This year, keep an eye out for your friends and neighbors during the Portland Symphony Orchestra’s 26th annual Magic of Christmas, some of whom are from the Lakes Region.

With more than 100 chorus members and an orchestra of equal size, chances are good that someone you know will take the stage under the direction of Toshi Shimada in his final Magic performances. From the Lakes Region, local chorus members include Annette Couture, Robert Couture and Tracie LeBlanc of Naples and Nancy Basselet of Casco.

The Magic of Christmas chorus this year is directed by Robert Westerberg. Westerberg is the director of the Portland Community Chorus and choral director at York High School. Westerberg has been selected as a guest conductor for dozens of choirs throughout New England and is also the Senior High Choral Director for the University of Maine’s Summer Youth Music program. Westerberg is a resident of Wells.

The Magic of Christmas program features audience favorites such as “Sleigh Ride,” “White Christmas,” excerpts from The Nutcracker, the Hallelujah Chorus and an audience sing-along of sacred hymns. In keeping with annual tradition, Magic of Christmas is not complete without the “guest conductor,” a child selected from the audience to conduct a piece during each concert. The Organ Prelude concert, free to ticket-holders, takes place approximately one hour before each performance.

Sponsors of the 2005 Magic of Christmas are Virginia Hodgkins Somers Foundation, Hannaford, IDEXX Laboratories and Northeast Delta Dental.

Seats are still available for most shows, and tickets can be purchased through PortTix, 207-842-0800 or at the PortTix box office on Myrtle St. between noon and 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Tickets range in price from $15 to $55, with discounts available for seniors, students and children. Discounts for groups of ten or more are available by calling 773-6128.

Magic of Christmas 2005

Toshiyuki Shimada, conductor

Friday, Dec. 16 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 17 at 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, Dec. 18 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

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