Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Lyrical nights ahead

Add a concert to your holiday to-do list

Express Staff Writer

Sun Valley Hallelujah Choir is poised for rafter-shaking gospel music at nexStage Theatre in Ketchum. Courtesy photo

A German novelist once said, "Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life."

Dust off the holiday stress and take a seat, or a pew, around town and get your musical cleansing on.

The Wood River Community Orchestra is entering its fifth season with 28 members ranging in age from 10-84 and flourishing under the direction of a new conductor, Brad Hershey. Hershey studied music at the University of Puget Sound and received his B.M. in instrumental performance from the University of Idaho in 2002. He played double bass for the Boise Philharmonic before coming to Sun Valley in 2006. He is currently upper school music director at the Community School.

The orchestra is offering two free holiday performances, Saturday, Dec. 17, at 4 p.m. at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Sun Valley, and Sunday, Dec. 18, at 4 p.m. at St. Charles Catholic Church in Hailey.

Caritas Chorale, under the artistic direction of Dick Brown, will present two free concerts on Sunday, Dec. 18, at 3 and 7 p.m. at St. Thomas Episcopal Church on

Sun Valley Road.

The concerts will feature the works of Morton Lauridsen, an American composer born in 1943 in Portland, Ore., and Benjamin Britten, an English composer born on the feast day of St. Cecilia, the patroness of musicians.

The program includes the following works:  By Morton Lauridsen, "O Nata Lux" and "O Magnum Mysterium," and by Benjamin Britten, "Ceremony of Carols" and "Jubilate Deo."

  Soloists Amy Steiger, Cherie Kessler and Dawson Howard will also perform.

  Musical accompaniment will be provided by Marina Morrison Dellago on harp and Chip Mills on organ.

  Dick Brown will give a brief introduction about the composers and their music.

Any donations made at these events will be earmarked for a specially commissioned work called the Nez Perce concerts, featuring Diane Peavey, librettist, and Dave Earnest, composer. 

< The works were conceived as a vast educational project for both the people of the Nez Perce Tribe and the people of the Wood River Valley. 

The world premier will be held in Sun Valley and the work will later be performed on the Nez Perce Reservation in Lapwai, Idaho.

  The Sun Valley Hallelujah Chorus will celebrate the holidays with a rousing free Christmas concert called A Vanilla Soul Christmas featuring traditional Christmas carols done in a jazz motif, African music and dance, a gospel version of the Hallelujah chorus and Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," accompanied by the Cliff Cunha Soul Band. The Footlight Dancers will perform along with featured soloists including tenor John Mauldin, entertainment director for the Sun Valley Co., who has appeared in "Forever Plaid."

The chorus was created by local musician/conductor Patti Parsons Tewson. After growing up in the South listening to gospel music, she was fortunate to perform with Harlem's famed conductor Bobby Lewis in a 100-person gospel choir in Fairbanks, Alaska. That experience evolved into what is known as the Hallelujah Choir.

Because the performances are free, there will be a special reception and patron party at 5:30 p.m. for $10 that will include wine, appetizers and a chance to party with the performers before the 7 p.m. concerts, which will be held Monday, Dec. 19, and Tuesday, Dec. 20, at the nexStage Theatre in Ketchum.

The Sun Valley Artist Series kicks off its concert season with the Amadea Piano Trio at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 20 at the Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood. This holiday concert will include works by Bach, Beethoven and Mendelssohn. The Amadea Piano Trio features violinist Alla Aranovskaya and violist Boris Vayner, both members of the Grammy award-nominated St. Petersburg String Quartet with Sun Valley Artist Series Artistic Director and pianist Susan Spelius Dunning.

Tickets for the performance are $35 now and $40 at the door, and can be found at Ketchum bookstores or online at Season tickets are for sale as well; $200 includes a $60 tax-deductible donation.

Future Sun Valley Artist Series presentations will include the return of Swedish guitar virtuoso Mattias Jacobsson on Jan. 12. An Evening of Piano Classics on Feb. 4 will feature St. Louis Symphony Orchestra pianist Peter Henderson and Dunning. On March 10, Sun Valley Artist Series will host a benefit concert featuring pianists Misha and Cipa Dichter.

The March 10 concert, sponsored by St. Luke's Wood River Medical Center, is to benefit suicide prevention and a better understanding of mental illness. Beneficiaries will be the Wood River chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the Wood River Valley Crisis Hotline and the Speedy Foundation, which was created in memory of Boise Olympic silver-medalist skier Jared "Speedy" Peterson.

As part of its free Great Composers recitals, on April 8, the Sun Valley Artist Series will bring tenor John Mauldin to the stage. On May 13, another free Great Composers presentation with the Langroise Trio will perform the works of composer David Alan Earnest, giving listeners a taste of Caritas Chorale's groundbreaking Nez Perce concert coming in July.

Wood River Community Orchestra

What: Musicians ages 10-84 under the direction of new conductor Brad Hershey.

When: Saturday, Dec. 17, at 4 p.m. at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Sun Valley and Sunday, Dec. 18, at 4 p.m. at St. Charles Catholic Church in Hailey.

Tickets: Free.

Caritas Chorale

What: Free concert featuring music of Benjamin Britten and Morton Lauridsen under the direction of Dick Brown.

When: Sunday, Dec. 18, at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. at St. Thomas Episcopal Church on Sun Valley Road.

Vanilla Soul Christmas

What: Sun Valley Hallelujah Choir with special guest John Mauldin, tenor, Footlight Dance Theatre and the Cliff Cunha Trio.

When: Monday, Dec. 19, and Tuesday, Dec. 20, at 7 p.m. at the nexStage Theatre in Ketchum.

Tickets: Free general admission, $10 nightly patron party includes wine, appetizers and early seating. Contact Patty Parsons Tewson for information at 721-0133.

The Amadea Piano Trio

What: Sun Valley Artist Series.

When: Tuesday, Dec. 20, at 7 p.m. at Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood, Ketchum.

Tickets: or 725-5807.

Upcoming: Mattias Jacobsson on guitar, Jan. 12.

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