Salisbury Press

Wednesday, October 23, 2019
CONTRIBUTED PHOTOJim Brickman,”A Joyful Christmas,” 7:30 p.m. Dec. 21, Miller Symphony Hall, Allentown. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOJim Brickman,”A Joyful Christmas,” 7:30 p.m. Dec. 21, Miller Symphony Hall, Allentown.

Jim Brickman brings joyful exchange to Miller Symphony Hall

Thursday, December 20, 2018 by STEPHEN ALTHOUSE Special to The Press in Focus

‘Tis the season that piano sensation Jim Brickman hits the road.

The Grammy-nominated pianist understands that being a successful entertainer is about more than creating captivating and beautiful music. Brickman’s easy as Sunday morning style resonates with his audience and it’s part of the reason they keep coming around for more.

Brickman’s 30-city United States holiday tour, “A Joyful Christmas,” lands at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 21 at Miller Symphony Hall, Allentown.

“I’m really conscious of what people want to hear,” says Brickman in a phone interview. “Let me put it like this. I have the same taste in music as my audience and if I wasn’t me, I would go to my show.”

Brickman describes his tour as a “joyful exchange” between himself and the audience. Many in attendance, he says, find his concert almost therapeutic and an opportunity to ponder subjects such as faith, love, family and unity.

“I really want to let the music breathe and allow the audience to take it in,” he says. “I’ve always loved Christmas music. This is my favorite time of the year.”

This is the 22nd year Brickman has done a Christmas tour and he says it hasn’t grown stale. The tour has slowly evolved over the years, yet has retained its ability for the audience to celebrate the season in a simplistic yet profound way.

The entertainer uses his mastery of the piano keyboard, his wit, charm and guile to blend yuletide memories with traditional carols, while also incorporating his own compositions such as “If You Believe,” “Angel Eyes,” “Sending You A Little Christmas” and “The Gift.”

Brickman is comfortable in his own skin and doesn’t concern himself too much whether some view his sentimentality for Christmas music as “uncool.” The songs are very much part of our lives, he notes. More than that, they allow people to connect with something that these days isn’t always in vogue.

“There is definitely some fear out there right now,” Brickman says. “But this music, in many ways, is a celebration.”

Brickman says that during the concert his audience should take it easy, relax and enjoy his music however they wish. “They shouldn’t have to work at it while they are here,” he notes.

He doesn’t only display his considerable music talent during the concert, he also serves as the evening’s emcee. This allows him to interject stories, humor and even some cornball humor.

“I like to leave the audience with a little laughter along with musical holiday spirit,” Brickman says. “It’s a gathering. It’s an exchange.”

He’s not alone on stage in providing that exchange. Like members of his extended family, Brickman once again welcomes vocalist Anne Cochran and electric violinist Tracy Silverman on the tour.

“It’s almost as though the audience expects them and would be disappointed if they weren’t there,” he says.

Brickman’s rise to world-renowned pianist started simply as a young boy captivated by the power of music and melodies.

“I was always drawn to music,” he recalls. “It really just connected with me. It really took me places and it felt right.”

Those feelings have made him one of the best-selling solo pianists of the last quarter century, garnering 32 Top 20 radio singles on the Billboard charts. In addition to the two Grammy nominations, he’s received gospel music’s Dove Award, two SESAC Songwriter of the Year Awards, and the Canadian Country Music Award.

So while he has done it all, he still likes to do his Christmas show each year.

“The show is traditional and familiar, but it’s not ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’ front to back,” Brickman says. “There is sentimentality and there is humor.”

Maybe he’s not Santa Claus, but it’s the season to be jolly and that means Jim Brickman is most definitely coming to town.

Tickets: Miller Symphony Hall box office, 23 N. Sixth St., Allentown; allentownsymphony.org; 610-432-6715