Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Holidays are upon us

The Holiday concert season has ended. Hopefully you enjoyed at least one concert of Holiday music. I know that all the volunteer members of all these different groups enjoyed performing the music for their audiences.

Just a short note about the Horns A Plenty Christmas concert in Appleton on Saturday the 20th. Mother Nature was not as kind to the event as a nasty storm came through southern Wisconsin on Friday and a second one on Saturday afternoon. As a result, not as many horn players joined in the fun as last year. But it was a large and appreciative crowd who witnessed the concert. Kudos to all who played, especially the soloist, Dr. Bruce Atwell from UW-Oshkosh. And by the way, the concert was very nice.

One other interesting thing to report about the concert: there will be a Horns A Plenty Christmas Concert next year in Appleton AND in South Dakota. The group is trying to nationalize this holiday treat Ala Tuba Christmas. So, for you blog readers in South Dakota, I'll keep you informed!

But even though the formal concerts have completed, there is still community music for you to enjoy. Whatever religious celebration you keep, there will most likely be music. Whether it be a brass or woodwind group, small orchestra, or choir alone, these musicians are using their talents to make the celebration even more festive and joyous. That is what community music is all about. So enjoy the music, the celebration, just enjoy it all! And if you do not keep any religious festivals this time of year, have a nice day!

I'm going to take some time off from posts. I'll begin posting about the spring season of concerts around January 3rd or 4th. Until then, all the very best to you and yours!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Two more Holiday Concerts

Reminder: The Milwaukee Festival Brass Christmas Concert is this afternoon at 3 PM in Schwan Concert Hall on the campus of Wisconsin Lutheran College, about 88th and Wisconsin.

Two more concerts are coming up in this Holiday season and they both look like a lot of fun.

The first is in Wauwatosa. The Wauwatosa Community Band presents Christmas On Broadway, combining the sounds of the season with music from some wonderful Broadway Shows. The concert begins at 7:30 this Tuesday December 16th at Longfellow Middle School in Wauwatosa, the corner of 76th Street and North Avenue. Tickets are $5, $3 for seniors and students and can be purchased at the door.

Some of the Broadway shows represented include Phantom of the Opera, Fiddler on the Roof, and West Side Story. The Christmas music includes one of my classical favorites, the Troika from Prokofiev's Lt. Kije Suite, as well as Leroy Anderson's Christmas Festival, maybe one of the best medley's of Christmas music written for band. (If you're not familiar with this arrangement, I have one thing to suggest for you listen for. Toward the end of the piece, Anderson completes Jingle Bells and goes into O Come All Ye Faithful. But if you listen carefully, you'll hear the low brass performing Faithful, and the trumpets (in the background) continuing on Jingle Bells. In fact, Anderson used the Jingle Bells rhythm in the background during the big ending. And yet it works...wonderfully! Keep an ear out for that one!

The second concert is Horns A Plenty Christmas performed by the Fox Valley Horn Choir, Saturday December 20th in Appleton, at the City Center Plaza Mall, 200 East Washington Street, across and up the street from the Paper Vally Hotel. The concert begins at 1 PM and if you would like to sit and listen to the concert, be sure to BRING YOUR OWN CHAIR! The chairs that the mall has will be used for the nearly 100 French Horn players who will perform. They literally take up the entire center court of the mall!

This concert was a big success last year, not only for the wonderful music, but also because the Fox Valley Horns set a Guinness World Record for the number of horn players performing in a Christmas Concert. This year they intend to break their own record.

And the concert will have a special guest. Bill Barnewitz from the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra will be there, and will bring copies of his CD, proceeds of which benefit research on Parkinson's Disease. Wonderful music, a CD that would make a great stocking stuffer, all a few days before Christmas. It doesn't get any better than that.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Upcoming concerts

Before I get into the upcoming concerts, just a reminder that the Menomonee Falls Symphony Orchestra is performing their Sing Along Messiah this afternoon at 2 PM in St. Sebastian Church. Time to warm up the vocal chords!

