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Review: An Intimate Evening with the Ivy Street Ensemble

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By Theresa Allen, guest blogger

On April 26, 2019, the Ivy Street Ensemble presented a spirited evening of chamber music at the Lone Tree Arts Center. The performance celebrated the music of three, prolific, male composers, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ferde Grofé alongside the works of two modern, female, master composers, Rebecca Clarke and Maria Newman. Members of the Ivy Street Ensemble include Catherine Peterson on flute, Erik Peterson on violin, Phillip Stevens on viola, and Danielle Guideri on cello. All of the performers are also members of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra.

The concert featured commentary by Betsy Schwarm, a local music historian, who warmly provided context and analysis on each composition for the audience.  For those of us who were new to chamber music, Schwarm said that this form was written to be performed by three or four instruments in small intimate spaces, such as a living or drawing room. She said that in chamber compositions, no one particular instrument is the star, rather the music is an interplay of parts that showcase the strengths of each instrument.

The concert opened with “Serenade for Flute, Violin and Viola Op 25” by Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827). Schwarm explained that Beethoven wrote this in 1801, when he was merely 30 years old. At the time, Beethoven was writing Mozart inspired symphonies and this playful, light, spirited piece reflects that influence. While chamber music may have been originally played in a drawing room, the Lone Tree Arts Center’s stage has wonderful acoustics and this beautiful, elegant music filled the room leaving the audience with the sense of having experienced something quite remarkable.

The second performance, “Two Pieces for Viola and Cello,” by Rebecca Clarke (1886-1979) was constructed in two parts, the first a lullaby, a form most of us are familiar with and the second part was a grotesque, which Schwarm described as being quirky and irregular. Stevens and Guideri performed together giving us a beautiful, soft lullaby that was executed with dramatic precision and then a bright, lively, full-sounding piece for the grotesque movement.

The Ivy Street Ensemble then performed Table d’Hote: Humoresque, by Ferde Grofé (1892-1972), which was originally written in 1945. Schwarm explained that the title takes its name from the convivial gathering of people conversing around the main table in a restaurant, and as such, the performance evolves through many moods from cheerful to melancholy and back to lively.  I noticed members of the audience listening so intently and silently that you could hear a pin drop.

We then heard a thrilling rendition of Mozart’s (1756-1791) “Quartet for Flute and Strings in D Minor, Op. 285” which was written for the flute as the lead. The first movement was a lilting serenade that transitioned into a soft, sad mood that allowed the audience to appreciate the mastery and genius of Mozart.

The last work that the Ivy Street Ensemble performed was “Pennipotenti for Flute, Violin, and Viola” composed by Maria Newman (1962). Schwarm noted that Newman is from Los Angeles and is the daughter of composer Alfred Newman as well as related to Randy Newman, the musician. Composed in 2005, the title of this composition means “the power of feathers,” and Newman created in four movements representing birds. The first movement, “The Dipper,” soars bewitchingly light and playful, the second movement “The Hummingbird,” is fast and furious, the third movement, “The Snowy Owl” is quiet with its deeply moving harmonies and textures, and the last movement, “The Falcon” is complex, contemporary, and full of energy and power. Newman’s piece was a splendid ending to a delightful evening of beautiful music sprinkled with charming stories by Betsy Schwarm.

In addition, the Ivy Street Ensemble also generously gave each member of the audience their latest CD, Serenades: Then and Now. If you’d like to learn more about the Ivy Street Ensemble, you can visit their website at http://www.earwarp.com

Preview: Ranky Tanky

headerBy Theresa Allen, guest blogger

Get ready for a rich evening of storytelling though song when Ranky Tanky takes the main stage on Friday, April 26 at 8 p.m., at the Lone Tree Arts Center. Ranky Tanky brings the rich tradition of Gullah music of the Carolina coast and infuses it with its own spirited influences of jazz, funk, gospel and R&B. The evening will feature tender lullabies, playful game songs, and elegiac spirituals.

