The Really Terrible Orchestra Of the Trianglehas been the victim of palpable, perhaps even actionable, slander. Various “experts” (you know who you are) have alleged that RTOOT is just a fifth-rate music ensemble. The audience at the fine old Garner Historic Auditorium could readily refute that notion: RTOOT can easily qualify as a fourth-rate ensemble. “Heedless of the wind and weather,” a goodly crowd showed up for a festive celebration of the Christmas season, hoping for a modicum of music, which is exactly what they received. The Really Terrible Orchestra Of the Triangle called the proceedings not a program but a “Programme,” thus contributing a bit of high-brow tone to an evening of a decidedly different brow level.

My Strow Sandy Hobgood led the players in a nice mix of the favorites and the not so. A major offering was selections from Rachmaninoff’s “Variations on a Paganini Theme.” Their treatment of the most familiar one of these variations was so pleasing as to border on genuine respectability. Hobgood sometimes utilized guest conductors. For the “Marche Heroique” of Saint-Saëns he summoned Super My Strow, who bore a striking resemblance to plain My Strow. But S-M-S was festooned in blue body suit, red boots and cape, and plenty of bombast for the he-man persona. What is the opposite of “made a dashing figure”?

Excerpts from Rossini’s opera, The Italian Girl in Algeria, elicited solo work from the woodwinds of such quality that one assumed they were unannounced guest artists. Leopold Mozart’s “Toy Symphony” featured a collection of birds, some of which sounded not long for this world.

Leroy Anderson’s obligatory “Sleigh Ride” was distinctly identifiable as such, with good sound effects. It led into the featured work of the evening, the World Premiere of RTOOT cellist Hampton Carmine’s “Concert Waltz.” This piece for strings, mellifluous and redolent of old Vienna, received a loving treatment by the players. They honored their colleague by presenting to him an affectionate plaque signed by all the members.

It should be noted that each and every piece was preceded by spoken commentary, thus ensuring that the audience always knew when the players went from one piece to the next. Closing the proceedings was a sing-a-long of six Christmas songs, arranged for the orchestra by My Strow.

RTOOT is again supporting Toys for Tots, with the goal “to help others avoid a Really Terrible holiday season.” For that effort they should be vigorously applauded. The many intrepid souls who braved the deep freeze of downtown Garner were treated to a genuine warmth in spirit. What could be better than a great venue, great fun, great fellowship, and, uh, music?