Yuletide at the ISO
Experience the best holiday party in Indianapolis!
Featured this year:
The real holiday magic of Yuletide is two, not very well-kept secrets: the musicians of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and the community's love for this Holiday tradition. Neither could exist without the other. I am honored to be one of the representatives of something so special in the hearts, ears and traditions of Indiana."
Maestro Jack Everly
ISO Principal Pops Conductor and Music Director of AES Indiana Yuletide Celebration
History of Indiana's Favorite Tradition
A New Tradition
The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s December calendar resembled many other orchestras in the nation, performing Handel’s Messiah, the Nutcracker, or even Bach’s Christmas Oratorio. From 1975 to 1985, the Orchestra accompanied the Butler Ballet holiday performances. However, in early fall of 1986 Butler engaged another group and left a large hole in the Symphony’s December performance calendar.
Fortunately, the ISO and Exxon Arts Endowment Conductor Steven Stein had already begun experimenting with new holiday performance with the help of the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir in 1984 and 1985, called “Yuletide Pops” and “Yuletide Joy!” respectively. When the gap in the 1986 calendar appeared, ISO management used these holiday experiments as a basis for a new community-driven event. The Orchestra continued its collaboration with the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir and invited the Indiana Repertory Theatre and Dance Kaleidoscope on the Hilbert Circle Theatre stage. Each organization co-produced a fourth of the show, with the grand finale performance of A Christmas Carol, featuring larger-than-life puppets.
A Yuletide Celebration ran for eight performances under the baton of guest conductor Joel Levine, and immediately became a new tradition for many.
A Change to the Celebration
Over the next four years, the number of performances rose from eight to a staggering twenty-one in December 1990. As the success for Yuletide grew and collaborating organizations started their own shows, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra shifted its vision for A Yuletide Celebration. Instead of four separate acts, the artistic team wanted a seamless production like a Broadway show. The new vision required a new view of casting to focus on a cast equally skilled at singinging, dancing, and acting.
After 1990, Joel Levine was unable to return because of his duties as the Oklahoma City Music Director. Levine was followed by James Caraher of the Indianapolis Opera in 1991 and Keith Lockhart, Music Director of the Utah Symphony in 1992 and 1993. Jack Everly conducted Yuletide in 1994 and conducted Yuletide each year since, becoming its official Music Director.
36 Years of Yuletide
The new format also required a central figure to act as host. A glittering array of stars have fulfilled that role since, including Frank Raiter, Judy Kaye, and Ted Keegan. Other recent hosts include Josh Kaufman, Angela Brown, Frankie Moreno, and Sandi Patty. Yuletide Celebration continues to be an integral part of Hoosier holiday traditions. In a testament to the success of Yuletide Celebration, over 400 families have attended Yuletide at least 10 years in a row—and thousands more continue to make Yuletide an integral part of their holiday traditions.