ASO celebrates the season

The Alpena Symphony Orchestra will present “A Holiday Celebration,” their ninth annual concert of festive seasonal music this Sunday at 3 p.m. in the Alpena High School Auditorium. Once again, special guests for the performance will be the Alpena High School Concert Choir, directed by Jean Martin-Brown.

There will also be a special guest conductor, David Sawtelle of the Crooked Tree Art Center in Petoskey. Currently an orchestra instructor at the center, Sawtelle also leads a full private music lesson studio, performs with the Up North Big Band and also in a local pop band. A multi-instrumentalist, he plays both string and wind instruments.

Sawtelle comes to Michigan from Texas; he holds music degrees from West Texas State University and Texas State University. He has taught instrumental music in the El Paso, Los Angeles, Georgetown and Austin school districts.

He has also been the assistant director of the El Paso Youth Symphony and the Pacific Palisades Symphony Orchestra. As well, Sawtelle has served as the conductor of the El Paso Symphonic Wind Ensemble and Pflugerville Youth Orchestra, among others. He was a prize winner at the Accademia dell ‘Arte di Firenze Symphony Conductors’ Competition. Most recently, he directed the Little Traverse Choral Society for their 2012-13 season.

The concert will begin with the celebrated Concerto VIII, Opus 6, No. 8, the “Christmas Concerto” by Arcangelo Corelli. Soloists are violinists Dr. Eric Lawson, Lorna Demeritt-Uber and cellist Cynthia Atkinson. This will be followed by the second movement, ‘Andante espressivo” of Dag Wiren’s “String Serenade.” Both pieces will be performed by the ASO strings.

The Alpena High School Concert Choir will then take the stage with their director to perform “Why We Sing” by Greg Gilpen, “Ya Ba Bom” (There Shall Be Peace), a Jewish folk song, arranged by Maurice Goldman, and “Venite Adoremus Dominum” (Joy to the World) arranged by Jerry Estes.

The choir will go on to sing a number of choruses from George Frederic Handel’s “Messiah,” accompanied by a chamber ensemble of the ASO. These will include “Let All the Angels of God Worship,” “But Thanks Be to God,” “He Shall Purify the Sons of Levi,” and lastly the famous “Hallelujah Chorus.” The ensemble will also play the instrumental “Pastorale.”

After an intermission, the concert will continue with the Beginning String Ensemble playing “String a Song of Christmas” arranged by Edmund J. Siennicki. The full orchestra will then come on to entertain the audience with “The Bells of Christmas” arranged by Bob Krogstaf, and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” arranged by Jerry Brubaker.

The AHS Concert Choir will then return to join the ASO in three holiday medleys: “Our Winter Wonderland” arranged by Audrey Snyder and Paul Murtha; “A Christmas Festival” by crowd favorite Leroy Anderson (of “Sleigh Ride” fame); and “Holiday Favorites” arranged by Roger Emerson and Paul Lavender.

The audience will be invited to sing along with this last medley, to close out the concert, and song sheets will be provided. The audience is also invited to the afterglow reception in the lobby after the concert.

Tickets for this musical holiday celebration are $10 for adults, $5 for students; children age 5 and under will be admitted free. A special family ticket at $25 will be available for those with multiple school-age children.

Advance tickets can be purchased at Neiman’s Family Market, but tickets will also be sold at the door.