Dec. 7 2011 12:00 AM

Soprano reunites with LSO for a holiday pops concert


    Vocalist Diane Penning has a Christmas party to plan for
    her husband, three sons and 35 of their closest family members. But not
    until she sings with three Michigan orchestras at their holiday pops

    Penning makes a stop at the Wharton Center’s Cobb Great Hall with the Lansing Symphony Orchestra on Sunday.

    The Grand Rapids native has a bachelor’s in music and
    voice from the University of Michigan and a master’s of music degree in
    voice performance from Western Michigan University. She teaches private
    lessons and is an adjunct voice instructor at Grand Rapids Community
    College, but she never turns down the chance to perform.

    “I fit very well into the niche of holiday pops,” Penning
    said. “The shows are very eclectic. There are some classical selections
    and some more standard, popular ones.”

    This year, the audience will hear her renditions of “O
    Holy Night,” “I Wonder as I Wander,” “Silver Bells,” “It’s Beginning to
    Look a Lot Like Christmas” and two versions of “Ave Maria.” 

    “With the Christmas pop tunes, I can get so carried
    away,” she admitted. “They bring back so many memories (for the
    audience). They encapsulate family and traditions, and it’s really
    rewarding to bring people to that.”

    But she can’t help but include some less-seasonal tunes.

    “Classical music gives me an opportunity to show everything I’ve trained for,” she said.

    “It’s definitely more difficult and challenging. You
    really have to lay it on the line and give it everything you’ve got. I
    always try to throw in something classical because I really enjoy
    singing that genre.”

    She performed at the Lansing holiday pops series in 2008.

    “The orchestra, of course, is wonderful — top-notch. I
    work with lots of different conductors, but I particularly enjoy
    working with (Timothy Muffitt). He makes (me) feel very comfortable and
    at ease.”

    This year’s performance will also feature high school
    student musicians in a performance of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s
    “Nutcracker Suite.”

    Also featured is cellist Isabel Kwon, a student at Okemos
    High School and winner of this year’s Symphony Youth Competition. Kwon
    will be performing Antonin Dvorak’s “Silent Woods.”

    Lansing Symphony Orchestra and Diane Penning: Holiday Pops

    3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 11

    Cobb Great Hall,

    Wharton Center


    (517) 487-5001