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