Corvallis Community Band Artistic Director Select Lia Poole will make her first holiday appearance behind the baton Sunday afternoon, joining longtime band director Steve Matthes on a program festively entitled "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like a Holiday Concert."
The performance begins at 1 p.m. in the Community Center of the First United Methodist Church at the corner of 12th Street and Jackson Avenue in Corvallis.
Poole, who also serves as Corvallis High School's band director, has selected three pieces for the traditionally versatile set, from recent favorites to a poignant tribute to an acknowledgment of another culture's observance of Christmas.
The first is an upbeat symphonic tour of Disney's "Frozen" in honor of its recently released sequel. It's followed by Randall Standridge's "With Every Winter's Breath," written in memory of Bayfield High School (Bayfield, Colo.) band trumpeter Maddie Milner, who died in a January 2010 skiing accident at Durango Mountain Resort.
"I was introduced to it by my students," she said. "It's a beautiful piece and has a nod to the holidays and also a quote of 'Go Tell It on the Mountain' as played by trumpet. The piece was commissioned by the band that lost this student."
Her final piece is Alfred Reed's "Russian Christmas Music," whose folk and church hymn tones may sound foreign to ears accustomed to American holiday fare.
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"It's quite different," Matthes said. "Parts of it are very somber and church-like, kind of like a plain chant. It's quite an impressive work."
"I've never conducted it before, but I've always been a lover of Alfred Reed's music," Poole said. "And I've always enjoyed this piece of music. It's perfect for a large wind ensemble, with just beautiful melodies."
According to Matthes, the concert stands, as always, as a deft blend of audience favorites and new touches. Dancers from the Willamette Apprentice Ballet will accompany performances of "Sleigh Ride" as well as "Arabian Dance" and "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" from Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker" and the French Christmas carol "Pat-a-Pan," as arranged by Mannheim Steamroller.
"We've played their arrangements in the past and they've been received well, so we thought we'd do that again this year," Matthes said.
The Flute Cocktail ensemble will also be on hand, entertaining early arrivals before the concert and leading the "Hallelujah Chorus" from Handel's "Messiah."
"We tried to combine audience favorites with some new things," Matthes said. "I think we were very successful in doing that. There'll be lots of traditional Christmas songs you can sing along with if you like. It's just a good variety of songs from the holiday period."
"It's been fun working with Steve," Poole said. "We've been getting together regularly. He's been educating me on the history of the last 40 years of the band. It helps me connect with the community of Corvallis."