As you struggle to create that perfect Christmas haiku for the loved ones in your life or cell block, be sure to take time to enjoy some of the great holiday music in the area. Nay, I speak not of the muzak version of "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" playing at full volume over Glenbrook's hidden speakers. Rather, one can patronize one of the many fine performances by the Fort Wayne Philharmonic and hear Christmas music the way our founding fathers intended: free from copyright protection.

Fer'instance, on December 8, 9, 15 and 16, the Fort Wayne Philharmonic will be putting on their wildly popular Holiday Pops concerts. While you may be tempted to call maestro Tchievzhel "pops", I don't recommend you do it to his face (the man is an expert with that baton and isn't afraid to use it). "Pops" is lingo that hip marketing people use to show that they are more "with-it" than the rest of us corn-lovin', pig-farmin' Hoosiers, which I suppose is better than being a corn-farming, pig... um, never mind. Instead of playing an entire performance of strictly classical pieces, the philharmonic plays a variety of new (copyright protected) and old (Public Domain) Holiday favorites arranged for a large orchestra. Have you ever heard an entire symphony cranking through " Good King Wenceslas" with the percussionists in full frenzy? It is something you would remember, unless it is a suppressed memory. Instead of hearing these beloved tunes sung off-key by children or winos, you can hear them fleshed out, big and grand and full of vigor by the Philharmonic and the Philharmonic Chorus. There is a good reason why these performances are so popular, but at this time these reasons are still protected under section 302 of Copyright Law and cannot be reproduced in any form without prior written permission of the publisher.

If you like your music stirred, not shaken, pirouette on down to the Performing Arts Center any time between now and December 10th for a rousing rendition of Tchaikovsky's famous ballet The Nutcracker by The Fort Wayne Ballet. Yep, lots of soldiers and toys buzzing around the stage doing some fancy hoofin' while accompanied by some great music, music that has been used in everything from Fantasia to Chip And Dale cartoons (not the beefy dancers, though I really wouldn't know, ahem) to the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Movie. With credentials like that, you just can't go wrong! Since performance times change depending on the day, call 484-9646 for more information.

For those in the mood for a baroque masterpiece, I've got just the hamster to spin your wheel. On December 17 at 7:30 at the glorious Embassy theatre, the Fort Wayne Philharmonic and Chorus will be presenting Handel's Messiah. This piece was written in 1741 as a benefit concert to raise money for the poor. Since that time it has been used repeatedly in this capacity, making it perhaps the only classical piece that has fed the hungry, clothed the naked, and fostered the orphan. It is also quite possibly the most beloved and familiar oratorio in the English-speaking world, aside from Elmer Fudd's "Keel duh Wabbit." That said, the entire performance is about ninety minutes in length but most people are only familiar with about ten minutes of that, most notably the "Hallelujah Chorus", sung by the famous "Hallelujah Brothers" of Pimento Loaf County, Kentucky.

As a parting Christmas wish, be sure to check out this wonderful yule-tide song by husband and wife team Fleming and John. If you go to you can download their version of "Winter Wonderland." Well, at least the words are from "Winter Wonderland" but the music is Zeppelin's "Misty Mountain Hop." And yes, Fleming can peel paint with her voice just as well as Robert Plant. And speaking of unauthorized cover songs, check out my version of "The Grinch Song" at . This song was on for a year but was recently pulled due to some nonsense about me not having received permission to cover the song. Bah, humbug! And since this is the season of giving, why not treat yourself or someone you love with an experience in classical music? You can pick up many great CDs for only $4 (the Siberian Philharmonic and Fish Fry Club works cheap). Not sure where to start? Send me an e-mail at with some of the non-classical bands that you like and I'd be more than happy to suggest some classical selections. Heck, with all the millions I'm making off my unauthorized Grinch cover, I need something to do while floating around the Caribbean in my yacht.

Copyright 2000 Jason Hoffman

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