The members of Ranky Tanky include Quentin Baxter on drums and percussion. Baxter is a Grammy-nominated performer and producer of music. Quiana Parler brings her beautiful vocals to the group. Parler studied opera as a child and then gospel, pop and R&B. Clay Ross, founder of Ranky Tanky, performs vocals and guitar. Charlton Singleton, whose family comes from the Coast, plays on the trumpet and Kevin Hamilton performs on bass.

Gullah is a tradition of food, art, music and other cultural references that are deeply rooted in West African culture and have significantly influenced American culture. Gullah tradition has given us songs like “Kum Bah Ya” and “Michael Rowed the Boat Ashore” as well as influenced George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess and Zora Neale Hurston’s novel Their Eyes Were Watching God and children’s literature like Br’er Rabbit from Uncle Remus Songs and Sayings.

Join the Lone Tree Arts Center as it “gets funky!” (a loose translation of Ranky Tanky), on Friday, April 26. Tickets are on sale now from $25 to $45 and can be purchased at www.lonetreeartscenter.org. The Lone Tree Arts Center is located at 10075 Commons Street in Lone Tree. Free on-site parking is available.

Preview: Ivy Street Serenades

An Evening of Classical Music with the Ivy Street Ensemble

By Theresa Allen, guest blogger

Colorado’s own Ivy Street Ensemble will be performing on Wednesday, April 17 at 7:30 at the Lone Tree Arts Center. Whether you’ve heard them on Colorado Public Radio or seen them perform in Denver, the Ivy Street Ensemble features nationally-known violinist Erik Peterson performing with fellow chamber musicians Cathy Peterson on flute and Phillip Stevens on viola.

An Evening of Classical Music will feature the enduring compositions of Beethoven and Mozart along their influences in the works of Ferde Grofé who composed the Grand Canyon Suite, Alberto Ginastera and his Impressions de la Puna as well as the works of Maria Newman. This intimate evening of chamber music will be narrated with stories about the pieces that you’ll hear by Betsy Schwarm, a local music historian, who regularly gives talks for the Colorado Symphony Orchestra.

The Ivy Street Ensemble has been performing together since 2001, and they are all members of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. Dedicated to instilling a love of music in the next generation, the Ivy Street Ensemble also gives back to our community by engaging children through performances at local public schools.

Come hear this elegant and eclectic concert of early and modern classical compositions. Tickets range from $30 to $40 and can be purchased at http://www.lonetreeartscenter.org. The Lone Tree Arts Center is located at 10075 Commons Street in Lone Tree. Free on-site parking is available.

Review: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

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Review: And We Drop The Needle Once Again!

By Theresa Allen, guest blogger

If we could only step back in time… Well, you can, with the Lone Tree Arts Center’s Classic Album Live series. This spring, two new shows featuring the music of Creedence Clearwater Revival and Pink Floyd will be performed on the LTAC’s stage. On Saturday, January 19, I attended Classic Albums Live: Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band and was pleasantly surprised to get caught up in the excitement of listening to the Beatles play once again.

What was really amazing was the faithfulness of the sound to the original album. Craig Martin, founder of Classic Albums Live touts the series as a “note for note, cut for cut” endeavor. The clean, clear voices of the singers, the precision playing of the instruments, and the distorted noises that we all remember from listening to the Beatle’s vinyl versions are all there.

There are a couple of reasons why this unique type of performance works for Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. The band follows some of the conventions of the symphony. The eleven performers on stage are anonymous to the audience—their names are not listed in the theater program nor announced during the show, they all wear black, they play numerous instruments, and no one acted the part of being a Beatle. Whether they were playing the violin, piano, or bass guitar, they were all extraordinary musicians playing a rock masterpiece that has stood the test of time. Songs like “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” “Lovely Rita,” and “Within You Without You” were sung by the performers with strong voices, and no fake British accents. Now you might say, the Beatles had strong Liverpool accents, how can the song sound the same? But remarkably, it does. Perhaps, it’s the instrumental accuracy paired with the audiences’ deep love for the album that really breathes life into the music.

