Maestro Joseph Silverstein served up something old and something new for the holidays Friday night before a packed house in Abravanel Hall.

The "old," if you will, was some of the traditional Christmas trappings - music from "the Nutcracker" and several familiar Christmas tunes. And the new was "Santa Claus' Magic Voyage," by Anthony De Lorenzo followed after the break by a public performance by the West High School Choir, which itself has been making news recently. More about the choir later.Silverstein, decked out in velvet coat and a black and white cummerbund, led the orchestra through the first half of the program with his usual precision. From the opening "Joyeuse marche" to a very Russian "Christmas Eve: Polonaise" by Rimsky-Korsakov up until Santa's "voyage" before intermission, the symphony musicians glided easily under his baton. The strings, especially, held their own through the whole evening. And the horns were particularly refreshing during the military cadences of "March of the Toys" from "Babes in Toyland."

After intermission, harpist Heather Horne - a 17-year-old West High junior - performed "Aria in Classical Style." She was accompanied by a few violins and an oboist. She played evenly and confidently and did not get ahead of nor lag behind her conductor or accompanists.

The West High chorus, which had filed onto the stage after intermission, had to wait through one more orchestral number - "Dream Pantomime" from "Hansel and Gretel" - before it was their turn. Then it was the musicians' turn to listen to the a cappella voices.

Under the able direction of Richard Torgerson, the choir delighted and thrilled the audience. The students' diction was perfect, each word was enunciated clearly and crisply, as if the 130-plus voices spoke as one. And Torgerson didn't back down from his choir's "controversial" program. Each song was about the Savior, rejoicing in his birth - "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" and "Mary Had a Baby" - to praising his majesty in a stirring "Star of Bethlehem."

The performance earned the students and conductor a somewhat feeble standing ovation before Torgerson left the stage.

Silverstein returned to direct the orchestra and choir in Handel's "Hallelujah" chorus, and after "the Messiah stretch," as Silverstein called it, and "inspired by this wonderful chorus," he led the audience in a traditional Christmas carol sing-along.

Concluding the evening was the appearance of a "special visitor" who, though jingling and jangling and wishing everyone the merriest of Christmases, probably could have sung with the West High altos rather than in the bass section.

And the symphony closed out the night with a fast-paced "Sleigh Ride," before heading to the exits. A satisfying conclusion to an Abra-va-nel Christmas.

NOTE: Much of Friday's program will be repeated Saturday but with a different musical soloist, and the featured choir will be from Woods Cross High School.