Live Arts Maryland Has Lots of Holiday Cheer Coming in December -- Grammy-Award Nominee and a Metropolitan Opera Star to Appear--
The holidays should be full of music. With Live Arts Maryland, they are! This December, Music Director J. Ernest Green and the Annapolis Chorale will perform some of the area’s best holiday concerts joined by a stellar lineup of special guests. In an organization like the Annapolis Chorale, which grew out of the community, performing for family and friends during the holidays is a very special occasion indeed.
Says Music Director J. Ernest Green, “Our holiday concerts are our gift to the community. Nothing lifts your spirits more than music and we hope people will spend some time with us this December doing just that.”
Mr. Green and Co. hit all the right holiday notes starting on Friday, December 9, at 8 p.m. at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts with “A Celebration of Christmas,” the annual concert that is a joyous blend of everyone’s favorite songs, like “White Christmas” and “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” Not to be outdone in the holiday cheer department, the Annapolis Chamber Orchestra takes the spotlight for the classic “Sleigh Ride” and “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” The audience gets into the act, too, with a special holiday carol sing-along with Maestro Green.
Joining the festivities this year are a pair of internationally known performers: Grammy Award-nominee, violinist Jenny Oaks Baker, and former Celtic Woman vocalist Alex Sharpe. Ms. Baker has a worldwide following and regularly fills stadiums with fans. She has released eleven albums that have sold more than 250,000 copies and made the Billboard charts, including the #1 spot on the Top Classical Albums chart. Her album “Wish Upon a Star” earned a Best Pop Instrumental Album nomination at the 54th Grammy Awards.
A graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music and Julliard, she has performed as a soloist at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Strathmore Hall, with many of the finest symphony orchestras in the country and is a former violinist with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, DC. Ms. Baker has collaborated with some of music’s biggest names, including Gladys Knight, Kurt Bestor, Marvin Hamlisch and even former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Mr. Green recently said “I have worked with Jenny before both with the National Symphony and as a soloist and I can tell you that it is always fun and exciting for both the performers and the audience. She is an absolutely first-rate player!”
The Irish group Celtic Woman is a worldwide phenomenon. One of the standout voices of the group was Alex Sharpe, who was a member from 2008 to 2010 and rejoined for the 2015 anniversary tour. A Dublin native, he began her career there as Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz” at the Olympia Theatre. Her big break came when the Cameron Mackintosh Company asked her to play Éponine in “Les Misérables” in England and Ireland and for a concert tour of the show. Ms. Sharpe also created the role of Bernadette in the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Ben Elton Musical “The Beautiful Game.” In 2015 she performed her debut solo concert, “One Heart One Voice.”
“Alex not only has a beautiful voice but has a wonderful way of connecting with the audience. I know our audience will love her!” says Mr. Green.
The holiday performances continue the following week when Mr. Green, the Chorale’s Chamber Chorus and the Annapolis Chamber Orchestra present a very special trio of performances of Handel's “Messiah” at historic St. Anne’s Church in downtown Annapolis. The nearly perfect acoustics and historic beauty of St. Anne’s make it the perfect location to experience this much-loved oratorio, which takes on extra intensity and meaning under Mr. Green’s direction.
“Messiah by Candlelight,” on Friday, December 16, and Saturday, December 17, at 8 p.m., include Part I (sometimes referred to as the Christmas portion of the work) and selections from Parts II and III. The final performance on Sunday, December 18, at 3 p.m., includes Part I plus a carol sing-along with J. Ernest Green.
For these performances, Live Arts Maryland welcomes a quartet of stellar soloists who perform with LAM for the first time. Thomas Young, tenor, and Gary Simpson, baritone, have done it all, from Broadway musicals to classic opera. Mr. Young was also member of the group, Three Mo’ Tenors. Mr. Simpson is a Metropolitan Opera Principle Artist, and has performed in operas around the world as well as in the HBO/Cinemax series, “The Knick.” Soprano Katie Dixon’s voice was described by “Opera News” as, “a natural with a sparkling personality and top notes to match.” Mezzo soprano Kara Sainz earned two degrees from The Juilliard School, most recently a Master of Music. Of these performers, Mr. Green says, “We’re thrilled to bring these voices to Annapolis for our Messiah performances this year. Each of our soloists has a most amazing gift and I think our audiences will love them.”
Tickets for all Live Arts Maryland holiday concerts are on sale now at the Maryland Hall Box Office at 410-280-5640. Online, tickets are available at www.liveartsmaryland.org. The Student Rush free ticket program is in effect for “Messiah.” Additional information on all guest artists and concerts can also be found at www.liveartsmaryland.org.
Live Arts Maryland, J. Ernest Green, Music Director, is one of the region’s largest and most active non-profit arts organizations and is home to the Annapolis Chorale, the Annapolis Chamber Orchestra, Cantori and the free St. Anne’s Concert Series. It offers music education programs for singers of all ages, including the Student Rush free ticket program, a scholarship program for high-school music students and workshops for adults. The Annapolis Chorale is a resident company of Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts and is supported by the Maryland State Arts Council, the Arts Council of Anne Arundel County and the City of Annapolis.