This holiday season, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s first-ever Principal Pops Conductor Michael Krajewski has cooked up a very special gift for the audience: A holiday pops concert featuring Broadway singer Capathia Jenkins and local jazz trumpeter and vocalist Joe Grandsen on December 17 and 18.
Jenkins is no stranger to the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Last year, she worked with Krajewski on Broadway Rocks, a show that played Symphony Hall in October 2009 and was revived for Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre patrons this past July. During the summer, Jenkins and Krajewski started talking about putting a holiday pops concert, for which she would be the guest vocalist.
“I was thrilled,” she gushes. “I really like the city of Atlanta, but what I really like is that the orchestra there is fantastic. For a couple of years, now, I’ve been working with orchestras around the world, but Atlanta’s is really special. I like the way they play, but I also like their spirit. It feels like everyone is having a great time on stage and that makes for a wonderful atmosphere.”
Jenkins also is a big fan of Krajewski. “He’s a great conductor and has a wonderful sense of humor,” she says. “I love the way he relates to an orchestra and singers; he’s lighthearted and down-to-earth.”
While they were talking about the holiday show, Krajewski told Jenkins to check out an Atlanta-based jazz trumpeter and vocalist he’d had his eye on, Joe Grandsen.
Typically, Grandsen and his 17-piece big band play 320 gigs a year, but not all of them are in Atlanta. “We play a lot of private events for Clint Eastwood in California,” he explains. “He’s the nicest guy in the world, and he loves jazz and the trumpet.”
Although Grandsen has played with orchestras as a substitute trumpeter, A Very Merry Holiday Pops marks his debut as a featured soloist. “It’s a huge pleasure and an honor playing with the ASO,” Grandsen says. “It’s a big deal.”
During the show, Grandsen will be singing songs such as “Let it Snow,” “Up on the Rooftop” and a duet with Jenkins, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”
“I love that ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside,'” Jenkins says. She also loves Rankin & Bass Christmas movie classics like “Frosty the Snowman” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Every Christmas season, she watches those movies with her family in Brooklyn and heads to Manhattan to see a holiday show. “My brother and I would go see the [Radio City] Christmas Spectacular or [A Christmas Carol],” Jenkins laughs. “We’d be the adults with all these kids around us, and we’d have our cider and he’d say, ‘Have you found the Christmas Spirit yet?’ And I’d say, ‘Yes, have you found it?'” All those spectacular Christmas songs, she says, puts her in the mood of thanksgiving and being grateful.