Arrowhead Chorale performs 'Happy Holidays with Jerry' this weekend

Spirit, emotion, energy and tradition. These are the words that Jerry Rubino used to describe what a holiday concert should be. He will have a chance to show that to audiences this weekend as he makes an appearance as guest conductor of the Arrow...

Spirit, emotion, energy and tradition. These are the words that Jerry Rubino used to describe what a holiday concert should be. He will have a chance to show that to audiences this weekend as he makes an appearance as guest conductor of the Arrowhead Chorale for a set of holiday concerts entitled "Happy Holidays with Jerry."

This will be Rubino's third appearance as guest conductor of the Arrowhead Chorale, with previous performances in 1999 and 2000.

"I really like him," said Jane Killough about Rubino. "He knows exactly what he wants. He knows how to tell you to get across what he wants." Killough has been with the Arrowhead Chorale for 14 years.

Rubino, formerly of the Dale Warland Singers and Warland Cabaret Singers, is currently editing a collection of Christmas choral music for Oxford Press that includes some of his own jazzy arrangements and new arrangements of classic Christmas songs by 12 conductors. "A Merry Little Christmas" is due to be released in spring 2004. He will premiere five of these new arrangements at the concerts this weekend. "These are pop songs, and these are songs everyone will know," said Rubino.

The concerts will include familiar holiday songs done in a variety of styles. "I chose a repertoire that is really audience friendly," he said.


The concerts will be presented in six sections. They will open with music from around the world, including songs from France, Canada, Israel, Sweden and England. The second part features the Big Lake Brass Quintet. The quintet was formed in 1999 and includes musicians from the Duluth area. The first half will end with a series of classical Christmas motets.

When the audience returns from an intermission, it will be treated to the premier of Rubino's arrangement of "We Need A Little Christmas," and songs by other conductors from the "A Merry Little Christmas" collection, such as "Feliz Navidad," "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" and "Christmas is Here."

"So that starts the second part with a bang," said Rubino. "But just because they are familiar does not mean that they are simple."

Rubino said that holiday concerts are a way to celebrate traditions and bring the community together. To involve the audience, a sing-along is included in the fifth part of the concert, including the brass quintet. "When the brass starts letting it rip the audience goes 'yeah,'" he said. "We're doing a series of Christmas pieces. These are real traditional texts."

Rubino said that all of the composers of the versions that will be performed are still alive. "And I know them all, so it's sort of fun to do music by people I know."

The holiday concerts will end with a set of traditional carols such as "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" and "Angels We Have Heard On High." The Arrowhead Chorale began practicing the pieces for the holiday concerts after their show in October.

"There isn't anything I don't like in it," said Killough. She said that there is a lot of variety and a lot of pop and vocal jazz in the music. "And Jerry's very good at that; we're learning a lot. It makes it interesting and fun. I like the variety."

Rubino has made several trips to Duluth for rehearsals from the Twin Cities area, where he serves as minister of music at Spirit of Hope United Methodist Church in Golden Valley. In 2004, he will return for his third appointment as Distinguished Visiting Professor of Music at Carleton College in Northfield.



He began his teaching career in 1974 and continues to be involved in educational opportunities with young people every time he visits the Duluth area. He serves as an educational consultant for the chorale in area high schools and colleges. Last week, he spent time working with groups at Hermantown High School.

"I always find kids to be so rewarding. Adults are too, but they tend to be less spontaneous." Rubino said that in today's society there are more ways to communicate and changes have made life faster. "The thing about the arts is that it hasn't changed."

He said it is still about learning how to sing. "The magic happens when you get beyond that, to get to the part when the goose bumps happen.

"Go into the goose bump mode, and it's risky to do that, and the arts help us to do that. I feel so fortunate to make my living at making music."

"Happy Holidays With Jerry" will be performed on Friday, Dec. 19, at 7:30 p.m. at St. Francis Xavier Church in Superior, on Saturday Dec. 20, at 7:30 p.m. at the Weber Music Hall on the UMD campus, and on Sunday Dec. 21, at 3 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center of the Hinckley-Finlayson High School in Hinckley. Tickets are $12 for adults, $6 for college students, $3 for children in grades kindergarten through 12th, and free for children younger than kindergarten age. To order tickets, or for more information, call 733-7521.

The appearance by Jerry Rubino was made possible by a grant make to the Arrowhead Chorale by the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council.

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