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It's time once again to celebrate the joy of the season with Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra.

The symphony will present its annual "Holiday Pops" concert twice this year and in two locations. The concerts take place Dec. 13 at Monbeck Auditorium at Highland High School and Dec. 14 at The Auditorium at Valparaiso High School.

"One of the things I'm really looking forward to is going to all the new halls," said Kirk Muspratt, music director and conductor for Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra. With the closing of Star Plaza Theatre last year, the orchestra is now performing shows in different venues.

"The halls are very intimate and they'll allow the music to be very close to the audience," Muspratt said. The conductor said he's looking forward to the holiday show. During the concert, the orchestra will perform a diverse selection of tunes.

"And there's always Santa, we always have the chorus and we have singalongs," Muspratt said.

NISO's Holiday Pops concerts have long been a big draw for community music lovers. Featured on the Holiday Pops roster will be Munster High School Chorale, Northwest Indiana Suzuki School, The Symphony Chorus and tenor Jesse Donner.

"Everyone loved Jesse Donner last year," Muspratt said. Among tunes Donner will sing this year will be "Take My Hand Precious Lord" and "Ave Maria" by Schubert. He'll also perform the secular "Merry Christmas Baby."

The orchestra will play a mix of sacred and pop tunes during the holiday show. Also starring on the program will be music from "The Nutcracker" and "The Messiah." Muspratt said the symphony hasn't performed anything from "The Messiah" in four years. Audience members will be treated to "The Hallelujah Chorus" from "The Messiah."

Also performed will be "The Holy City," "What Child Is This," "Jingle Bells," "Do You Hear What I Hear?," "The Hanukkah Festival Overture" and more.

The conductor said the atmosphere of the annual "Holiday Pops" concerts is always very spirited. The shows appeal to all ages and he strives to include diverse songs on the program.

Guests attending the show may bring a donation of any non-perishable food item to the concert to benefit the Northwest Indiana Food Bank.

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Entertainment Editor/Features Reporter

Eloise is A&E Editor and a food, entertainment and features writer for The Times, subjects she has covered for over two decades in and around the Region. She was the youngest of eight in a Chicago household filled with fantastic cooks and artists.