The Classic Albums Live band had a great rapport with the audience whether they were tuning an instrument or moving to perform some other function. The full performance of the Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band was completed in about an hour. The second half of the performance focused on many of the Beatles hits, demonstrating that these musicians really prepared for a deep dive into Beatles history.

Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band was performed to a sold out audience both nights. At the end of the performance, there was nothing more inspiring than to see the response of concert goers singing along with the band and enjoying the beat of the music. The Classic Albums Live band received a standing ovation and as I left the building I heard many people remarking on their wonderful performance.

The Lone Tree Arts Center will be hosting two more events in this series including Creedence Clearwater Revival’s, Chronicle Volume 1 on Saturday, May 11 at 8 p.m. featuring the songs “Bad Moon Rising,” “Proud Mary,” and “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” The series has become so popular with local audiences that a new concert has been recently added on Saturday, June 8, at 8 p.m. featuring the music of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.

So, it is possible to step back in time and to once again hear the music that is the soundtrack of your life. Tickets for the next two Classic Albums Live concerts are going fast, but still available from $32 to $45 and can be purchased online at www.lonetreeartscenter.org. The Lone Tree Arts Center is located at 10075 Commons Street in Lone Tree. Free on-site parking is available.

Preview: Classic Albums Live Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

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SIT BACK AND ENJOY THE SHOW WITH SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND!

By Theresa Allen, guest blogger

The Lone Tree Arts Center will revisit the genius of the Beatles and the music that defined an era with Classic Albums Live: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band on Saturday, January 19 at 8:00 and Sunday, January 20 at 7:00 p.m.

Craig Martin, founder of Classic Albums Live, brings a sixteen-piece band of outstanding musicians who will perform one of the most complex and profound masterpieces in rock and roll history. Every note performed as if you were back in the recording studio with the Beatles in 1967. More importantly, this is not a 60s tribute band type of performance with costumes and performers that look like the Beatles, rather it is a group of extraordinary, professional musicians who bring the album to life as it was intended to be heard.

Fifty-two years after its release, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band still resonates as one of the most popular and influential albums of all time with hits like:  “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” “When I’m Sixty-Four,” “She’s Leaving Home,” “With a Little Help from My Friends” and “A Day in the Life” as well as George Harrison’s experimental “Within You and Without You” and the title cut “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”  The Classic Albums Live musicians replicate the singing, the brass, the guitars, the sitars, and the drums with utter fidelity to the original experience.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band sealed the Beatles’ legacy in music history for decades to come. Join the Lone Tree Art Center as it celebrates the Beatles and the timelessness of this brilliant album in concert. Seats are going fast. Tickets are $32 to $45 and can be purchased online at www.lonetreeartscenter.org. The Lone Tree Arts Center is located at 10075 Commons Street in Lone Tree. Free on-site parking is available.

Preview: Home for the Holidays

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THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS!

By Theresa Allen, guest blogger

For many people in the Greater Denver area, the Christmas season doesn’t begin until the Lone Tree Art’s Center’s annual Home for the Holidays, with performances beginning Wednesday, December 19 and continuing until Sunday, December 23, 2018. Tickets are on sale now for both matinee and evening performances.

Home for the Holidays is an original production in collaboration with Chris Starkey of Imprint Group that brings together local performers for a spectacular show featuring traditional and modern holiday songs, stunning dance numbers, comedy skits, and good old-fashioned, family-friendly fun. Nearly 50 beautifully costumed performers will create a visually impressive extravaganza of holiday cheer for audiences of all ages.

Whether you are a long-time attendee or creating a new tradition with your family, Home for the Holidays is sure to delight and surprise you with a fresh new show this year. You may even catch a glimpse of the jolly old man himself! It’s the perfect time to remind yourself that there truly is no place like home.

Tickets for Home for the Holidays are on sale now from $36 to $63 and can be purchased online, in person, or over the phone at 720-509-1000. The Lone Tree Arts Center is located at 10075 Commons Street in Lone Tree. Free on-site parking is available.

 

Click here to watch a preview video of the show!

