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December 4, 2013

Merry Christmas from the Macomb Center

By Maria Allard
C & G Staff Writer

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The brass ensemble of the Detroit Chamber Winds & Strings performs its annual “Holiday Brass” show at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10 at the Macomb Center for the Performing Arts in Clinton Township.
Christmas on the Macomb Center stage

• Tony Orlando’s “Great American Christmas”
at 3 p.m. Dec. 8.
• The Detroit Chamber Winds & Strings
“Holiday Brass” at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10.
• Mark O’Connor’s “An Appalachian Christmas”
at 3 p.m. Dec. 15.

For ticket information, call (586) 286-2222 or visit www.macombcenter.com. The Macomb Center for the Performing Arts is located at 44575 Garfield south of Hall Road in Clinton Township.

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — The spirit of the Christmas season has arrived at the Macomb Center for the Performing Arts with a schedule of musical shows that promise to bring holiday cheer.

Tony Orlando kicks it off with his “Great American Christmas” show at 3 p.m. Dec. 8.
Two days later, the Detroit Chamber Winds & Strings returns for its annual “Holiday Brass” show at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10.

On Dec. 15, it’s violinist Mark O’Connor, who takes his audience on a journey through America’s land of Appalachia in “An Appalachian Christmas.” Show time is 3 p.m.
Orlando — whose hits include “Candida” and “Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree” — wrote, produced and directed the holiday show. His performance will treat fans to classic Christmas songs “White Christmas,” “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear” and “Silent Night.”

“Holiday Brass” has become a staple for the Macomb Center for the Performing Arts every year. The ensemble consists of brass instruments only, including trumpets, trombones, horns and a tuba. Percussion also is included in the show.
“There are no strings or woodwinds,” said show conductor Scott Boerma, director of bands at Western Michigan University. “There are many arrangements of holiday tunes. We’ll play ‘Sleigh Ride,’ ‘Silent Night’ and ‘Wenceslas Suite.’ We’ll play original compositions that are appropriate for the holiday season.”

Some DCWS players also are members of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the Michigan Opera Theatre. The Dec. 10 show also will feature The Fraser Singers from Fraser High School. Directed by Pasquale Pascaretti, the vocal group will perform a number of songs, including “Joy,” which Boerma arranged. It’s three different pieces: “Joy to the World,” Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” and Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy.”

“We like to have a casual approach to the evening. It’s a family-friendly performance with holiday-inspired music,” Boerma said. “They’re short pieces. It’s very entertaining. I’m fortunate to be the conductor of this concert. You start making beautiful music. It’s a really great way to usher in the holiday season.”

Center stage will switch gears for O’Connor’s Dec. 15 show. In 2011, the Seattle native released the CD “An Appalachian Christmas” in which James Taylor, Yo-Yo Ma and Allison Krause make guest appearances.
Onstage, the album comes alive. O’Connor will play the entire CD of 15 songs, with “a few surprises” thrown in. Because “An Appalachian Christmas” remained in different categories on the “Billboard” music chart for so long, tour dates were announced last year and this year.

For O’Connor, Appalachian music isn’t just a random person playing a banjo in the mountains.
“I think there’s some people who refer to it as Appalachian music. I refer to it as music from Appalachia. A lot of music in Appalachia includes blues and jazz,” O’Connor said. “I think of it as the first melting pot or stir fry of American music and culture and diversity. That reflects Appalachia to me.”

O’Connor’s violin playing style blends Appalachian sounds with other genres of music, including classical and Texas swing.
“I’ve made a career on focusing and refocusing how those cross-pollinate,” O’Connor said from his New York City digs last week.

The Grammy-winner will share the spotlight with Carrie Rodriguez on fiddle, banjo player Cia Cherryholmes Adkisson, Kyle Kegerreis on bass, and Joe Smart, whose credits include award-winning multi-instrumentalist, studio musician and producer. Also in the show is O’Connor’s 25-year-old son, Forrest O’Connor, on mandolin. Rodriguez and Cherryholmes Adkisson also harmonize.
“They sing like angels,” O’Connor said.

“An Appalachian Christmas” tour will hit the following states: Georgia, the Carolinas, Arkansas, Oregon and Washington. O’Connor’s violin is a Cooper brand made in Portland, Maine. It’s a violin for the quieter music, but turns into a fiddle when the tempo picks up.

“It’s beautiful,” O’Connor said. “You can do anything on it.”

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Maria Allard at allard@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1045.