There are two concerts coming up to tell you about. The first concert is Friday December 12th at Shattuck Auditorium on the campus of Carroll University in Waukesha. The Waukesha Area Symphonic Band will present their annual concert of Holiday favorites. The neat thing about this concert is that it features many small ensembles from the band. The last one I attended included music by a brass choir, a flute choir, a woodwind group, and the full band. So, you'll get to hear familiar music in new settings. In the spirit of the season, the $5 admission will be waived if you bring in 5 non-perishable food items for the Waukesha Food Pantry. For more information, please call 262/370-6129.

The second concert is Sunday December 14th featuring the Milwaukee Festival Brass. The concert will commence at 3 PM in the Schwan Concert Hall on the campus of Wisconsin Lutheran College. Dr. Pat Backhaus has planned a very nice Holiday concert, featuring some familiar and some less familiar music.

Their performance of Silent Night will feature Flugelhorn and Tenor Horn players Brian Bolling and Lonna Brooks. For something less familiar, there is Nigel Horn's arrangement of The Boar's Head Carol. Solo E-flat tuba player, Rafael Petrie Da'vila will be featured on Remembrance by Barton Cummings.

The centerpiece of this concert sets the tone of an ancient British court where feasts and music abounded. It is Ralph Vaughan Williams' Henry V and contains The Agincourt Hymn remembering Henry's victory at the city of the same name and a paraphrase of William Byrd's Earl of Oxford's March.

Dr. Pat also hints that there may be some surprises as well.

Both of these concerts will be lots of fun. They will get you in the mood for the Holidays, and get your mind off the snow shoveling!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Holiday Concert Calendar and More!

The Holiday season is upon us! In this post I have the schedule of all the Holiday concerts that I am aware of. If you have one that I do not, add a comment with that information, so that we all can have a complete calendar.

But before the calendar, here is some very neat news. Last Holiday season, the Saturday before Christmas, the Fox Valley Horn Choir performed in Appleton. They invited horn players from around the state to join them. Their goal was 100 players, but they were a bit shy of that goal...they had 87 players performing. However, the list and pictures were sent in to the Guinness World Records organization anyway.

The director, Don Krause (hrntchr on U-Tube), received a reply from the Guinness people a few weeks ago. The Guinness people have recognized last December's performance as the largest Horn Choir performing Christmas Music and have sent a certificate of achievement. Congratulations to all of the performers. And be sure to set your calendar for Saturday December 20th at the College Avenue Mall in Appleton for this year's concert, where we may see a new record! Here's the link to their web site for more information:

And before that, the Horn Choir is performing this Thursday the 4th with the Fox Valley Symphony for their Holiday Pops concert. Here's the link for more information:

One more honor for the Fox Valley Horn Choir: they have been invited to play at the 2009 International Horn Society Symposium in June to be held at Western Illinois University. Quite the honor, congratulations!

Finally, here is the Holiday Concert Calendar, all dates in December. Be sure to add a comment if I missed one that you know of. Thanks.

7 - Menomonee Falls Symphony perform the Sing Along Messiah at St. Sebastian's Church in Milwaukee at 2 PM
12 - Waukesha Area Symphonic Band performs their Christmas Concert at 7:30 at Shattuck Auditorium
14 - Milwaukee Festival Brass perform O Christmas Brass at 3 PM in the Schwan Concert Hall
14 - Lakeshore Symphonic Band perform their Christmas Concert at 7:30 PM at the Basilica of Holy Hill in Hubertus
14 - Milwaukee American Legion Band performs their Christmas Concert at 3 PM at Milwaukee Lutheran High School
16 - The Wauwatosa Community Band performs their Christmas Concert at 7:30 PM at Longfellow Middle School
20 - Horns A Plenty Christmas in the College Avenue Mall in Appleton at 1 PM. Bring your own chair, the place gets crowded.

Happy Holidays!