Gary Fry, composer

Gary Fry is an Emmy-winning composer, arranger, producer, conductor, and music educator. He has crafted music for recordings, films, commercials, publication, and live performance. Significant credits include his work as arranger/composer for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra‘s Welcome, Yule! holiday concerts for nearly 20 years, his current position as arranger/composer for the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra‘s Holiday Pops programs, artistic consultant to the Dallas Symphony Orchestra for their annual Christmas Celebration concerts, and over 100 commissions for Christmas and holiday music from those orchestras and others from around the nation. In addition, many universities and prominent churches have commissioned new Christmas compositions and arrangements from Gary.

Long one of the nation’s foremost commercial music producers, Gary has written and produced over 2500 nationally broadcast radio and television commercials for companies such as McDonald’s, Sears, United Airlines, Kellogg’s, the U.S. Air Force, and hundreds of other advertisers. He won an Emmy Award in 2006 for his original commercial music for WBBM-TV (Chicago). Recently, Gary orchestrated and conducted music for the PBS nature special To the Ends of the Earth.

This unique combination of symphonic skills and commercial experience has made him an in-demand music writer for organizations looking for the highest-quality compositions and arrangements that also appeal to a broad audience. His deep background in the recording studio and expertise in maximizing digital recording techniques has proven valuable to clients for CD production. Recently Gary produced and arranged an album for the United Nations entitled Ambassadors Sing for Peace (featuring ambassadors to the UN from several countries for whom he also acted as vocal coach). and a recording project for the UNRocks band (comprised of ambassadors) featuring Gary’s song “Strong UN, Better World.” A video for Ronald McDonald House Charities which Gary arranged and conducted (and featuring violinist Joshua Bell) has received nearly 750,000 views on YouTube (you can view it by clicking here).

Gary also has a passion for working with young people, particularly in choral music. Children’s choirs under his direction have performed at the White House, the United Nations, the Kennedy Center in Washington, and Carnegie Hall. He remains active as a clinician, lecturer, and conductor for ensembles in all levels of education from elementary schools to universities. Gary has served as Festival Artistic Director for the Friendship Ambassadors Foundation international choral festival “Rhythms of One World,” which features concerts at the United Nations general assembly halls in New York and Geneva as well as prestigious concert venues. The festival attracts choirs from around the world, and Gary writes and conducts the music for the choirs to perform together as a massed choir.

The Provision Theater in Chicago often utilizes Gary as a composer of music for the stage. He has written music for eight of their theatrical productions, including the Jeff-nominated Spoon River Anthology, was music director for the critically acclaimed Old Wicked Songs, and most recently provided music for Nicodemus​.

Gary and his wife Carol recently relocated to the Charlotte, NC, area, where two of their grown children live. Gary is also the father of Cody Fry, a Grammy-nominated, Nashville-based singer-songwriter and producer. To find out more about Cody, click here to visit


Find out more about Gary Fry by visiting his website

Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss, born Theodor Seuss Geisel, was a beloved American author and illustrator famous for his iconic children’s books. He was born on March 2, 1904, in Springfield, Massachusetts, and had a passion for drawing and storytelling from a young age.

After studying at Dartmouth College and Oxford University, he pursued advertising and created cartoons for magazines. Using his mother’s maiden name, “Seuss,” he adopted “Dr.” to imply an academic identity.

In 1937, he achieved fame with “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” the start of a prolific career. He wrote over 60 books, including classics like “The Cat in the Hat,” “Green Eggs and Ham,” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!”

Dr. Seuss’s books are known for their playful rhymes, quirky characters, and creative worlds, captivating readers of all ages.

He was an advocate for literacy, using his stories to promote education, social awareness, and environmental concerns. Dr. Seuss’s impact on children’s literature and popular culture is immeasurable. His books have been translated into many languages and adored worldwide.

