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Holiday Happenings
Lamarissimo!
News Release
Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Lamarissimo! makes holiday magic in
Sunday-afternoon concert December 7 at Jefferson Theatre 
 
The splendor of the star . . . the lights of the season . . . the  magic of the holidays: Lamar University’s A Cappella Choir and Grand Chorus will celebrate the Yuletide spirit at the annual Lamarissimo! holiday concert December 7 in the Jefferson Theatre.

From centuries-old classics to best-loved songs and carols, the ensembles will greet the holidays in festive fashion. The stage will be set, the poinsettias in place, the greenery aglow with twinkling lights and festooned with bright-red bows, heralding an afternoon of beauty both musical and visual on the first Sunday afternoon in December.

The performance begins at 3 p.m., sponsored by JK Chevrolet.

Michael Peters, Lamar’s new director of choral activities, will make his Lamarissimo! debut as conductor of the A Cappella Choir and Grand Chorus. This is the 19th season for Lamar’s acclaimed series of off-campus performances.

“This concert is the perfect start to the holiday season,” Peters said. “What could be better than listening to beautiful music in a richly decorated Jefferson Theatre – and then getting to sing along with some holiday favorites?”

The concert audience will enjoy music from acknowledged masters, including Felix Mendelssohn and Ralph Vaughn Williams, as well as new pieces and arrangements of traditional favorites, Peters said. The program will include carols from Germany, France and Catalonia, as well as a Southern folk hymn and an English folk song.

“It is a great honor and joy to work with the choirs at Lamar,” Peters said. “The singers are strong and sing with a lot of passion. They work hard and seem to really love what they do.”

L. Randolph Babin, director of choral activities emeritus, will be the afternoon’s announcer.

Pianists for the concert include faculty artist Dwight Peirce for the A Cappella Choir and student Andrew Segrest of Port Arthur for the Grand Chorus.

The concert will feature a special performance by the Cardinal Singers, with Lamar President Jimmy Simmons on piano. Choir member Taylor DeMartino of Lumberton is coordinating holiday decorations in the theater.

The performance will begin with two selections by Mendelssohn – “Heilig” and “There shall a Star from Jacob come forth,” the latter with soloists Haleigh Still of Orange; Brian Gibbs of Houston; and Quintin Coleman and Phillip Gay, both of Beaumont. The performance will continue with “The Promise of Light” and “In dulci jubilo,” which will feature soloists Courtney Wind, Nederland; Nic Austin, Baytown; Mary Purington, Beaumont; Randi Holst, Port Neches; Nolan Thornal, Orange; Alyssa Millner, Lumberton; Johnny Cochran, Friendswood; and Brandon Rhodes, Channelview.

“My Song in the Night” and “This Christmastide” will lead to the familiar favorites
“’Twas the Night before Christmas,” featuring soloists Levi Lynn and Hillary Gray, both of Nederland, and Nathan McManus of Pearland;  “Patapan”; and “Wassail Song.” “Patapan” will feature percussionists Robert Morgan of Kirbyville and Shaun Smith of Lumberton.

The choral rendition of classic holiday poem “‘Twas the Night before Christmas” promises to be a concert highlight. “The musical setting made popular by Harry Simeone is playful, fun and very theatrical,” Peters said.

The Cardinal Singers, Lamar’s popular show choir now under the direction of Noel Turner, are featured on “Jingle Bells,” “White Christmas” and “Merry Christmas, Darling.”  Tanya McCullor is the group’s choreographer. Members of the Cardinal Singers are Henry Brown and Laramie Gilbert, both of Beaumont; Amy Rowlett, Groves; Steven Kibodeaux, Pasadena; and Lauren Miller, Port Arthur,  joining Austin, DeMartino, Gray, McManus, Purington, Rhodes and Wind.

The choir next will perform “Fum, Fum, Fum,” with Jordan Stith of Longview on clarinet. And, as is traditional for the holiday concert, the audience will join in a holiday sing-along, with faculty artist Betsy Hines on piano. The concert will conclude with “Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day,” with percussionists Morgan and Smith, and “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”

“It is such a privilege to be part of this great tradition and relationship between Lamar and the community,” Peters said. “What a great idea it is to feature the talents of the students and faculty. And how fortunate the city is to have such wonderful performance venues.”

Peters is visiting assistant professor, as well as director of choral activities, in the Department of Music, Theatre & Dance. In addition to directing the A Cappella Choir and Grand Chorus, he teaches choral methods and choral conducting and works with the department’s high school All-State workshops and summer camp.

A native of Pennsylvania, Peters graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelor of music education in organ performance and a bachelor of science in chemistry. He continued his studies at Westminster Choir College of Rider University in Princeton, N.J., earning a master of music in choral conducting. For five years, he served as the Oaklawn-Tuttle chair of vocal music, school organist and instructor of the arts at The Hill School near Philadelphia.

As a professional singer, Peters has performed and recorded with leading choirs in the United States, including the Oregon Bach Festival Chorus, Dale Warland Singers, Robert Shaw Festival Chorus and the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia.

While completing course work for a doctor of philosophy in choral music education/conducting at Florida State University, he appeared in several Florida State Opera Theatre productions. Among them have been Britten’s “Albert Herring” (Superintendent Budd), Massenet’s “Werther” (LeBailli) and Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” (commendatore). He was also musical director for the School of Theatre’s production of “Sweet Charity.”

The holiday concert is open to Lamarissimo! season ticket-holders. The season tickets, $40 for adults and $20 for students, include admission to all five concerts in 2008-2009.  The tickets are available in the Lamar Department of Music, Theatre & Dance, (409) 880-8144, and will be on sale at the Jefferson Theatre box office the afternoon of the holiday concert. Individual tickets, $15 for adults and $10 for students,will be available in the box office beginning at 2:15 p.m. Admission is free to students of Lamar University in Beaumont with valid LU identification.

Lamarissimo!
gift certificates will also be available at the box office Dec. 7. Gift certificates also may be ordered from the Department of Music, Theatre & Dance, (409) 880-8144 – also the number to call for additional information about the concert. Priced at $40, each gift certificate may be used to purchase adult season tickets for the 2009-2010 concert series.

Lamarissimo! gift certificates make wonderful holiday gifts,” said department chair Harry Bulow. “They are perfect as stocking-stuffers, to mail with greeting cards or for any special gift-giving occasion.”

The spring 2009 Lamarissimo! schedule includes the Jazz Band, March 3; faculty artists, March 19; and Cardinal Singers and Lamar Dance Company, April 23, all starting at 7:30 p.m. in the Julie Rogers Theatre.





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