Classical Music

Houston Symphony's Home Alone Promises Holiday Spirit

“Will you please tell Santa that instead of presents this year, I just want my family back.” - Kevin McCallister
“Will you please tell Santa that instead of presents this year, I just want my family back.” - Kevin McCallister Movie still from Home Alone by Twentieth Century Fox
The film might be titled Home Alone, but the house will be packed this weekend as the Houston Symphony presents the movie along with live orchestra at Jones Hall on Saturday. The 1990 blockbuster follows Kevin McCallister, who was absentmindedly left behind in Chicago while his family travels to France, as he thwarts a pair of burglars on their Christmas Eve heist.

Guest conductor Constantine Kitsopoulos said, “It’s a feel-good film, and it’s great for the holidays. The other thing is that we’re adjusting to the COVID-19 pandemic, and this movie has a little extra meaning because of its sense of family and the importance of home. It’s even more sentimental this year.”

Home Alone became the second highest grossing film the year of its release, bested by Ghost. It launched Macaulay Culkin's childhood acting career, and no one will ever forget Catherine O'Hara's character screaming, "Kevin!" Written by John Hughes and directed by Chris Columbus, the flick features a score by the living legend John Williams.

“I can’t imagine watching Home Alone without the music. It really brings the film together,” he said. “John Williams has this uncanny ability to put the human condition in musical form.”

To aid in the choral sections, Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts’ Vocal Department will join for the day’s performances.

Having performed Home Alone – Film With Live Orchestra several times across the country, Kitsopoulos mentioned there is one constant whenever he invites younger singers to perform.

“When the youth choruses arrive at their rehearsal with the orchestra, you see the smiles on the faces of the orchestra members when they hear these wonderful young voices sing this very emotional music,” he said.

Kitsopoulos’ conducting range stretches far and wide. He has worked on classics like Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Don Giovanni, and La Bohème. He also was music director for Broadway’s Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, Swan Lake, and Les Misérables.

He believes that conducting to a live film is much akin to conducting any other style – except for one small detail.

“The beat patterns are the same. You still have to keep a million things going on at the same time in your head…keeping track of a soloist, a chorus, an orchestra, etc.,” he said. “In this case, by adding the film element to it, the film keeps going no matter what we do. Failure is not an option. You have to stay with the film, and that's a major challenge.”

For anyone looking for something to do this year to get into the holiday spirit, Kitsopoulous says this experience is one that music aficionados and amateurs can all enjoy.

“This is a great concert experience for families, and it's also a great concert experience for anybody who has never heard a symphony orchestra live. Houston Symphony is one of the top and top orchestras in the country, if not the world, and there's nothing like the thrill of hearing a live orchestra,” he said.

He summed up the overall experience in a few short words.

“It's community. It's home. It's the holidays.”
Houston Symphony’s Home Alone – Film With Live Orchestra takes place 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, December 3 at Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. For tickets or information, call 713-224-7575 or visit $34 - $165
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Sam Byrd is a freelance contributor to the Houston Press who loves to take in all of Houston’s sights, sounds, food and fun. He also loves helping others to discover Houston’s rich culture.
Contact: Sam Byrd