Though he passed away on September 24, 1991, his legacy endures. His works continue to inspire and entertain readers globally. He remains one of the most cherished and celebrated authors in literary history.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Dr. Seuss’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” was published in 1957 and quickly became a holiday classic. The story revolves around the Grinch, a grouchy and mean creature who despises the Christmas festivities of the Whos in Whoville. In a plot to ruin their holiday spirit, the Grinch decides to steal all their Christmas presents, decorations, and even all the food. His ultimate goal is to prevent Christmas from coming at all.

In 1966, the story of the Grinch was adapted into a half-hour animated television special, titled “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” The special was produced by MGM Animation/Visual Arts and directed by Chuck Jones, an animation legend known for his work with Warner Bros. Looney Tunes.

Over the years, the cartoon has remained a staple of holiday programming, captivating audiences of all ages. It is a timeless message about the true spirit of Christmas. The redemption of the Grinch himself continues to resonate with viewers, making it one of the most loved holiday cartoons of all time.

In the decades since its release, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” has inspired various adaptations. The live-action film in 2000 starring Jim Carrey and the animated feature film in 2018 further solidified the Grinch’s place as a staple of the holiday season.

Albert Hague, composer

Albert Hague (born Albert Marcuse; October 13, 1920 – November 12, 2001) was a German-American composer, songwriter, and actor. He is best known for his work in musical theatre and his contributions to television.

Hague’s most famous work is the music he composed for the musical “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” which was based on the Dr. Seuss book of the same name. The musical adaptation was first presented as a television special in 1966, featuring the iconic song “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.”

In addition to his work on “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!,” Albert Hague also composed music for other musicals, films, and television shows. He won a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his performance in the musical “Redhead” in 1959. He also composed the music for the Broadway musical “Plain and Fancy” in 1955.

Hague did some acting, most notably on the TV series Fame, where he played Benjamin Shorofsky, the music teacher. He also played a small role in the movie Space Jam (1996), as the psychiatrist.

Hague’s contributions to the entertainment industry spanned several decades. His work continues to be celebrated, particularly during the holiday season when “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” is widely enjoyed by audiences of all ages.

Christmas Festival

Christmas Festival is a delightful medley arranged by the American composer Leroy Anderson. Anderson blends light classical music with popular and folk elements. He created Christmas Festival as a celebration of the Christmas season. The arrangement weaves together a variety of well-known Christmas songs. It is a musical journey that delights audiences.

The medley includes snippets from “Joy to the World,” “Deck the Halls,” “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen,” “Good King Wenceslas,” “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” “Silent Night,” and “Jingle Bells”. Anderson blends the tunes in a way that makes the piece a continuous and exuberant musical celebration.

The Christmas Festival has since become a beloved staple of holiday concerts and festive performances. It spreads joy and merriment to audiences of all ages.

A Child’s Christmas in Wales

A Child’s Christmas in Wales is a poetic and nostalgic work by Welsh poet Dylan Thomas. Thomas grew up in Wales during the early 20th century. The piece takes us on a journey through the poet’s memories of past Christmases. It highlights the joyous and heartwarming moments of the holiday season.

Thomas paints a picturesque scene of a traditional Welsh Christmas celebration. He shares anecdotes of family gatherings. There are memories of great meals, singing, and storytelling. You can feel a sense of warmth and togetherness. The poem has moments of humour and tender reflections. It’s the innocence and wonder of a festive season through a child’s eyes.

Thomas transports readers to snowy streets, warm houses, and the magical atmosphere of a winter wonderland. He evokes a sense of nostalgia and sentimentality. The playful language and whimsical imagery add to the enchanting ambience. It’s a poem for readers of all ages.

Join us in the Lobby

We have some treats for you in the lobby on December 9th!

Join us from 6:45-7:10 in the lobby for some carols with the low brass. It’s a fun holiday tradition featuring the low brass musicians who will be playing on stage at 7:30 and several fantastic musicians from the local music community.

Before the concert, during intermission, and after the show we will have chocolate from Harden & Huyse and incredible jewellery and ornaments created by artist Monique Martin for sale in the lobby. A portion of all sales go to support your SSO.

You can accomplish some holiday shopping at the concert, or just get a treat for yourself!

