After the success of their inaugural Christmas performance last year, Birch Creek returns this year for a “Christmas Around the World” holiday concert on Saturday, Dec. 2, marking the end of their fall music series.
Speaking with Birch Creek Performance Center Executive Director Mona Christensen, they decided to expand their programming this year as a way to get even more of the community involved. Due to the speed with which the concert sold out last year (and knowing that many people in the community avoid driving at night), Birch Creek will offer an additional matinee concert at 2:30 pm, specifically geared toward families.
The matinee and evening performances will be exactly the same, with the exception of the five-octave Sister Bay Moravian Church Hand Bell Choir, directed by Diane Ludwigsen, which will only be performing at night.
Birch Creek has gone even further this year in its outreach to kids around the county. Students of all ages at the local schools who participate in band have been invited to bring their instruments for a brass Master Class at 10:30 am on Saturday morning. Students will have the opportunity to break into small groups and learn from brass professionals about their craft.
If you didn’t have the pleasure of attending the Birch Creek Christmas performance last year, Christensen says you can expect a combination of traditional Christmas pieces, as well as the secular, more well known holiday hits. For the classics, a brass quintet of past Birch Creek Symphony members from Chicago will perform pieces by Handel and Bach, among others (Birch Creek makes it a priority to bring back former faculty members). This group consists of Darren Castellanos on trombone, Charles Schuchat on tuba, Kevin Wood on trumpet, and Dan O’Connell on the horn. They will also be joined by trumpeter Don Sipe, and Percussion Program Director Dan Moore. Though some of these songs may not be as familiar to audience members, Christensen believes it is a vital aspect of any holiday celebration.
“It’s not Christmas without the brass,” she said.
For those patrons looking to hear the Christmas hits that line the radios during this time of year, mezzo-soprano Cynthia Stiehl will lead a fun carol sing-along. Along with the Moravian Church Hand Bell Choir, Dan Moore will be doing a special performance with his vibraphone. Last year, Moore narrated The Night Before Christmas, while accompanying it with the music of the movie played on his vibraphone. Though Moore hasn’t revealed what his performance will consist of yet, Christensen hopes he reprises The Night Before Christmas, as it was a highlight of last year’s holiday show.
If the music wasn’t enough, the show will take place in the beautifully decorated Juniper Hall. There will be decorated Christmas cookies sold at the event, along with coffee and cider. Talking a week ago with Christensen, she was confident the evening performance would be sold out by the time of the printing of this article. So, if you’re reading this and you haven’t bought your ticket yet, you have a small window to make a reservation for the afternoon family concert. If you have bought your ticket, enjoy the show. And if you’re too late to get a seat to this exciting Christmas event, well, there’s always next year.
Birch Creek offers special pricing for the matinee concert with free tickets for children ages 11 and under if you call the Birch Creek office to reserve tickets; the 3/4 Time Promotion is also available for these concerts. Buy three tickets and get the fourth free by using the promo code “3/4” online or over the phone. For tickets, call 920.868.3763 or visit birchcreek.org/tickets.