It's that time of year again. 

The Conway Symphony Orchestra will present its annual Christmas performance, "A Mad Russian’s Christmas," starting with the Nutcracker Sweets, which gives children an opportunity to meet the ballerinas, enjoy treats and participate in fun craft activities, all things Nutcracker.

The event, $5 for children and free for adults, will go from 6-7 p.m. in Brewer-Hegeman, next to Reynolds Performance Hall on the University of Central Arkansas campus.  

Following, guests will begin filing into the performance hall to hear all kinds of holiday favorites from the orchestra, led by conductor Israel Getzov, at 7:30 p.m. 

"[Getzov] will lead the first half of the concert in an exciting performance of Christmas favorites [like], 'Sleigh Ride' and excerpts from the Nutcracker ballet," a CSO news release states. "The ballet will be performed alongside the Arkansas Festival Ballet under the direction of Rebecca Stalcup in a wondrous winter showcase of dance and music."

During the intermission, Santa will also be in the lobby for photos. 

After, concertgoers will experience a shift from the traditional tunes as a 10-person rock ensemble takes the stage to perform, "screaming Van Halen-esque guitar solos," with selections from Paul O'Neill's Trans-Siberian Orchestra, according to CSO officials, accompanied with a "face-melting" light show.

“This concert is going to be a contrast between the traditional and nontraditional, and we are thrilled to present the 10th anniversary between the Conway Symphony Orchestra and the Arkansas Festival Ballet," Getzov said. "The second half of our concert is something Conway has never seen before; a classic rock concert featuring the music of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra."

The conductor said the CSO has such great interest in the new format, they are "almost guaranteed" to sell out. 

Many Facebook users have taken to the social media platform to encourage others to purchase tickets to the annual holiday event. 

"If you're smart, you will go ahead and buy tickets for this holiday musical treat," one user wrote. 

Another said they were "so excited," to attend the "rock + orchestra" experience. 

"Join the Conway Symphony Orchestra as they take their Christmas performance to new heights," the CSO website reads. "See Tchaikovsky’s legendary Nutcracker Ballet unlike ever before and get ready to have your faces melted by the lights [and] the theatrics."

A Mad Russian’s Christmas is sponsored by Conway Corp and Palmer Music Co.

Tickets range from $25-$45 and can be purchased at the box office, at 501-450-3265, or at www.ConwaySymphony.org.

Staff writer Hilary Andrews can be reached at handrews@thecabin.net

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