Almost any task can be made festive with the simple touch of a holiday soundtrack. For Lyman Briggs sophomore Jill Nelson and her mom, the Christmas music associated with their annual cookie baking is Mannheim Steamroller.
“My mom and I both love (Mannheim Steamroller),” she said. “We listen to them every year while baking Christmas cookies because it gets us in the holiday spirit and keeps our energy up to finish the job.”
Mannheim Steamroller performed a completely sold-out Christmas concert at Wharton Center Cobb Great Hall at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Nelson said she knew the show would sell out because of the band’s appeal to both students and alumni.
“They take the classics and give them a heavier beat, combining the classic melody with an upbeat tempo,” she said. “This is a good way to appeal to all ages because older people will resonate with the tradition but the younger generations will resonate with the rhythm.”
The band’s approach to modern electronic and classic orchestra has contributed to the immense fan base, but Wharton Center Public Relations Manager Bob Hoffman said Tuesday’s show sold out more so because of Mannheim Steamroller’s well-known reputation. The group, founded by Chip Davis more than 25 years ago, has sold about 27 million Christmas records.
“(Selling out) didn’t take very long,” Hoffman said. “Within a couple of weeks of it being announced, it was sold out, which is typical.”
According to Hoffman, Mannheim Steamroller’s East Lansing performances have historically received positive reviews, but holiday concerts are often successful this time of year. Recently, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, or TSO, performed a sold-out show at Breslin Center.
Hoffman said though TSO and Mannheim Steamroller might be considered similar artists, one performance didn’t steal the spotlight from the other.
“I think that people love both of them, so I don’t think they hindered each other, (but) maybe helped each other,” he said. “They’re both light shows and electronic music; they’re fun.”
Spanish junior Zach Mann said the show might be more popular this year than in years prior.
“I think that, especially this year, people are getting into the Christmas spirit more,” Mann said. “I usually start listening to Christmas music as soon as December comes around, but this year, I was listening to Christmas music before Thanksgiving.”
Hoffman said Mannheim Steamroller recently has gained more attention than usual because of increased radio exposure. But when it comes down to it, he said the band’s success is rooted in the love of Christmas.
“If you like Christmas, that’s kind of it,” he said. “If you like Christmas, you like Christmas music. … It’s fun. (Mannheim Steamroller is) Christmas songs on steroids.”