Join us at the Hub

The concert ends, you exit TCU Place, and you’re still brimming with excitement after such a fabulous evening. Where to next?

Cross the street and join us over at the Hub at Holiday Inn!

It’s the perfect place to grab a post-concert drink, and snack, alongside fellow SSO patrons, musicians, and the feature guest artists.

We have complimentary appetizers on a first come first-serve basis!


What’s happening at the Bassment

The Bassment is one of Canada’s premier jazz clubs and provides musicians of all skill levels a venue to showcase their talents in front of a live audience while accessing a variety of professional, concert-grade instruments. The club offers an intimate, personal concert space with a world-class stage for local, national, and international artists.

Here’s a sample of what’s happening next at The Bassment

Marianne Trudel & John Hollenbeck: Dédé Java Espiritu
Thursday, April 11


A piano, a drum set, and a thousand ideas. This is the happy and highly creative encounter ofpianist and composer Marianne Trudel with world-renowned drummer and composer John Hollenbeck. An electrifying, fascinating, enveloping duo, Dédé Java Espiritu plunges the listener into an infinite panorama of colours and grooves inspired by nature. Filled with catchy grooves, enchanting melodies, surprising sonorities, and joyous spontaneity, these compositions are rhythmically and melodically arranged to perfection.

Marianne Trudel is a veritable powerhouse in Canada’s jazz scene. She has produced and multiple artistic projects that showcase her considerable skills as well as her keen sense of creativity. Both energetic and passionate, her music covers a wide array of musical interests. Marianne has performed across North America, Europe, and China and has released 10 critically acclaimed recordings as a leader.

John Hollenbeck possesses a playful versatility and a virtuosic wit. Whether putting pen to paper or conjuring spontaneous sound allergic to repetition, he is essentially a musical thinker and is forever seeking to surprise himself and his audiences. John has received five GRAMMY nominations, a 2007 Guggenheim Fellowship, and is currently a member of the faculty at McGill University’s Schulich School of Music.

Sponsored by David’s Distinctive Men’s Apparel

Buy Tickets

Dallas Alexander
Thursday, April 18


Hailing from a rough-and-tumble backwoods upbringing in Fishing Lake Métis Settlement in Northern Alberta, Dallas Alexander weaves his Métis roots with stories amassed over a decade-plus career serving in a tier-one special operations unit in the Canadian military. Dallas serves up a unique sound and country music lovers are in for a gritty-outlaw vibe inspired by music legends Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash.

Sponsored by Black Fox Farm & Distillery

Buy Tickets

Abigail Lapell
Friday, April 19

SONGWRITER SERIES • DOORS @ 7:30pm • SHOW @ 8:30pm

Toronto songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Abigail Lapell returns with Anniversary, an evocative collection of original love songs produced by Great Lake Swimmers’ Tony Dekker. Lapell’s deft lyrics jostle with love song tropes, grappling with love’s finitude and the irony of how codependency and longing are revered in popular music. Balancing upbeat earworms with elegiac ballads, Anniversary ultimately emerges as an earnest celebration of commitment. A stellar cast of musicians rounds out Lapell’s powerhouse vocals, piano, harmonica and fingerstyle guitar. Anniversary is out May 10, 2024 on Outside Music.

Sponsored by Backyard Living Center

Buy Tickets

Claude Bourbon
Tuesday, April 23


Guitarist Claude Bourbon is known for his amazing performances that are a breathtaking acoustic fusion of blues, jazz, classical, and Spanish guitar. His inimitable style takes the acoustic guitar into uncharted territories, with all five digits on each hand dancing independently but in unison, plucking, picking, and strumming with such speed and precision that his fingers often merge into a blur. Having built up a following of loyal fans all over the United Kingdom, Europe, and North America, Claude returns for his fifth visit to the Bassment.

