Frank's Weekend Faves, Dec. 2, 2018

Frank's Weekend Faves, Dec. 2, 2018

There's nothing like the holidays to juice up the local music scene, and no venue is busier with musical goings-on this time of year than Krannert Center for the Performing Arts in Urbana. Just check all that's playing this week:

— Today at 3 p.m. in Foellinger Great Hall: the Rolston String Quartet, this year's winner of Chamber Music America's 2018 Cleveland Quartet Award and currently the Yale School of Music's fellowship quartet-in-residence, will perform a program salon-style that includes Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's String Quartet No. 18 in A Major, K. 464; Gyorgy Ligeti's String Quartet No. 1, "Métamorphoses nocturnes"; and Ludwig von Beethoven's String Quartet No. 13 in B-flat Major, Op. 130.

— On Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in Krannert's Studio Theatre, UI School of Music students, led by faculty musicians, will present Jazz Combo Concert I, featuring classic charts by influential writers such as Duke Ellington and Count Basie plus current compositions. At the same time, over in Colwell Playhouse, the UI Percussion Ensemble and Steel Band will be playing calypso, soca, jazz and global styles. Pick your pleasure. You can't go wrong.

— On Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in Studio Theatre, trombonist, composer, educator and prolific recording artist Jim Pugh will lead the UI Jazz Trombone Ensemble on works arranged or written by group members.

— On Thursday, the evening's performances begin at 5 p.m. on Stage 5 with the Central Illinois Children's Chorus performing a variety of holiday songs and carols to celebrate the season. That will be followed at 7:30 p.m. by the Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra's Holiday Glory concert in Krannert's Foellinger Great Hall. Led by CUSO music director and conductor Stephen Alltop, the concert will feature the UI Chamber Singers, conducted by Andrew Megill; and the Central Illinois Children's Chorus, conducted by Andrea Solya. Soloists Josefien Stoppelenburg, soprano, and Kate Tombaugh, mezzo-soprano, will join the Chamber Singers in Antonio Vivaldi's "Gloria," and the voices of the Central Illinois Children's Chorus will be featured in seasonal favorites like "Angels We Have Heard on High," "Carol of the Bells," "Sleigh Ride" and the Hallelujah Chorus from George Frideric Handel's "Messiah." Count on a return visit from Santa as well. But if all that sounds like too much Christmas cheer for your ears, you can always jazz things up over in the Studio Theatre (also at 7:30 p.m. Thursday) with UI Jazz Band IV, the UI ensemble specializing in tunes from the Big Band era.

— On Friday, the UI Concert Band Jazz Ensemble, led by jazz saxophonist, composer, arranger and educator Chip McNeill, will present its Helgesen Fellowship Concert at 7:30 p.m. in Studio Theatre. At the same time in Foellinger Great Hall, the Illinois Wind Symphony, conducted by Stephen Peterson, will be performing a program that will include Jodie Blackshaw's "Peace Dancer," Aaron Copland's "An Outdoor Overture" and Percy Grainger's "The Gumsucker's March," as well a new piece commissioned for wind ensemble.

— The week's worth of UI School of Music ensemble performances winds up on Saturday with the UI Jazz Guitar Ensemble and Saxophone Ensembles at 3 p.m. and the UI Latin Jazz Ensemble at 7:30 p.m., and on Sunday with UI Jazz Band III at 3 p.m. and UI Jazz Vocal Ensemble and Jazz Vocal Combos at 7:30 p.m., all in Krannert's Studio Theatre. And of course, the holiday highpoint to the whole weekend has to be the School of Music's Annual Carol Concert at 3 p.m. Sunday in Foellinger Great Hall. This festive tradition joins choruses, instrumentalists and audience members in a musical celebration of the season you don't want to miss.

Of course, nothing makes this week of musical magic sing like the thought that it will do more than warm your own heart — it can help warm others as well. All this month at Krannert, guests are invited to help keep local children warm this winter by bringing along new or gently used coats, mittens, gloves, hats, scarves and ear muffs to donate to the center's annual clothing drive. This year, there is a special need for coats for middle school boys in sizes Boys' XL and Men's S, M and L. All collected items will go to the Champaign Unit 4 School District and Urbana School District 116. Donation boxes are available in the lobby near Intermezzo cafe.

I can't wait for ...

— A Christmastime double feature at The Vault Art Gallery in Tuscola on Saturday, Dec. 8. You can meet Jolly Old Saint Nick at The Vault, 100 N. Main St., from 2 to 8 p.m. during the downtown Tuscola gallery's "Miracle on Main Street" event. Santa will be roaming the gallery and greeting visitors while the Vault is collecting toys for the Tuscola Salvation Army Angel Tree. The Vault will also be collecting food and items like toilet paper and paper towels to donate to the SAM Food Pantry at the United Methodist Church.

The second half of the double feature is "A CrossBorn Christmas," a free rock concert by Neoga-based Christian rock band CrossBorn from 6 to 8 p.m. on the upstairs stage. Marty Gibson of Rock University, who offers music lessons upstairs, is lead guitarist for the band, which is also participating in the toy drive. Vault manager Kirby Pringle tells us that Santa will even be showing off his dance moves during the show.

"This should be a really fun night of entertainment for the holiday season. Artists tend to be empathetic and sympathetic toward their fellow man, and this is a way that we can help the less fortunate of the Tuscola community," Pringle said.

The Christmas concert, which will feature one set of Christmas songs and another set of the band's original work, will be a first for CrossBorn as well. Says Gibson, "This is our first one. It's a special event. Our singer even wrote a Christmas song just for the concert." Snacks and drinks will also be available during both events.

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