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Fredonia holiday concert goes virtual on Tuesday

Submitted photo Lou Giovanetti, center, a 1988 graduate of the State University at Fredonia, offers a jazzed up take on “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town,” for the “Virtual Alumni Christmas Pops Concert” on Dec. 15. Giovanetti is one of 15 alumni performers taking part in the concert.

The Rockefeller Arts Center at the State University at Fredonia will continue its longstanding tradition of presenting a Christmas pops concert this December, albeit in a new format.

The “Virtual Alumni Christmas Pops Concert” will make its debut online on Tuesday, Dec. 15, at 7:30 p.m., via Rockefeller’s YouTube channel at youtube.com/RockefellerArtsCntr. This is a free event. Links will also be available of Rockefeller Arts Center’s Facebook page and web site (fredonia.edu/rac)

The “Virtual Alumni Christmas Pops Concert” will feature a lineup of 15 all-star alumni performers, many of whom performed in September of 2019 as part of Rockefeller’s “50th Anniversary Gala Pops Concert.”

With COVID-19 restrictions keeping live events on hold in New York state, Rockefeller Director Jefferson Westwood began making plans in September to produce the traditional Christmas show in a virtual format.

“So many of our patrons look forward to our Christmas shows,” Westwood said. “I did not want them to be disappointed.”

The idea of inviting Fredonia alumni to perform was an obvious one after the overwhelming success of the 50th anniversary concert.

“That was a very special concert,” Westwood said. “Many people said it was the best concert they had ever been to – and the performances drew three standing ovations.”

Returning for the “Virtual Alumni Christmas Pops Concert” are:

¯ Lance Bryant, a vocal performance major who is currently the musical director for The Platters.

¯ Sandra Dudley, a voice major who is a professor of commercial voice at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn.

¯ Lou Giovanetti, a musical theatre major who has appeared on Broadway in “Damn Yankees.”

¯ Devon Goffman, a musical theatre major who has toured with Gloria Estefan.

¯ Marcus Goldhaber, a musical theatre major who is now a songwriter and performer based in New York City.

¯ Evan Harrington, a musical theatre major who has Broadway acting credits including “Phantom of the Opera” and “Chicago.”

¯ Paul Marinaro, a voice major who is now a Chicago-based jazz vocalist who tours nationally.

¯ Anne Martinez, an acting major who now performs in Las Vegas as a singer, dancer and actress.

¯ Alissa Stahler, a vocal performance major who is now a performer based in New York City.

¯ Debbie Williams, a musical theatre major who is now a Nashville-based singer.

Joining them will be:

¯ Nia Drummond, a voice major who is now a performer based in New York City. She previously appeared as part of Rockefeller’s presentation of “An Evening of Ella and Ellington” with the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra.

¯ Susan Haefner, a musical theatre major who is acclaimed as an actor, director, choreographer, teacher, producer and arts administrator. She has worked on Broadway, national and international tours.

¯ Michael Hawk, a voice major who is now a member of the Los Angeles Opera’s Young Artist Program. He made his LA Opera debut as Prince Arjuna in Satyagraha in October of 2018.

¯ Clint Holmes, a Las Vegas headliner who attended Fredonia in the mid-1960s as a vocal music major.

¯ Jason Ostrowski, a musical theatre major has credits on Broadway including Stephen Sondheim’s “Company” and a national tour of “Les Miserables.”

Also taking part will be Fredonia Voices, a vocal jazz group which has participated in past Pops shows.

Each of the performers will create and submit a video of his or her performance. These clips will then be arranged to create a comprehensive performance that will air on Dec. 15.

From carols like “O Tannenbaum,” to Christmas classics like “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” and holiday chestnuts including “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “Winter Wonderland,” this concert has something for everyone. There are even Christmas numbers with a rock ‘n’ roll flavor like Elton John’s “Step Into Christmas,” John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (The War is Over)” and Elvis Presley’s “Blue Christmas.”

The “Virtual Alumni Christmas Pops Concert” is a DFT Communications Pops Series event.

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