39. Music to Celebrate Christmas and the Holiday Spirit
The local music community has already witnessed three great triumphs this December. First, on Thursday the 4th, violinist Lin He and guitarist Jay Kacherski presented a superb duo recital of music by Niccolò Paganini, Manuel de Falla, and Astor Piazzolla as the fourth concert in the Abendmusik Alexandria series “Popular Inspirations.” Mr. He also gave a touching rendition of the theme from Schindler’s List as a tribute to his teacher of twelve years who passed away two days earlier. There are plenty of great images from this concert at the Arts Council’s Facebook page, compliments of JB Photo Studios.
On Sunday, the Rapides Symphony Orchestra gave their annual holiday concert. Maestro Zona and the members of his brass section started things with an incredible call-and-response fanfare by the Italian Baroque master Giovanni Gabrieli. Later, the full orchestra played a medley of Hanukah music; although the music was less familiar to me than the Christmas tunes, it was a fitting acknowledgement of another holiday celebrated this time of year. A special part of this concert was the inclusion of John De Chiaro as the featured soloist for both a guitar concerto by Antonio Vivaldi and an encore by the Spanish composer Fernando Sor. De Chiaro who, in recent months has been a crucial part of Abendmusik, has also been directing the Alexandria Youth Orchestra for several years, bringing music to the students of Central Louisiana. He would be back on stage with this group Tuesday night demonstrating that his kids could really play too. In addition to all the great music this group of youngsters played – including a fascinating rendition of Carol of the Bells – part of the spectacle was seeing the line formed on stage as De Chiaro tuned each of the younger children’s instruments before the concert. We can be confident that under De Chiaro’s direction our community’s future musicians have been well-molded.
In the next week, there will be four more musical occasions not to be missed. Each has a Christmas or Holiday theme starting with the Red River Chorale’s concert Celebrating Christmas on Tuesday, December 16. This concert will feature the local chorus singing the music of J. S. Bach, Dieterich Buxtehude (a mentor to Bach), John Rutter, and others. Plus, there will be holiday favorites like “O Come, All Ye Faithful.”
Thursday, December 18 two events will illuminate the night. Jazzy Christmas will be at Coughlin-Saunders Performing Arts Center that evening. This holiday tradition features the tremendously-talented local jazz band known as the ASAPH Project led by saxophonist Henry Williams. He and his group will present Christmas music in a smooth jazz style, and – for fans of jazz artists like Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock – this is one of those occasions not to be missed. I was in attendance at last year’s Jazzy Christmas, and was simply blown away.
Thursday the 18th also features Holiday Expressions at AMoA! This night at the Alexandria Museum of Art features holiday music by the past year’s AMoA Acoustic Concert Series performers. Holiday Expressions starts at 5:30 PM. On Saturday, December 20, the Red River Jazz Band will also give a concert at the Pineville Community Center on Main Street. Their concert begins at 7 PM. Both Holiday Expressions and the Christmas Jazz Concert by the Red River Jazz Band are free and will be great events for families to attend.
All this great music will bring 2014 to a terrific close. There will be even more to come at MusicCentral next year!
About Jackson. Jackson Harmeyer is a music historian and composer. He is a graduate of the Louisiana Scholars’ College – Louisiana’s designated honors college – where he completed an undergraduate thesis entitled “Learning from the Past: The Influence of Johann Sebastian Bach upon the Soviet Composers.” He has followed classical music around the world, attending the BachFest Leipzig in Germany, Colorado’s Aspen Music Festival, and many concerts across Louisiana and Texas. Resident in Alexandria, Jackson works with the Arts Council of Central Louisiana as Series Director of the Abendmusik Alexandria chamber music series. He also writes the program notes for the Rapides Symphony Orchestra. As his day job, Jackson serves as Operations Manager of TicketCentral.