UNCSA's The Nutcracker, Swingle Bells, Winston-Salem Theatre Alliance's White Christmas, and More
Russian composer Peter Illyich Tchaikovsky created the wonderful score to the Nutcracker Ballet. The work premiered on December 18, 1892 in St. Petersberg, Russian.
It was on a double-bill with his opera, Iolanta, and you can probably guess which one withstood the test of time. Not a lot of Iolanta performances going on right now. To be honest though, even the complete Nutcracker took a good long while to catch on with audiences. But once it did, beginning in the late 1960s, it never let up. In fact it was back in 1965 that one of the earliest schools in the country to fully embrace The Nutcracker Ballet as both a performance vehicle and educational tool for its students was none other than the then NC School of the Arts in Winston-Salem.
Katharine Laidlaw is certainly no stranger to enormous student productions. As UNC School of the Arts Executive Producer she’s overseen Oklahoma!, Stravinsky's Rite of Spring celebration, and The Nutcracker Ballet just to name a few. During its nine-day run at the Stevens Center this incredible, annual student production brings world-class performance quality to Triad audiences while and at the same time it raises money for scholarships to the school. Katharine stopped by with UNCSA Symphony Orchestra Music Director Christopher James Lees to talk about it.
The Nutcracker Ballet, under the artistic direction of Assistant Dean of the School of Dance Jared Redick runs December 12th through the 21st at the Stevens Center with evening performances at 7:30 pm and weekend matinees at 2:00 pm. Renowned featured guest artists, Boston Ballet’s Whitney Jensen (the Sugar Plum Fairy) and Yury Yanowsky (her Cavalier Prince) will dance their respective roles on Friday night December 12th, and Saturday night, the 13th.
The Carolina Winter Music Festival presents Swingle Bells in the Triad with the mighty Giannini Brass, singer Martha Bassett, and the Christmas Jazz All Stars with bassist Matt Kendrick and friends. Swingle Bells!: A Very Jazzy Christmas concert will be Tuesday, December 2 @ 7:30 p.m. in the James A. Gray, Jr. Auditorium, of Old Salem Visitor Center. “Sleigh Ride,” “Let it Snow,” “The Christmas Song,” “You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and much more. Featured artists are singer Martha Bassett, pianist Federico Pivetta, Matt Kendrick on bass, drummer John Wilson, and the Giannini Brass: trumpeters Anita Cirba and Ken Wilmot, French hornist Joe Mount, Chris Ferguson, trombonist and tubist Matt Ransom. General Admission tickets are $20 and just $5 Students/Children. You’ll find links to more information at wfdd.org and click on triadartsweekend. In the meantime, get ready to swing with Giannini Brass, and W-S Symphony French horn player Joe Mount.
“White Christmas” based on the 1954 film starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen follows WWII Veterans Bob Wallace and Phil Davis on their post-war song and dance tour, and their eventual hot pursuit of a beautiful singing sisters duo. Winston-Salem Theatre Alliance actor Mary Isom plays the younger sister Judy Hanes. She’s joined by David Joy who plays Captain Bob Wallace.
“White Christmas” featuring more than a dozen of Irving Berlin’s classical songs, dance, laughs two love stories and more comes to the WSTA Friday, December 5 where it’ll run through the 22nd with evening shows at 8:00 pm and weekend matinees at 2:00 pm.
Joe Pecorraro and Anthony Dean Griffey
Next week four-time Grammy award winning tenor, and High Point native Anthony Dean Griffey will begin a week long engagement with Houston Grand Opera narrating a world premiere arrangement of A Christmas Carol conducted by Warren Jones before January and February performances with Tuscon Symphony, and spring concerts at UNC Chapel Hill, and Carnegie Hall. Tony’s also a Distinguished Artist in Residence at UNC School of the Arts in Winston-Salem where he has partnered with one of the greatest classical guitarists of his generation, international soloist and UNCSA faculty Joseph Pecoraro.
Their most recent collaboration is This Little Light, a Christmas album, featuring Joe’s gorgeous arrangements. We’ll be sampling from them throughout the interview. From the beginning of his career, Tony’s been active in many charitable efforts, and this this interview was recorded just prior to a benefit concert for Open Door Ministries—Local Homeless Shelter in High Point.