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Holiday classics get big band treatment for Fredonia pops series event
Friday, November 21, 2014

 Holiday classics get big band treatment for Fredonia pops series event

Student vocalists who will be featured in “The 2014 Big Band Christmas Spectacular” at Fredonia’s Rockefeller Arts Center are, from left, Dylan Greene, Lucia Helgren, Vaughn Faison, Carly Dieck, Justin Burr, Meghan Johnson, Rusty Ritzel and Lucy Bell.

Some of the most beloved Christmas classics of all time will come to life once again in big band style at Fredonia when Rockefeller Arts Center presents “The 2014 Big Band Christmas Spectacular” on Thursday, Dec. 11 at 7:30 p.m. in King Concert Hall.

While the show follows the format of 2012’s sold-out “Big Band Christmas Spectacular,” the production will feature a dozen new numbers and a few of the most popular tunes from the 2012 show – all presented in big band style.

Rockefeller Arts Center Director Jefferson Westwood is the show’s producer.

“Our first-ever ‘Big Band Christmas Spectacular’ in December 2012 was a smashing success,” Westwood said. “It was the first show to completely sell out King Concert Hall in the last 25 years, other than Yo-Yo Ma. Audiences begged us to do it again and we are happy to oblige. For 2014, we are planning to mount a similar, but by no means identical, show.”

New material includes vocal solos of “Let it Snow,” “This Christmas,” “I’ll be Home for Christmas” and “Jingle Bell Rock;” a duet of “Mary, Did You Know” and vocal quartets of “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” and a medley of traditional Christmas carols.

The dance numbers include “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” and a very energetic version of “Frosty the Snowman.” Instrumental numbers include a medley of familiar melodies from the Charlie Brown Christmas specials and a hauntingly beautiful arrangement of “Oh Holy Night” featuring a high trumpet solo.

The student vocalists for the concert are:

• Lucy Bell, a sophomore Journalism and Audio Production major who sings with the college Jazz Ensemble.

• Justin Burr, a sophomore Musical Theater major who is a voice student of Shinobu Takagi. Justin recently made his Fredonia stage debut in the ensemble of the Hillman Opera production of “Susannah.”

• Carly Dieck, a sophomore Musical Theatre major with past credits including “Children of Eden,” “Working,” “Once Upon A Mattress” and “Guys and Dolls.”

• Vaughn Faison, a senior Applied Music (voice) major who most recently performed with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.

• Dylan Greene, a senior Music Education major who studies with Daniel Ihasz. He performed in the 2010 and 2014 commencement eve pops concerts and in the Hillman Opera production of “Susannah.”

• Lucia Helgren, a sophomore Vocal Performance major who studies with Julie Newell. Her past credits include the ensemble of the Hillman Opera production of “Susannah.”

• Meghan Johnson, a junior Childhood Inclusive Education major with a concentration in music. She studies with Casey Gray and is a vocalist for college’s Wednesday Night Big Band.

• Rusty Ritzel, a senior Music Education and Theatre Production major who appeared in the 2013 Commencement eve pops concert and in the Hillman Opera production of “Susannah.”

They will be performing with the Little Apple Big Band, a 17-piece professional ensemble under the direction of Bruce Johnstone, director of Jazz Studies at Fredonia.

Four student dancers will also be featured in the concert including Ilana Lieberman, Jenna Vezina, Adam Ali and Trevor Northrup.

Tickets are available through the Fredonia Ticket Office in the Williams Center, by phone at 673-3501 and online at

“The 2014 Big Band Christmas Spectacular” is a DFT Communications Pops Series event sponsored by Bahgat and Laurito-Bahgat, Certified Public Accountants, as part of the 2014-15 Lake Shore Savings Season.

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