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A weekly series focused on Bloomington-Normal's arts community and other major events. Made possible with support from PNC Financial Services.

Illinois Symphony Orchestra is back on stage for 'Holiday Pops' concert in Bloomington

The Illinois Symphony Orchestra returns to the stage this week for the in-person “Holiday Pops in the Heartland” concert in partnership with other Twin City arts organizations.

The show is Friday at the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts. The Illinois Symphony Orchestra is joining forces with youth orchestras and youth ballet companies from across Central Illinois, including the Twin Cities Ballet Company and Bloomington-Normal Youth Symphony.

“With this concert, the focus is collaboration,” said music director Ken Lam.

Audiences can expect holiday favorites like "The Nutcracker" and "Sleigh Ride," but also lesser-known pieces like “Hansel and Gretel,” Lam said.

“You can’t have the same five pieces every year, so we try to mix it up a little bit,” Lam said.

The 2020 “Holiday Pops” show was pushed online, due to the pandemic.

“You gotta remember: We haven’t been getting together very much in the last year and a half. And this is really the first time a big, big orchestra is assembled on stage,” Lam said.

This is an event for everyone – kids, adults, and families.

“They’re coming into a safe environment to still enjoy those traditions that they have greatly missed,” said ISO director of marketing Rachel Pinto.

The Illinois Symphony Orchestra’s “Holiday Pops in the Heartland” is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 17, at the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts. You can buy tickets online.

Ariele Jones is WGLT's assistant program director and host of Morning Edition, Highway 309, and Center Stage.