Randall Craig Fleischer returns to Washington where he and the NSO Pops Orchestra have prepared a holiday program filled with songs and surprises. These concerts will reverberate throughout the Kennedy Center Concert Hall for four days of celebration to welcome Santa and some other very special guests guaranteed to thrill the expectant audience.

"The New York Voices will be joining us to do what they do best," Fleischer said. "The quartet is famous for singing jazz and swing and will bring their wonderful style to swing versions of holiday numbers. I've really enjoyed working on the first rate orchestrations by Darmon Meader, their top arranger and the leader of the group. My dad was a drummer in a swing band, so I grew up on swing music and will have fun conducting the NSO in these great arrangements.

"This concert has music for everyone. There are too many numbers to mention them all, but one of the orchestra's favorite is Leroy Anderson's 'Sleigh Ride.' The sing-along will include 'Deck the Halls,' 'Silent Night' and several others favorites. All the verses are printed in the program, so nobody has to bone up on them in advance. Because I'm Jewish and I want to make sure my people are represented, a klezmer-sounding clarinet solo will add Hasidic flavor."

Fleischer always enjoys returning to conduct the NSO at the Kennedy Center and Wolf Trap. A former student of Leonard Bernstein, he spent five years from 1990 to 1995, first as the NSO assistant conductor, then as the associate conductor. That very first year, he conducted Mstislav Rostropovich performing Dvorak's Cello Concerto during the orchestra's tour of the USSR and Japan. The importance of the event echoed throughout the international press, for it was the first time Rostropovich had played in Russia since his exile in 1972. Additionally, it singled out Fleischer as an outstanding conductor on his way up.

Happy Holidays with the NSO Pops
Where: Kennedy Center Concert Hall, 2700 F Street NW
When: 7 p.m. Thursday and Sunday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Info: $20 to $85; 202-467-4600; 800-444-1324; kennedy-center.org

An avid champion of every musical genre, Fleischer has worked with such distinctive artists as John Densmore of the Doors, Blondie, Peter Schickele, Kenny Rogers, America, Richie Havens, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and many others. His quest for fun, joy and opportunities to experiment is reflected in all he does. Currently, he is music director/conductor of three orchestras: the Anchorage Symphony, the Hudson Valley Philharmonic and the Youngstown Symphony.

Despite being a busy man, Fleischer is ready for this week. "I'll enjoy the holiday festivities at the Kennedy Center, conducting the NSO again and listening to the dazzling performances of the New York Voices."