and had guest appearances with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Las Vegas Philharmonic, and Breckenridge Music Festival.

In his role with the MSO, Mr. Lecce-Chong works closely with renowned Music Director Edo de Waart and is directly responsible for leading over forty subscription, tour, education, and community concert performances annually. In his acclaimed subscription appearances with the MSO, he has collaborated with soloists such as Itzhak Perlman, Ignat Solzhenitsyn, Augustin Hadelich, and Joyce Yang. In addition, Mr. Lecce-Chong has curated and conducted a special three-week series at venues around Milwaukee using thematic elements to draw together a diversity of works from outside the standard repertoire.

As a trained pianist and composer, Mr. Lecce-Chong embraces innovative programming, champions the work of new composers, and by example supports arts education. He brings the excitement of new music to audiences of all ages through special presentations embodying diverse program repertoire and the use of unconventional performances spaces. Mr. Lecce-Chong also provides artistic leadership for the MSO’s nationally-lauded Arts in Community Education (ACE) program – one of the largest arts integration programs in the country. He is a frequent guest speaker at organizations around Milwaukee and hosts Meet the Music, the MSO’s pre-concert lecture series.

Mr. Lecce-Chong is a native of Boulder, Colorado, where he began conducting at the age of sixteen. He is a graduate of the Mannes College of Music, where he received his Bachelor of Music degree with honors in piano and orchestral conducting. Mr. Lecce-Chong also holds a diploma from the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied as a Martin and Sarah Taylor Fellow with renowned pedagogue Otto-Werner Mueller. He currently resides in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Follow his blog, Finding Exhilaration, at

Ashley Brown originated the title role in Mary Poppins on Broadway for which she received Outer Critics, Drama League, and Drama Desk nominations for Best Actress. Ms. Brown also starred as Mary Poppins in the national tour of Mary Poppins where she garnered a 2010 Garland award for “Best Performance in a Musical.” Ms. Brown’s other Broadway credits include Belle in Beauty and the Beast and the national tour of Disney’s On the Record. Ashley has performed with virtually all of the top orchestras in North America including the Boston, Philly, New York, and Cincinnati Pops; New York Philharmonic; The Hollywood Bowl Orchestra at Disney Hall; Pittsburgh, Fort Worth, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Seattle, Houston, and Vancouver symphonies; and The Philadelphia Orchestra. She has also performed with the BBC Orchestra opposite Josh Groban. Ashley made her solo concert debut at The Kennedy Center as part of Barbara Cook’s Spotlight Series, and has appeared in New York City at prestigious venues including Feinstein’s at the Regency and Birdland. Other projects include her own PBS special called “Ashley Brown: Call Me Irresponsible” which received a PBS Telly Award. Ms. Brown’s long awaited album of Broadway and American Songbook standards is available on Ghostlight/Sony.

Steven Reineke is the music director of the New York Pops at Carnegie Hall, principal pops conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and principal pops conductor of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. He is a frequent guest conductor with The Philadelphia Orchestra and has been on the podium with the Boston Pops, The Cleveland Orchestra, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Ravinia. His extensive North American conducting appearances include Houston, San Francisco, Edmonton, and Pittsburgh. As a creator of more than one hundred orchestral arrangements for the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, Mr. Reineke’s work has been performed worldwide and can be heard on numerous recordings on the Telarc label. His symphonic works Celebration Fanfare, Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and Casey at the Bat are performed frequently in North America. His numerous wind ensemble compositions are published by the C.L. Barnhouse Company. A native of Ohio, Mr. Reineke is a graduate of Miami University of Ohio, where he earned bachelor of music degrees with honors in both trumpet performance and music composition. He currently resides in New York City with his partner, Eric Gabbard.

Paul Goodwin is renowned for his historically informed interpretations of music of all periods, his wide repertoire, and his interest in contemporary music. He has a great passion for incorporating period style within the traditional orchestral world and creating idiosyncratic and dynamic programs. He is artistic director and conductor of the Carmel Bach Festival in California. Paul has a wide symphonic repertoire, conducting orchestras that include the BBC Philharmonic and Halle, Royal Scottish National, and Scottish Chamber orchestras. In the United States, he has conducted the Minnesota, National, Seattle, Philadelphia, and St. Paul Chamber orchestras. In Europe, he has worked with the Belgian and Spanish national orchestras; the Rotterdam, Helsinki, Real Filharmonia de Galicia, and Royal Stockholm philharmonics; and the Bayerischer, Hessischer, NDR, and MDR Rundfunkorchester.

Milwaukee Symphony Chorus, directed by Lee Erickson, has become one of the finest symphony choruses in the country. Founded in 1976 by Margaret Hawkins at the request of the MSO’s second music director, Kenneth Schermerhorn, the 150 volunteer members are dedicated to artistic excellence and performances of the highest caliber. The Chorus performs with the MSO throughout each season and also performs regularly at Ravinia with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. In addition, the chorus is featured on many of the MSO’s recordings, including the current MSO Classics digital series. The 2014.15 season includes performances of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Brahms’s German Requiem, and Orff’s Carmina burana. Chamber groups from the chorus also perform Handel’s Messiah in December. The 2013.14 season included performances of Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé, Schubert’s Mass No. 6, and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.


The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, under the dynamic leadership of Music Director Edo de Waart, is among the finest orchestras in the nation and the largest cultural institution in Wisconsin. Now in his sixth season with the MSO, Maestro de Waart has led sold-out concerts, elicited critical acclaim, and conducted a celebrated performance at Carnegie Hall on May 11, 2012. The MSO’s full-time professional musicians perform over 135 classics, pops, family, education, and community concerts each season in venues throughout the state. Since its inception in 1959, the MSO has found innovative ways to give music a home in the region, develop music appreciation and talent among area youth, and raise the national reputation of Milwaukee.

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