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MIM hosts weekend of holiday shows

When it comes to holiday celebrations, it’s clear Music in the Mountains (MIM) knows how to put on a show — from the packed lawns at the Nevada County Fairgrounds for the Fourth of July concert to the decked out Amaral Center during the Christmas season.

As the nonprofit performing arts organization heads into its big concert weekend, organizers say this year will be no different, featuring old favorites, new surprises and even a rumored visit by St. Nick himself.

“There are new, exciting things this year. … but mixed with old favorites,” said MIM Choral Conductor Ryan Murray.



There are three MIM performances this weekend: a Holiday Children’s Concert at 11 a.m. Saturday, followed by the annual Holiday Pops Concert at 7:30 that evening and a matinee performance at 2 p.m. Sunday.

The special performance for children comes on the heels of the sold out Family Music Faire this summer. The show, a shortened version of the Holiday Pops concert, will feature the MIM Choir, sing-a-longs and more audience engagement with Murray. He will spend time explaining parts of the performance to youth.




The young conductor is no stranger to working with children. Murray, 27, has taught music in an elementary school and worked with youth programs in the past. He spent a lot of his youth performing in choirs and music groups as well.

Murray graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with a bachelor’s degree in voice performance and bassoon performance. He credits being in the right place at the right time for the opportunity to conduct’s MIM choir. Shortly after he completed school, while looking for work, he came up to Grass Valley to perform with a group. He met Paul Perry, the former artistic director of MIM and the rest is history. He’s been with MIM for four years.

For this weekend’s concerts Murray will conduct a 96-member choir which will be accompanied by a brass quintet and percussion.

Murray said he looks forward to the Holiday Pops concerts because it kicks off the season for him.

“There are over 100 people on stage and also the audience singing along. It’s really a fun event,” Murray said.

Along with a selection of audience favorites, the concerts will feature an original piece by local composer Mark Vance and a lot of new arrangements ordered by Murray. The mix of music will create a new experience this year for those who attended last year and showcase a range of holiday music for people who have not been to a Pops concert.

Vance’s piece was originally created in 2004 for the Nevada Union High School Chamber Choir as part of his ongoing music education outreach in the local schools. The a cappella piece needed to be reworked by Vance to suit the addition of the brass quintet and percussion on stage, Vance said.

The addition of the instruments alongside the choir will make the piece powerful, he said.

Vance’s ‘angelus domini’ composition will be performed in Latin.

As a special treat for the performances this weekend, the Foothill Children’s Chorus will join MIM’s Choir for several numbers.

Hear it for yourself Saturday or Sunday. Tickets for the Children’s Holiday Concert are $5 for adults and free for youth. Saturday and Sunday’s Holiday Pops Concert tickets range from $15 to $40.

To purchase tickets or for information, go to http://www.musicinthemountains.org.

Features Editor Brett Bentley can be contacted at bbentley@theunion.com.


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