Preview: Low Down Dirty Blues

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*Photo: Tim Fuller

By Theresa Allen, guest blogger

The heartbreaking stories of lost loves, hard-times, failed jobs, and all that is both painful and joyful in life comes to the Lone Tree Arts Center with Low Down Dirty Blues beginning Thursday, October 18 to Saturday, October 27, 2019. Through song, music and stories, Low Down Dirty Blues promises to take the audience from the midnight blues straight into the joy of a Sunday morning gospel redemption.

The musical revue features Felicia P. Fields as Big Mama, a Chicago bar owner, who gathers with several blues musicians for a bawdy and humorous conversation and an after-hours jam session that features the songs of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Ma Rainey, Pearl Bailey, and Mae West. Fields is a Chicago native and veteran stage actress known for her Tony-nominated Broadway performance as Sophia in The Color Purple as well television and in stage performances in the Chicago theater scene.

Joining Felicia are Shake Anderson, who’s worked with some of the most recognizable musicians in the business, including Aretha Franklin, B.B. King, Ray Charles, and Stevie Wonder; and Chic Street Man, who has an impressive stage resume and has performed at many prestigious venues, including the Montreux and Bern Jazz Festivals in Switzerland and the General Assembly of the United Nations. All three were previously in the production earlier this year in Arizona. In Low Down Dirty Blues, Fields, Anderson, and Street Man, along with additional musicians, will perform blues standards such as “I’d Rather Go Blind,” “Good Morning Heartache,” “Nobody’s Fault But Mine,” and “I Got My Mojo Working.”

Low Down Dirty Blues is brought to the Lone Tree Arts Center under the creative direction of Randal Myler and Dan Wheetman, the creators of Muscle Shoals: I’ll Take You There and It Ain’t Nothin’ but the Blues. The musical offers the extraordinary opportunity to hear a truly American art form with its roots in African-American work songs and spirituals learned at the knee of sharecroppers on their porches, in the fields, and in the church pews.

Tickets for Low Down Dirty Blues are on sale now from $10 to $60 and can be purchased at http://www.lonetreeartscenter.org/lowdowndirtyblues. Both matinee and evening performances are available in this beautiful venue that doesn’t have a bad seat in the house. The Lone Tree Arts Center is located at 10075 Commons Street in Lone Tree. Free on-site parking is available.

DEATH AIN’T NOTHING BUT A FASTBALL ON THE OUTSIDE CORNER: Review of August Wilson’s “Fences”

By Theresa Allen, guest blogger

The warm golden glow of a summer’s evening juxtaposed against the dark shadows of a dilapidated brick city home provides a luminous backdrop to the riveting and heartbreaking performance of August Wilson’s Fences at the Lone Tree Arts Center. There is still time to pick up tickets to see this extraordinary performance before the play closes on Saturday, April 21st.

Fences opens with Troy Maxson, a garbage man, holding court in his backyard with his captive audience, his wife Rose and best friend Bono. In the opening scene, Troy is a mesmerizing storyteller who humorously recounts a fantastical tale, in the African-American oral tradition, of how he wrestled and escaped from death. This allegorical telling is the thread that holds all the complicated aspects of Troy’s personality together in a deeply disappointing world.

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Esau Pritchett as Troy Maxson. Photo by Danny Lam.

The part of Troy is portrayed by Esau Pritchett, who brings to life a good, but deeply flawed man whose personal frustrations have resulted in building walls between himself and those who love him. Pritchett’s strong voice, charismatic nature, and powerful stage presence provides the audience the sense that they are watching the tragic fall of a working class hero.

In his youth, Troy has the opportunity to play for the Negro Baseball League, at a time before the racial barriers were broken by Jackie Robinson. However, he is involved in a robbery that results in the loss of his baseball future, and he ends up with penitentiary time. He is not home to raise his oldest son, Lyons, played by Bradford Barnes. In his limited understanding of the world, Troy cannot comprehend Lyons’ calling to become a jazz musician and is annoyed by his inability to provide for his wife and his weekly requests for money.