Sponsored by CFCR

Buy Tickets

Daniel Champagne
Wednesday, April 24


Daniel Champagne lives and breathes live music. Described as “a leading light in acoustic music”, Daniel picked up the guitar as a five-year-old following in the footsteps of his musical father. He began writing songs at 12, training classically throughout his teens and performing wherever he could. At 18 he finished school, turned professional, and hit the road. Since then Daniel has released seven studio albums, toured relentlessly around the globe playing some of the biggest festivals under the sun, and shared stages with the likes of Tommy Emmanuel, INXS, Lucinda Williams, and Judy Collins. His latest Canadian tour will include 56 shows from Vancouver Island to Newfoundland!

Sponsored by David’s Distinctive Men’s Apparel

Buy Tickets

The Mary Ancheta Quartet
Friday, April 26


Keyboardist Mary Ancheta is a Canadian Filipina artist who steps into the spotlight with her genre-bending organic, modern take on jazz and electro-funk. Inspired by the likes of Squarepusher, The Meters, John Scofield, and Prince, Ancheta knows what’s up when it comes to arresting melodies and irresistible grooves. Her quartet includes Trent Otter (drums), Dominic Conway (sax), and Matt Reid (bass). Encompassing her experience in film scoring Ancheta seeks to tap into raw fuelled moments favouring grittiness over perfection.

Sponsored by David’s Distinctive Men’s Apparel

Buy Tickets

Pfeffernusse with Margaret!

This post was created for our 2021 Holiday Pops. The recipe is so good, we couldn’t help but share it again!

Christmas is all about the music…but its really all about the baking!

Our Holiday Pops concert this year is special – its the first time we’ll have the full orchestra for our annual festive show in two years…so it feels like we’ve got everyone home for the holidays. It’s going to be a night filled with festive joy.

Last year we decided we would invite ourselves into the kitchen’s of our Principal Bassoonist and Director of Administration for some cookies and toffee, and this year we wanted to try something traditional. Margaret Wilson, the SSO’s Principal Clarinetist, had a family tradition of making pfeffernusse for Christmas and it seemed perfectly fitting for a Holiday Pops that feels like a family homecoming.

Margaret is no stranger to our annual Holiday Pops as she’s been our Principal Clarinetist for 45 seasons! To hear how excited she is for these new arrangements by Maria Fuller means that the concert is a festive treat.

Pfeffernusse is a traditional German cookie that is just the right blend of savory and a touch of sweet. They date all the way back to 1753 and have been part of Yuletide celebrations in Germany since 1850!

There’s even wonderful stories about the composer Felix Mendelssohn traveling a good distance just to get Pfeffernusse, writing: “I can’t conduct the Düsseldorf Music Festival because I have to rest and move to Soden, I’m going to Offenbach with Ms. Bernus to buy Pfeffernüsse.”


Let’s get started!

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds
  • 3/4 cup minced candied peel
  • 2 tsp. grated lemon peel
  • 3 cups (approximately – probably less) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 cup rum or brandy
  • powdered sugar

l. Beat eggs and sugar with electric mixer in large bowl until thick and lemon coloured. Stir in almonds, candied peel and grated lemon peel

2. Sift together approximately ll112 cups cups of flour with the cinnamon, ginger, pepper and cloves. Stir into egg mixture and keep adding more flour until dough almost cleans side of bowl.

3. Knead on lightly floured surface, adding as much flour as needed until smooth – about 1 minute.

4. Divide dough in half: shape each half into log 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Refrigerate wrapped in plastic wrap at least one hour.

5. Cut logs into 3/4 inch thick slices: round edges slightly. Place slices on greased or parchment lined baking sheets. Let stand at room temperature overnight.

6. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Turn cookies over. Bake until centres are firm to the touch and tops are golden – approximately 20 minutes.

7. Transfer to wire racks. Brush cookies generously with rum or brandy; sprinkle generously with powdered sugar. Cool completely. Texture and flavour improve if allowed to age in airtight container 1 to 2 weeks.

Margaret’s secret tip: Although the original recipe calls for the spices to be sifted into the 3 cups of flour, I have never been able to work in that much flour. That is why I put the spices into less flour to start and then work in as much flour as need – usually about 2 1/4 – 2 l/2 cups.

Time to get your baking hat on!