Hamilton ON – The Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra sets the stage for the holiday season as we present Home for the Holidays on Saturday December 20 at 7:30pm in FirstOntario Concert Hall (formerly Hamilton Place). Led by Guest Conductor Martin MacDonald, the Hamilton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra joins the HPO in a festive program featuring Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite and a carol sing-along of holiday favourites. We are thrilled to perform Composer-in-Residence Abigail Richardson-Schulte’s musical adaption of The Hockey Sweater alongside the narration of the popular story’s author, Roch Carrier.

The first half of the program brings the hockey arena to the stage with Composer-in-Residence Abigail Richardson-Schulte’s The Hockey Sweater. Performed by major orchestras throughout Canada, this is the first time the HPO presents this nationally acclaimed work by our own resident composer. Richardson-Schulte employs nontraditional yet playful elements throughout her work to musically tell the story of The Hockey Sweater.  A hockey scrimmage and shouting musicians onstage are just some of the ways Richardson-Schulte creates a sound world for this beloved children’s narrative. “I wanted to capture the devastation of receiving the wrong sweater in the mail, and when [Roch] opens the box and lifts the hockey sweater out, we have the most terrible sound from the orchestra. His world is ending, it’s huge,” says Richardson-Schulte. Musicians give their tuxes a rest and done their favourite hockey jerseys for the performance. To top it all off, Roch Carrier narrates his story alongside Richardson-Schulte’s musical adaptation.

Roch Carrier’s The Hockey Sweater is considered an iconic work of Canadian literature.  He was commissioned by the CBC to write an essay about French/English relations following the Quiet Revolution in Quebec. Carrier struggled to address the topic and began thinking of his childhood in Sainte-Justine. Instead of an essay, The Hockey Sweater was born as he recalled his personal experience as a fan of the Montreal Canadiens, and how he mistakenly received a Toronto Maples Leafs jersey from an Eaton’s catalogue.

The Hamilton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and the HPO lead audiences in a sing-along to festive favourites and together play Tchaikovsky’s most celebrated holiday work, the Nutcracker Suite. The HPO also performs a cornucopia of traditional holiday fare including Leroy Anderson’s light orchestral piece Sleigh Ride, the perennial favourite Skater’s Waltz and the contemporary classic Suite from The Polar Express.

Martin MacDonald is one of Canada’s most dynamic and outstanding young conductors of his generation. In 2013-14, MacDonald made his conducting debut with the National Arts Centre Orchestra and Orchestra London. He currently serves as Associate Conductor of Symphony Nova Scotia.


HPO Holiday Events

Free Holiday Concert at the Hamilton Public Library
Friday, December 5 at 12pm

The HPO presents our annual Holiday Concert at the Hamilton Public Library featuring our Brass Quintet in Christmas and holiday favorites as part of our lunchtime program series. Audiences are welcome to bring their friends and lunches to enjoy this joyful holiday tradition.

HWDSB Students join the HPO’s Rehearsal with Roch Carrier
Friday, December 19 at 11:30pm

The HPO invites elementary schools within HWDSB and their students in grades 4 – 6 to an exclusive rehearsal experience with children’s author Roch Carrier. Encouraged to wear their favoruite hockey jerseys, students who have read The Hockey Sweater as part of their curriculum have the opportunity to experience the HPO perform Richardson-Schulte’s musical adaptation with Roch Carrier narrating his story.

Meet and Greet with Roch Carrier
Saturday, December 20 at 10am

The HPO in partnership with Bryan Prince Bookseller celebrate 30 Years of The Hockey Sweater in words and music. Join special guests Roch Carrier and HPO Composer-in-Residence Abigail Richardson Schulte for a family-friendly reading of The Hockey Sweater and a Q & A with composer and author.


Ticket Information

Single tickets for Home for the Holidays are $23 to $67 (plus applicable taxes and fees) and are available online at staginghpo.wpengine.com, by calling 905.526.7756 or in person at the HPO Box Office in FirstOntario Concert Hall (formerly Hamilton Place) at 10 MacNab Street South or FirstOntario Concert Hall (formerly Hamilton Place) Box Office the evening of the concert.

Special hpoGO tickets for the under 35 crowd are $17 (plus applicable taxes and fees) and can be purchased online, over the phone, or in person.  To receive special discounts and invitations to special events, under 35 patrons can sign up online at staginghpo.wpengine.com.

Reserve your Table before the Concert

The HPO’s Dinner and a Concert program offers patrons the opportunity to enjoy a three-course, prix fixe meal at a partnering restaurant within half a kilometre of FirstOntario Concert Hall (formerly Hamilton Place).  Each package includes a meal at partnering restaurants and a ticket to the performance.  Call the HPO Box Office at 905.526.7756 to reserve your table.

Sláinte Irish Pub – $49
33 Bowen St.

Incognito Restaurant & Wine Bar – $59
93 John St. S.

The Hamilton Club – $79
6 Main St. E


Media Contact: Diana Weir, Partnerships Manager | Tel: 905.526.1677 x230 | Email: dweir@hpo.org

The Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra was founded in 1884 as The Hamilton Orchestral Society and grew to become one of Canada’s major professional orchestras. Today, the HPO is a leader in Hamilton’s robust arts community where it provides professional orchestral services and music education programs to address the needs of the community. The HPO continues to commission and premiere works and is one of the artistic jewels of the Hamilton area. The combined musical talents of its artists continue to enrich the community and enhance the quality of life for its residents.