Nothing gets many of us into the holiday spirit more than a little music and entertainment.
The Battle Creek area has plenty of them in the coming month, either to get you in the mood for the holidays or perhaps as a gift idea in the form of tickets to an upcoming show.
For many, the Battle Creek Holiday Concert Brass Band is the unofficial start of the holiday season and will be the centerpiece of the WK Kellogg Auditorium on Saturday.
“For many of the families and longtime patrons, it’s the thing that kicks off their holiday season. It’s their way of immersing themselves in the Christmas spirit,” said Shannon Aikins, executive director of the Brass Band of Battle Creek.
One of Battle Creek’s own, Broadway star Doug LaBrecque, will join the Brass Band this year. The Lakeview High School graduate thrilled audiences in New York for nearly two decades starring in “Phantom of the Opera” as well as “Showboat” and on a national tour of “Les Misérables.”
“We can’t tell you how excited we are for this concert,” Aikins said. “Having a guest artist like Doug LaBrecque, a hometown native, is great. He’s never performed with the Battle Creek Brass Band. He usually performs with the Battle Creek Symphony.”
The Battle Creek Brass Band has established itself over the past 25 years as one of the premier ensembles in the country, with a membership of some of the top brass and percussion artists in the world who come to Battle Creek as visiting artists from bands and orchestras ranging from Canada to England as well as the New York Orchestra-Metropolitan Opera and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.
Along with LaBrecque, this year’s Holiday Concert will also include special guest and internationally acclaimed trombonist Joseph Alessi, principal trombonist of the New York Philharmonic.
Apart from the 7.30pm main show on Saturday, the Brass Band is inviting schools in the area to a rehearsal during the week and there will also be the BBBC Young Peoples Concert at 10am on Friday at the auditorium.
“Having Doug LaBrecque is tremendous for us,” said Jerry Rose, BBBC education director. “He’s been on stages all over the world. I’m looking forward to seeing him combine his considerable talent with the superstars we’ll have on stage from the brass and percussion world. It’s going to be a real treat.
“The rehearsal experience is wonderful. I think, for the young music students who come for it, it can be more informative than a concert, because they can see how the band comes together and how it works. And for me, the Young Peoples Concert is a real biggie. It’s a cut-down version of our holiday concert for elementary students that we’re adapting to be more interesting for the younger kids. We have 10 different schools and 1,800 kids coming.”
Tickets are available online at www.bbbc.net.
Ada LeAnn performs at Franke Center
Giving the gift of music is always a great idea, so why not buy someone a ticket to see a show after the holidays are over. Battle Creek’s Ada LeAnn will perform at the Franke Center in Marshall on Feb. 25, with tickets on sale now.
LeAnn, a senior at Lakeview High School, was recently in the national spotlight as a contestant on the Great American Song Contest on NBC, representing Michigan. LeAnn reached the semi-finals on the show with her song, “Natalie”. She has since won Single of the Year for at the 8th Annual Josie Music Awards, where she performed on the Grand Ole Opry House stage in Nashville.
Performing at the Franke Center would be her first theatrical performance devoted entirely to her performance. Furthermore, she has appeared locally at various fairs and events in the past year.
“Performing at the Franke Center is going to be a great opportunity for me,” LeAnn said. “This is one of my first shows that I can put on that is exclusively for me and people come just for me. Not for a festival or fair and not just for background entertainment. This is my show and I’m so excited to have time to spend to create a show that showcases my artistry and original music.”
LeAnn will also sing locally at Handmap Brewery December 21st and at Kalamazoo’s New Year’s Eve Festival on December 31st.
Tickets for the Franke Center show can be purchased at www.thefranke.org
Christmas at the Barn Theatre
One of the more anticipated entertainment events in the area in recent years has been the annual Christmas Cabaret at the Augusta Barn Theatre. Staged at the Rehearsal Barn on the grounds of the Barn Theatre, there will be performances throughout the month, from 9 to 22 December with weeknights at 7pm and two chances on Saturdays and Sundays at 2pm and 7pm
The entertainers featured each year at the summer stock theater will celebrate the season with favorite carols and holiday songs.
Tickets are available at www.barntheatreschool.org.
Instead of singing, how about holiday entertainment in the spoken word?
The Battle Creek Regional History Museum presents “Tales of Christmas Past,” featuring readings of old-time newspaper stories from the 1800s. Among the performers will be Dave Eddy, Bobbie Mathis, Donna Rickman, Michael Delaware and Brian and Jill McCombs. There will be two shows at 14:00 and 18:00 on December 17.
For tickets or more information, go to www.bcrhm.org
Bill Broderick can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @billbroderick