Mannheim Steamroller brings Christmas cheer to Baltimore

The orchestra created by Chip Davis is on their yearly seasonal trek

Seeing Mannheim Steamroller Christmas live is to breathe a breath of “Fresh Aire” (pun intended) into the Christmas season.

The three-decade-long holiday tradition brought their 2022 tour to The Lyric Theatre in Baltimore on Sunday (Dec 4th). The “Red” touring troupe (noted with their holly-red vests and skirts) opened with a positively cheery “Joy to the World.”

“Greensleeves” featured gorgeous vocals via video by Elyse Davis, daughter of Mannheim Steamroller founder and iconic producer Chip Davis. Later on in the first act, a techno-spiced “Faeries” from The Nutcracker. The more rocking moments were punctuated with slower songs more traditionally-arranged for a new age orchestra.

“Catching Snowflakes on Your Tongue” and “O Little Town of Bethlehem” were musical reminders of the cozy moments that make the season so magical.

The band was tight. Six tail-clad members made up the road band. A wind section and string section were likely soured from the DMV (DC/Maryland/Virginia) area. (One clue: the strings were masked on stage.) But if true, one would never tell that this were the case. These consummate professionals came together to create a literal symphony.

The second half of the evening saw Mannheim greet us with “Morning,” a bright composition off their non-Christmas album Yellowstone: The Music of Nature. The album and two year tour supported conservation of Yellowstone National Park. Mannheim Steamroller’s efforts raised over $750,000.

The Christmas spirit remained full from then on, with fog returning to fill the stage floor and wintery images on the screen behind them.

Mannheim Steamroller’s modern takes on Christmas classics — as well as their original compositions — are inarguably timeless. This is because their layered music allows us to feel and experience all the textures of the holiday season.

“Deck the Halls” has become a signature song for Mannheim. During their faithful-to-the-recording live version, the screen displayed highlights from the group’s early success and current-day relevance. “We Three Kings” had an Arabian flair accented by images of sultans and camels throughout. And of course, Mannheim Steamroller ended the main set with a rousing “Carol of the Bells” that defied anyone to leave still in a Humbug mood!

This means, of course, that Mannheim Steamroller’s music is inescapable from November to January. As Red Troupe drummer Tom Sharpe told us on The Music Universe Podcast recently, “We are proud that our music has been part of people’ holiday traditions, even if they don’t know it’s us they are hearing.”

Matt Bailey
Matt Bailey

Matt Bailey is podcast producer and writer located in the Northeast. Since 2013, Bailey has produced more than 160 episodes of his own online radio show, Talk For Two. In 2016 alone, he interviewed Kevin Bacon, Crystal Gayle, Bob Barker, and Gilbert Gottfried, among several other stars. As a Correspondent for The Music Universe, his focus is Broadway, country music and concert reviews.