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With the Magic of Christmas, a new conductor brings his own flair to a Maine tradition

“A large part of what I do is make it sparkle”

PORTLAND, Maine — If it seems as though the Portland Symphony Orchestra’s Magic of Christmas has been around for as long as you can remember, that’s because—unless your memory goes way back--it has. In the decades since the concert series began in 1980, it has become a true holiday tradition in Maine featuring a mix of classical and popular music performed by gifted musicians who often seem to be having as much fun as the audience.

Eckart Preu, the conductor and music director of the PSO, understands the Magic of Christmas legacy even though he was never a part of it. He grew up in what was then East Germany, and this is his first holiday season with the PSO. What is not lost on him is that these concerts may offer more pure entertainment—in a word, fun--than anything else the PSO does all year long.

“I think it’s extremely important for orchestras, and for everybody,” Preu says. “Christmas is not only a celebration of family, but it’s also important for orchestras to project fun, to be family-friendly, to attract kids and to enable families to have an experience together that they will not forget.”

The music is familiar and the musicians are pros, so Preu plays a special role. “A large part of what I do is to remind people of how great this actually is, to put all the energy in it. And,” he says with a smile, “to make it sparkle.”

The Magic of Christmas at Merrill Auditorium in Portland runs through December 22.

For more information, including ticket information click here.

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