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MiM holiday favorites return

Music in the Mountains will host its traditional holiday concerts beginning this weekend at the Nevada County Fairgrounds.
Submitted by Simon Weller |

Know & Go

WHO: Music in the Mountains presents

WHAT: Holiday Festival Concerts, Children’s Concert, and Messiah Community Sing-Along

WHERE: Concerts at Amaral Center, Nevada County Fairgrounds; Community Sing-Along at Peace Lutheran Church, Grass Valley

WHEN: Saturday: Children’s Concert 11 a.m.; Holiday Favorites Concert, 7 p.m. Sunday: Holiday Favorites Concert, 2 p.m. Friday, Dec. 20, Messiah Sing-Along 7 p.m.

TICKETS: Youth 17 and under free are free to Children’s Concert; adults $5. Holiday Favorites Concert, $5 to $42. Messiah Sing-Along free; donations appreciated. MiM Box Office, 530 Searls Ave., Nevada City; 530-265-6124,

INFO: info@musicinthemountains.org or http://musicinthemountains.org.

“This is our traditional holiday concert that people all know and love – but with the addition of the orchestra this year, everything is going to have a new look and sound to it,” promised Ryan Murray, the newly appointed resident conductor of Music in the Mountains.

“So even if they feel like they’ve seen it before, it’s going to be completely revamped this year. It’s definitely worth coming to see again,” added Murray, who has served as choral director for MiM since 2008.

This weekend Murray and MiM will present two Holiday Favorites Concerts in the Amaral Center at the Nevada County Fairgrounds, as well as a special Children’s Concert.



The annual Holiday Favorites Concerts will be performed at 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. The Children’s Concert kicks off the weekend of performances at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Youth 17 and under will be admitted free to the Children’s Concert. Tickets otherwise will range from $5 to $42.




Additionally, 7 p.m. Dec. 20, Murray will lead a community sing-along of Handel’s complete “Messiah” at Peace Lutheran Church in Grass Valley. This highly popular event is free (although donations are welcomed).

“Come early,” suggested Cristine Kelly, executive director of MiM. Because the highly popular community sing-along is so close to Christmas, there is a chance the church could reach capacity, she explained.

New this year

The big change in this year’s holiday concerts is the addition of a “chamber orchestra” (about 20 musicians instead of the usual 60) to accompany his “100-voice chorus,” Murray said. The orchestra will include special guest Stephen Janzen on digital pipe organ.

Also, as an added treat, “We’ve got the Lyman Gilmore Middle School Choir singing with us” for a few numbers.

MiM’s Facebook page bills the Lyman Gilmore singers as “our very own choir of angels.”

“I have never, ever heard my little choir of seventh- and eighth-graders referred to as a choir of angels. That cracks me up,” laughed Ginny Trapani. Besides leading the advanced choir at Lyman Gilmore, Trapani is a soprano in the MiM Chorus.

Nevertheless, “They are wonderful, caring, and hard-working kids who warm my heart. I am thrilled that they have the opportunity to perform with a group of musicians as talented and serious as the Music in the Mountains Chorus and Orchestra,” she said.

Then and now

“We’ve got music from the 1700s all the way up to 2013,” Murray said. “We’ve got the old classics, and we’ve got some new classics in there as well.”

While not exactly a classic (yet), the MiM holiday concert will debut “a brand new piece by local composer Jerry Grant,” Murray said. It’s called “Hear the Bells.”

Ryan added: “We have some real traditional carols, like ‘Hark the Heralds Sing,’ ‘Joy to the World’ and ‘Silent Night.’

“But we also have some newer carols. We’re doing the famous ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,’ ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,’ and we’re doing ‘Rudolph’ and ‘Frosty’ for the first time.”

That’s not all.

“We’re also doing a very difficult and exciting version of the ‘Twelve Days of Christmas.’ And even older than that, we’ve got three choruses of Handel’s ‘Messiah’ — including the ‘Hallelujah’ chorus.”

Just for kids

A major element of the mission of MiM is to integrate an interactive experience for children, emphasized Kelly. It’s especially important to expose children to music they’ve never heard before.

“The kids’ concert is going to draw from the same pool of music,” Murray said, adding that no piece will be longer than five minutes, and the entire concert will only be about 40 minutes long.

“We’ll get the kids singing along. We’ll also introduce the different instruments of the orchestra and talk about the different voices in the choir, so it’s an education experience as well as a concert-going experience,” he added.

There also a rumor that Santa Claus might make a surprise visit to pass out treats.

The Children’s Concert is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Children and youth 17 and under will be admitted free. Adult tickets are $5 — but no one will be turned away for lack of funds, Kelly said.

“Bringing beautiful music to everyone who would like to hear it is the heart and soul of MiM. It’s our Christmas present to the community,” she said.

Tom Durkin is a freelance writer and photographer in Nevada City. He can be contacted at tdurkin@vfr.net.


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