Troy’s second son, Cory, played by Jay Reeves, is a young man with the opportunity to receive an athletic scholarship. Reeves gives a outstanding performance as a young man full of hope and optimism that is dashed when his father will not sign the papers allowing him to play college football. Troy projects his own failure in athletics on to Cory. This is Troy’s way of protecting Cory from the harshness of the world. However, it’s Troy’s sense of duty towards his family coupled with his own inability to be a perfect father and husband that is the tension that holds this play together.

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Esau Pritchett and Julanne Chidi Hill. Photo by Danny Lam.

Without giving away the plot, the pivotal crisis that occurs between Troy and Rose illuminates the complexity of their 18-year marriage. Rose, who in Act I seems marginalized in the lives of Troy, Lyons and Cory steps into the spotlight as a strong and resilient character in her own right in Act II. Julanne Chidi Hill, the actress who portrays Rose, gives a spellbinding performance when she challenges Troy’s view of the world by pointing out her own disappointment in his behavior and her own life. Yet she rises above the situation. There is a great acting chemistry between Hill and Pritchett, which makes Troy’s betrayal profoundly devastating to the audience.

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(L-R)Bradford Barnes, Julanne Chidi Hill, Darryl Alan Reed, and Jay Reeves. Photo by Danny Lam.

The one character that ties all of the family together is Darryl Alan Reed’s memorable performance as Gabe, Troy’s mentally ill brother. It’s no coincidence that Gabe, who carries a trumpet and who is constantly talking to St. Peter will be the vehicle for Troy’s redemption. In fact, I was surprised and delighted by the “deux ex machina” ending reminiscent of the chariot scene in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. This interesting ending reminds the audience that no one escapes death and what that means for those who love you. While Troy may have been a free man in 1950s Pittsburgh, he was still enslaved in a culture by racism, poverty, responsibility, and powerlessness in a world that seemed to be constantly conspiring against him. Closure only comes to Troy’s wife and children, and to the audience, through forgiveness and understanding.

Fences is the sixth in a series of ten plays Wilson called the “Pittsburgh Cycles.” Written in 1985, Fences was the winner of the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Tony Award for Best Play. In the capable and deft hands of director Wren T. Brown and this fine cast, this smart, funny, captivating, and heart-rending performance of Fences engages the audience with a satisfying story about the human condition.

Tickets for August Wilson’s Fences are sale now from $35 to $60 and can be purchased at www.lonetreeartscenter.org/fences. The Lone Tree Arts Center is located at 10075 Commons Street in Lone Tree. Free on-site parking is available.

Preview: SFJAZZ Collective and the Music of Miles Davis and Original Compositions

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By Theresa Allen, Guest Blogger

Looking to spend an evening listening to world-class jazz music in the Greater Denver area? The SFAZZ Collective will be performing “The Music of Miles Davis and Original Compositions” on Wednesday, April 25 at 7:30 at the Lone Tree Arts Center.

The SFJAZZ Collective is an all-star ensemble that performs new and fresh arrangements of work by a modern jazz master. The SFJAZZ Collective, a nonprofit launched in 2004 in San Francisco, is a collaboration of many diverse and dedicated jazz musicians who wish to inspire audiences with high quality concerts and a children and teens’ music education outreach program aimed at encouraging the next generation of jazz performers.

The SFJAZZ Collective will perform a tribute to legendary jazz composer and musician, Miles Davis, who was one of the most innovative and influential jazz performers of the 20th Century. “The Music of Miles Davis and Original Compositions” will be performed by eight SFJAZZ Collective musicians, all at the top of their fields, including:

David Sánchez, a Grammy Award winning jazz tenor saxophonist, from Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. Sanchez performed in Dizzy Gillespie’s United Nation Orchestra and Dizzy’s Trio until Dizzy’s death in 1993, toured with the Phillip Morris Superband and with many other jazz greats. He will be performing with Sean Jones, an American trumpeter and composer who was featured on Nancy Wilson’s Grammy Award winning album Turned to Blue in 2007. On vibraphone, Warren Wolf , a musician trained in many genres from classical to jazz and who is a percussion instructor at the Berklee College of Music. Wolf performs regularly with the Rachael Price Group (of Lake Street Dive fame) and the Donel Fox Group.

