Lake Highlands definitely has made its mark on this year’s Dallas Symphony Orchestra Christmas concert.

David Davidson, the concert’s conductor, has lived in Lake Highlands for more than 20 years. Patrick Mahurin, a member of the Children’s Chorus, attends Forest Meadow Junior High. The show’s stage director, Robert Emery, grew up in our neighborhood, graduating from Lake Highlands High School in 1978. And several members of the orchestra call Lake Highlands home.

This will be the 10th year for Davidson to conduct the concert. Also director of music and art at Highland Park United Methodist Church and director of the Dallas Symphony Chorus, Davidson became the conductor of the Christmas concert by accident. Ten years ago, on the night of a performance, he was home eating tortilla soup in jeans. He received a call at 6:30 p.m. saying the conductor was sick and that he, Davidson, was doing the show. He arrived at 7:15 for an 8 p.m. performance and has been conducting the annual event since.
“I absolutely love this (concert),” Davidson says. “We bring a lot of joy to 20,000 people.”

Emery, a freelance artist who produces shows, began staging the concert three years ago. He works with about 300 performers, and rehearses the singers separately for a month before the show, while Davidson works with the orchestra. They have only two full rehearsals with all the singers and orchestra before the show premieres. Emery pulls it all together — songs, lighting, costumes and staging.

Emery earned his theater chops in Lake Highlands during junior and high school. He has been producing and directing shows in Dallas ever since he received a master’s degree in theater from Texas State University.

“My mother used to say, ‘I hate not seeing you on stage,” Emery says. “I am on stage. I’m everywhere — in the lights, the costumes, the lines they say.”

This also will be Mahurin’s third year to sing in the Children’s Chorus in the show. The seventh-grader, who began singing in his church’s choir at the age of 4, has performed in several productions of the Dallas Opera and is also a member of Sound Express at Forest Meadow Junior High.

“In our career, he is one of those young men you celebrate,” Davidson says. “He has a natural talent. He loves it. He does it because he loves it. He’s one of those shining stars.”

When Mahurin performs, he tries to connect with one or two people in the audience, singing just to them. He says it’s his gift to them during the holiday season.

And Davidson and Emery feel the same way. They work to make the show as special as possible to everyone.

“I just love Christmas,” Emery says. “I’m a big softy for Christmas. I have five Christmas trees. So doing Christmas for the city, I just love it.”

Joy! with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra
when/ Thursday, Dec. 13 through Sunday, Dec. 23; 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 13-15, 17-18 and 20-22, 2:30 p.m. on Dec. 16 and 22-23
where/ The Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center
cost/ $15-$105
for more information/ 214.692.0203 or dallassymphony.com