The idea behind the concert is that holidays survive because they get reinvented, not replicated. We decided to create a concert that does that too. The program will begin with an interaction, where I ask kids, "What has your family added to traditional holiday activities that make them your own." Then we show how John Harbison takes one of the most traditional songs in the world, "The Twelve Days of Christmas," and reinvents it as a virtuoso brass quintet. Chris Van Allsburg has likewise taken all the basic elements of Christmas - Santa Claus, presents, etc. - and invented a completely new story, making those elements come alive in a completely, new way. I in turn have taken that story and made IT come alive in a new way. Constantly flitting through the composition are familiar strains of fragments of beloved Christmas music: "Deck the Halls," "Joy to the World," and "The First Noel" - all reinvented as part of the fabric of a new Christmas tradition. To close the program we will also teach the audience a new carol to send them on their way with a final new tradition.
— Robert Kapilow
The Polar Express, Chris Van Allsburg’s best-selling Christmas classic, tells the story of a boy who boards a mysterious train bound for the North Pole. Kapilow explains, ‘Chris Van Allsburg has taken all the basic elements of Christmas and invented a completely new story, making those elements come alive in a new way. Throughout the composition are familiar strains of beloved Christmas music: Deck the Halls, Joy to the World and The First Noel — all reinvented as part of the fabric of a new Christmas tradition.’