Miguel Zenón will be performing on the alto saxophone. He is a founding member of the SFJAZZ Collective as well as a composer, bandleader, teacher, and a four-time Grammy Award nominee. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a MacArthur Genius Grant. On trombone will be Robin Eubanks, a jazz and fusion musician who has performed with Slide Hampton, Sun Ra, and Stevie Wonder. Eubanks has appeared on The Tonight Show and Saturday Night Live.

Edward Simon will accompany the group on piano. Simon is a Venezuelan jazz musician who has performed on several Grammy-nominated albums and who teaches at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music.  The jazz bassist is Matt Penman, one of the most in-demand musicians in the United States. Penman recently joined the faculty of the Roots, Jazz and American Music program at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. And last, but not least, Obed Calvaire will perform on drums. Calvaire has performed along with Wynton Marsalis, Seal, Lizz Wright, and Sean Jones among many others.

An evening with the SFJAZZ Collective offers us the extraordinary opportunity to hear selections of Mile’s Davis’ works interpreted by the foremost musicians in the field of jazz today. Tickets for the SFJAZZ Collective’s “The Music of Miles Davis and Original Compositions” are on sale now from $33 to $55 and can be purchased at www.lonetreeartscenter.org/sfjazz. The Lone Tree Arts Center is located at 10075 Commons Street in Lone Tree. Free on-site parking is available.

Review: A Kantorei Christmas

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By Theresa Allen, Guest Blogger

Performing the last of their three sold-out performances of the holiday season, Kantorei brought the audience to its feet at the Lone Tree Arts Center on December 19. A Kantorei Christmas featured a stellar performance by the 50-singer chorus coupled with instrumentals on harp, percussion, string bass, and piano.

Kantorei, an a capella group of international renown, opened its first set with “Come Let Us Adore Him” a traditional carol performed with a medieval drumbeat that reminded the audience of ancient times and the birth of Christ. The chorus transitioned into “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman” and “Still, Still Night” as well as a few other Christmas carols produced with a musical twist by composer Jackson Berkey, one of the founders of Manheim Steamroller.

The evening featured several elegant harp solos and accompaniment with the chorus by Janet Kay Harriman, who performs with Opera Colorado and the Central City Opera Festival. The full-bodied warmth of Harriman’s performance of “Asleep in My Arms” evoked the austere beauty of the Christmas season. “Long Expected Jesus” opened with the delicate tones of the harp, the rise of the voices of the sopranos and altos, and became interwoven with the tenor and basses to produce a swell of sound that was ethereal in nature.

The audience was treated to My Perfect Stranger, a composition by Bob Chilcott, which was originally performed by the BBC Singers in 2016, and presented only two other times in the United States. My Perfect Stranger is a poetic retelling of the nativity story that raises the question of what is our role in the Christ story and what part do we play in welcoming others into our lives. Christianna Sullins performed a magnificent solo as Mary and the piece featured dazzling solos by other Kantorei members as the Innkeeper, the angels, the wise men, and even Herod.

The peacefulness of the nativity story was followed by rousing renditions of “Carol of the Bells,” “Sleigh Ride,” and “Sing We Now of Christmas.” However, it was Kantorei’s “Silent Night” sung with the members of the audience that reminded us that Christmas is a season of community, of reaching out to others and celebrating all that is good in this world.

Kantorei, led by artistic director Joel Rinsema, includes more than 50 volunteers, who sing in the chorus as well as serve as teachers, musicians, and conductors in their communities. In 2018, Naxos Records will produce Kantorei’s work with Norwegian composer Kim Andre Arnesen. For more information about Kantorei, visit their website at www.kantorei.com.

The Lone Tree Arts Center hosts professional theatrical and musical performances all year long. In 2018, Ben Vereen, PostSecret, and the Moscow Festival Ballet as well as many other entertainers will bring performances to the Denver area. For more information, visit their website at www.LoneTreeArtsCenter.org.