PORTLAND — The Friends of the Kotzschmar Organ have announced thatthis year’s holiday concert, “Christmas with Kennerley,” will be held one night only at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 18. The city’s new municipal organist, James Kennerley, is excited for his first Christmas concert at Merrill Auditorium.

“Playing the Kotzschmar organ is always such a delight and an adventure,” Kennerley said. “This organ is such an impressive instrument and I’m thrilled to be a part of this beloved holiday tradition with music — it is not to be missed.”

The program will include a variety of holiday classics, from traditional carols to modern favorites. Kennerley will perform for the first time his new transcription of the traditional Christmas ballet, Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker.” Metropolitan Opera star soprano and Maine native, Ashley Emerson, will sing Kennerley’s arrangements of “O’ Holy Night” and a number of other pieces arranged especially for this concert. The ChoralArt Singers will lend their dulcet voices to Christmas carols old and new — including favorites to sing along to — and will give the first performance of Kennerley’s new “Carol of the Bells,” which he composed earlier this year.

Also included in the program is Anthony DiLorenzo’s “‘Twas The Night Before Christmas,” a witty musical setting with narration of that famous Christmas story performed by the thrilling sounds of the Kotzschmar Festival Brass & Percussion ensemble; a Baroque Christmas with glorious music from Venice and Germany; and Kennerley performing an improvisation on seasonal melodies selected by the audience.

As Kennerley is known for his flamboyant and colorful socks when he plays the organ, the Friends of the Kotzschmar Organ will use “Christmas with Kennerley” as an opportunity to have a sock drive to collect new socks for those in need within the community.

Dan D’Ippolito, community engagement director of Preble Street, a human service agency empowering people experiencing problems with homelessness, housing, hunger, and poverty, said “Socks are the most requested garment at Preble Street and shelters nationwide.” Concertgoers may bring socks to Merrill Auditorium on the night of the concert.

The evening begins at 7 p.m. with the prelude, including 20 minutes of music by The Parish Rangers; the concert starts at 7:30 p.m., featuring Kennerly, soprano Ashley Emerson, Kotzschmar Festival Brass and the ChoralArt Singers.

Tickets available at PortTIX and by calling 207-842-0800.


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