Carmel Symphony Orchestra’s ‘Holiday Pops’ to feature variety of performers


For Leah Crane, the Carmel Symphony Orchestra’s “Holiday Pops” show will be a special showcase.

“The tunes I’m doing are really great pieces,” said Crane, who is a singer with Pavel & Direct Contact. “I love holiday music. Most people do. I’m just excited to be a part of a show that has so many different artists and a dance group involved, and the Indianapolis Children’s Choir and Josh Kaufman is incredible. I feel it’s going to be a great revue of Indianapolis talent.”

The CSO “Holiday Pops” performances will be at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Dec. 4 at the Palladium at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel.

“This will be Leah’s third time with the CSO in a year,” CSO Artistic Director Janna Hymes said. “Because she is a crossover artist, meaning she sings classical, pops and Latin music, she has fit into many of our programs. Leah knows many of the other artists, which makes for a nice musical experience.”

Crane performed with Pavel & Direct Contact in a Latin music celebration in a Masterworks concert in October. She previously performed with CSO at Cedar Creek Winery and Brew Co. in Martinsville in 2021.

 For the holiday concert, Crane will sing two songs arranged by Chicago-based arranger-producer Paul Langford.

“He helped me to produce and arrange an album this year, so I got to release my first solo album with him,” Crane said. “He’s a great friend and fabulous arranger.”

Crane will perform arrangements of “O Holy Night” and “The Christmas Song.”

“(Langford arranged ‘The Christmas Song’) specifically for me to do for a couple of years with Anderson Symphony Orchestra, and it has a bossa nova feel to it,” Crane said.

Crane will sing two duets with Kaufman, performing on “Baby It’s Cold Outside” and Stevie Wonder’s “Someday at Christmas,” which she will perform for the first time.

“Josh has such a soulful voice, and he has really incredible range,” Crane said.

Crane said she and Kaufman did some caroling gigs, where the singers dressed in madrigal costumes.

“Before he won ‘The Voice,’ maybe the year before is the last time I’ve done anything with him,” Crane said.

Kaufman was the winner of the sixth season of “The Voice” in 2014.

“It’s always great to be backed by a full orchestra and the Carmel Symphony Orchestra is phenomenal,” Kaufman said. “I really like a lot of the slower, softer, traditional carols, too, but for a show like this you tend to want more of the high-energy stuff.”

Kaufman said he likes performing classic soul pieces like Donny Hathaway’s “This Christmas” and “Someday at Christmas.

This is the first time Kaufman has performed with the CSO.

“I was rooting for him, on ‘The Voice,’” Hymes said. “When I came to work in Carmel, I was happy to learn Josh lived here. I went to the Jazz Kitchen to hear him a few years ago and we met at that time. The rest is history.”

Hymes said each year she tries to program a concert that features Indianapolis-area talent.

“Often, audiences know these artists and seem to appreciate the collaborative effort,” Hymes said. “Having younger performers, such as NZ TapZ and ICC, is a wonderful way of bringing them onstage to work with professional musicians and also to introduce them to our audience. I enjoy working with young people and this is often a highlight of the concert.”

Hymes said the show usually has a variety of new numbers each year.

“We play ‘Sleigh Ride’ every year and that is always a hit,” Hymes said. “When we arrange music especially for a concert, I always enjoy bringing it to life for the first time.”

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