ALBANY — An Albany holiday tradition returns this year but with a touch of the new ... call it a “peppermint twist.”

The Albany Symphony Orchestra will present two performances of the traditional holiday musical “Peppermint Pops” on Dec. 14, but this year the popular musical treat will feature the Engelbert Humperdinck score for the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tale “Hansel and Gretel.”

Tickets are on sale now by phone at (229) 430-8933, online at or at the Symphony offices at 308 Flint Ave.

“Peppermint Pops is a staple in the community, but we decided to make a bit of a change this year,” Symphony Executive Director Joelle Fryman said Monday. “In performing ‘Hansel and Gretel,’ we saw this as the perfect opportunity to come together and work with other community partners. So this is about a traditional holiday performance with some community-building as a bonus.”

The orchestra will be joined by artists from Albany State and Georgia Southwestern State universities and by members of Ballet Theatre South for the two performances, which will be held at 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. at Albany State’s West Campus Theater.

The 11 a.m. performance, Fryman noted, will be preceded at 10 a.m. by ASO’s popular Instrument Petting Zoo, which is free to the public. Kids and families are welcome to talk with members of the orchestra about their instruments and get an up-close-and-personal look at them, along with a mini-tutorial on the instruments.

“That’s always a lot of fun, for the kids and for the orchestra members,” Fryman said.

A “truncated” performance of “Hansel and Gretel,” geared more toward youngsters and families, will follow the Petting Zoo. The full-on performance, which tells the story — musically — of a young brother and sister who are kidnapped but escape by outwitting an evil witch living in a house made of cake, confectionery and candy, will be held later in the evening.

A pre-concert “Know the Score” conversation with Conductor Claire Fox Hillard will he held at 6:30 p.m., and a post-concert “Conductor’s Circle” reception will immediately follow the evening performance.

“By including other arts groups in the community, we hope that we’ll help bring everyone a little closer,” Fryman said. “What better time to work on bringing us all closer together than the holidays? So we’re hoping Peppermint Pops will be an even bigger seasonal treat this year.”

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