The weekend before the Christmas holiday is jam-packed with special musical events — from beloved pianist Jim Brickman to the Toledo Symphony’s final holiday concerts and, yes, one more Nutcracker. Get those gifts wrapped and cookies baked so you can catch the holiday spirit at one event or another.
For the keyboard whiz from Cleveland, Brickman, visit No. 17 to the Glass City will be at 3 p.m. Sunday in the Stranahan Theater.
This year's program, The Magic of Christmas, will include plenty of romantic solo work by Brickman but also special guest performers including vocalist Luke McMaster. The program will draw from Brickman’s latest CD by the same name.
Through his press agent Brickman said, “Every night, it’s a different audience in a different city, but it’s the same heartwarming expression of joy and hope on each face during the season.”
Since starting to play piano at age 5, Brickman has studied both classical and popular styles, including a stint at the prestigious Cleveland Institute of Music and the launch of his own advertising agency in his hometown, where he records jingles for major companies.
He has scored 27 Top 40 singles on the adult contemporary charts and collaborated with stars including country singer Martina McBride, Rebecca Lynn Howard, Collin Raye, and Lady Antebellum.
Last March, the pianist recorded the fourth of his specials for PBS, Jim Brickman Presents Celebration of the ’70s.
Brickman and McMaster will perform, answer questions, and sign autographs from 11 a.m. to noon Sunday at Barnes and Noble’s University Bookstore at the Gateway on the University of Toledo campus.
Tickets for the Sunday concert start at $28 and are available at www.stranahantheater.org or 419-381-8851.
The Toledo Symphony’s extremely busy Christmas 2013 tour has been a smash success. Many concerts sold out in advance as host churches in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan use the orchestra’s visits as a high point of Advent.
Jeffrey Pollock, resident conductor for the symphony, has served as maestro for all the Neighborhood and Regional concerts, as well as special events such as the orchestra’s first Holiday Pops at the Peristyle, part of the Family Series.
So by the end of this Sunday, Pollock and the stalwart instrumentalists will be ready for their well-deserved “long winter’s rest.”
But before that are miles of music to make, including tonight’s concert at St. Wendelin Church, Fostoria. A staffer at the church said the concert is sold out.
But there are tickets available for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday concerts.
St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, 1690 Sterns Rd., Temperance, will welcome the orchestra, Pollock, and soloists tenor Mark Elvey and baritone Ben Fidler for a 7:30 p.m. performance in the sanctuary.
On the program will be a holiday medley by Stephenson, featuring Elvey as soloist, plus Pierne’s “March of the Little Lead Soldiers,” and Wendel’s “Jingle Fourth.”
Fidler will sing the beloved “Gesu Bambino,” and student instrumentalists will catch the spotlight in play-along carols.
Tickets will be $20 at the door.
Amidst the Tiffany-windowed splendor of First Congregational Church, one of the last remaining original historic churches on Collingwood Boulevard (2513 Collingwood), Pollock and the symphony will perform a full program of classical and popular Christmas music at 3 p.m. Saturday.
Timothy Lake will narrate Clement Moore’s ’Twas the Night Before Christmas; there will be music by Rimsky-Korsakov and Strauss, and an excerpt from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker.
Tickets are $15 at the church office or, if any remain, at the door on Saturday.
Finally, All Saints Church, 628 Lime City Rd., Rossford, will welcome the symphony for a 4 p.m. concert Sunday. This will be the 12th year the orchestra has performed in this parish.
Joining Pollock and the players will be mezzo-soprano Katie Calcamuggio and baritone Jess Donner to sing two favorite Christmas songs, “Gesu Bambino” and “O Holy Night.”
The concert will open to the overture from the film Miracle on 34th Street, include Lake narrating the Clement Moore classic, and will close with the symphony’s traditional encore, Leroy Anderson's “Sleigh Ride.”
Tickets at $20 are selling fast, according to the All Saints church office, where they can be purchased from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday or at the door on Sunday.
And then, to Pollock, the symphony, Lake, and the soloists, it will be “and to all, a Good Night!”
If you can’t get enough of The Nutcracker this season, there is one more opportunity. The Chicago Festival Ballet of Kenneth von Heidecke will return to present the classic story ballet at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the historic Ritz Theatre, 30 S. Washington St., Tiffin.
This professional company, like so many which travel during December to bring Nutcracker magic to smaller markets, includes local dancers in its production.
Some 35 local children will be onstage during the two-act classic, portraying party-goers, mice, soldiers, and other company parts.
Tickets are $20-$30 at 419-448-8544 or www.ritztheatre.org.
For an Old World holiday experience, plan to attend Ein Weihnachtsstimmung — the German Advent Christmas Service — performed by the Teutonia Mannerchor and Damenchor of the German American Family in Toledo. Music starts at 3 p.m. Sunday in First St. John’s Lutheran Church, 2471 Seaman Rd., not far from Oak Shade Grove in Oregon.
Eric Graber will conduct the singers in a program of traditional German holiday music with liturgy, scriptures, and commentaries celebrating the Christmas spirit. Following the performance will come traditional gemutlichkeit in a reception.
Printed programs will offer English translations of the carol and anthem texts.
To celebrate the holidays in the comfort of your home, Toledo’s public radio station, WGTE FM 91, has programmed many seasonal choices for your listening pleasure.
The schedule starts with Paul Winter’s enduring Winter Solstice celebration from 8 to 10 p.m. Friday. Broadcast from the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, this event features Winter and his Consort with Paul McCandless, the Drummers of the Forces of Nature, gospel singer Theresa Thomason, and the Paul Winter Sextet.
From the New England Conservatory of Music will come A Centennial Ceremony of Carols, the popular cantata for voices and harp by Benjamin Britten, whose centennial has been this year. Performing from 9 to 10 a.m. Monday will be the conservatory chamber chorus and brass ensemble, plus the Back Bay Ringers in a varied program.
A Journey Through the Nutcracker is set for 8 to 10 p.m. Monday, with a behind-the-scenes look at the Boston Ballet’s production.
A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols broadcast from King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, England, will be performed live from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesday and rebroadcast from 8 to 10 p.m. that day. On Wednesday comes the St. Olaf College Christmas Celebration with choirs, orchestra, and a huge audience singing along from 9 to 11 a.m.
A Season’s Griot will explore Kwanzaa, the African solstice celebration, from 7 to 8 p.m. Dec. 26.
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