‘Happy Holidays’ a chance to the classics | TheUnion.com

‘Happy Holidays’ a chance to the classics

The Music in the Mountains Orchestra and Chorus will be led by Resident Conductor and Choral Director, Maestro Ryan Murray, which will be his tenth holiday concert.
Submitted photo to Prospector |

This December, the Music in the Mountains Orchestra and Chorus kicks off “the most wonderful time of year” with “Happy Holidays,” a festive, family-friendly concert that features traditional holiday classics, favorite sing-a-long carols, special guest soloists, and the region’s premier of Ottorino Respighi’s Laud to the Nativity.

Regarded as one of the region’s premier holiday concerts, Music in the Mountains transforms the Amaral Center at the Nevada County Fairgrounds into a gorgeous vision of holiday splendor while the 25 piece professional orchestra and 80 member chorus entertains and inspires listeners with such beloved songs as “Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” “First Noel,” “Hark the Herald,” “Carol of the Bells,” “O Holy Night,” and “Chalom Chaverim.”

“It’s a beautiful way to celebrate the magic of the season through the songs that we all know and love,” said Dr. Mieko Hatano, executive director of Music in the Mountains. “Music in general, but especially holiday music, has the ability to transcend everything and bring us together.”

This year’s concert is once again led by Music in the Mountains Resident Conductor and Choral Director, Maestro Ryan Murray. It is Murray’s tenth holiday concert and he promises audiences will enjoy their traditional favorites along with several new pieces, performances and performers.

“I am fairly certain the little known, but exquisite Christmas cantata “Laud to the Nativity” by Ottorino Respighi, will be an area premier,” said Murray. “It will be sung in English and Italian.”

“Laud to the Nativity” (Lauda per la Natività del Signore) is the only sacred choral piece composed by famed Italian violinist, composer and musicologist Ottorino Respighi.

In this song of praise to the miracle of Christmas, majestic sounding choral passages alternate with the soloistic roles of Maria, the Angel and the shepherd, accompanied by the sound of pastoral instruments.

The music is varied, containing stylistic elements ranging from the late romantic to neo baroque, as well as echoes of Gregorian chant. And towering above all is Respighi’s trademark: the art of orchestration.

This year’s concert also features a lineup of world-class soloists including soprano Kathleen Magee Querec, mezzo-soprano Danielle Bond, and tenor Jonathan Hansen.

Querec’s voice “brings to mind rivers in the Rockies, with clarity and crispness underlying her instinctive tender performance style” (Contra Costa Times). She made her Lincoln Center debut with New York City Opera singing Yvette in “Puccini’s La Rondine” in 2003.

Querec most recently sang the role of Berta in “The Barber of Seville” with Townsend Opera at The Gallo Center in Modesto, after working with Maestro Ryan Murray in Music in the Mountains Choral and Orchestra Spring Concert as the soprano soloist in Haydn’s “Little Organ Mass” and Dan Forrest’s “Requiem for the Living.”

Having a love of new music, she has performed many new compositions for Music In The Mountains Young Composers Project. Over the past three seasons, she made multiple appearances with Music in the Mountains and the Nevada County Composers Cooperative singing settings of Shakespeare’s Sonnets 64 and 65 for voice and harp by Jozi Gullickson. She sang an encore performance of Kia Montana Smith’s “Mewlips” at the Music In The Mountains Summerfest, mainstage concert in June, 2016.

Mezzo-soprano Danielle Marcelle Bond’s rich, expansive voice is beautifully matched with her engaging acting abilities and musical intelligence. She was part of the Grammy Award winning cast for 2017’s Best Opera Recording as Witness 3 in “L.A. Opera’s Ghosts of Versailles” and sang on the Grammy award event in 2017.

She has been hailed by the L.A. Times with a “Brava!” for her performance in Long Beach Opera’s production of John Adams’ “Death of Klinghoffer.”

She has charmed audiences in roles such as Carmen, for which Singerpreneur praised her “luscious voice that filled the theater, her intense middle voice ringing with the freedom of her technique.” Her solo concert work includes Verdi’s Requiem, JS Bach’s Mass in B Minor, the Magnificats of JS & CPE Bach, Handel’s Messiah and Dvorak’s Stabat Mater.

Tenor Jonathan Hansen performs frequently in the area as both a soloist and chorister. He has performed principal roles for the Sacramento Philharmonic Opera and Village Opera. He has been active in the opera program of California State University, Sacramento as well.

An actor before he was a singer, Hansen also appears occasionally in non-musical productions, including the role of Cletis in Resurrection Theater’s production of “Lonestar,” Joseph Conrad in Big Idea Theatre’s production of Don Nigro’s “The Ogre,” Lieutenant Lustig in California Stage’s radio broadcast of Ray Bradbury’s “Mars is Heaven,” and the Voice of the Book in Lightning Rod Radio’s production of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: the Complete Radio Scripts.”

In addition to this, Hansel also co-hosts the weekly improv-comedy podcast “Wasting ALL the Time.”

There are two opportunities to see “Happy Holidays,” with an evening concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, and a matinee at 2 p.m. Sunday.

On Saturday, at 11 a.m., Music in the Mountains will also present a free shortened version of “Happy Holidays” (45-minutes) special for children and families. Each performance welcomes the entire family to celebrate in the magic of the holiday season through the beauty of its music.

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