Monday, December 19, 2011

25 Years of Holiday Class

Wow! The Clayton Holiday concerts this year were truly special, as witness the FULL HOUSE at today’s matinee. Logan Murrell’s smile and voice lit up the house, Jim Clayton displayed some serious talent and class, Hallerin Hilton Hill took us into new realms, Santa cracked us up, and Lucas Richman tied together the orchestra and Choral Society, Sound Company Children’s Choirs and Go! Contemporary Dance Works to give inspired and inspiring performances.

There are a couple people behind the scenes that you should know about. About one-fourth of the charts we played from this weekend were arrangements done by Warren Clark. With very little to go by, sometimes just a squeaky, jangly cassette tape, he can take a song and arrange it so that every player on stage has a part to play that is legible, correct, and playable but never boring. Tunes that Jim Clayton ("C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S" and "Christmas in Dixie") and Hallerin Hilton Hill ("One Light" and "Light One Candle") sang were arrangements done by Mr. Clark. Often the deadline is in the middle of a rehearsal, yet he comes through time and time again. Oh, and I have learned a new word; the opposite of “swung” is “strate!”

The responsibility of getting those arrangements to our stands falls to our second clarinetist and librarian, Mark Tucker. NO music would be on our stand if not for this patient, patient man. And come to think of it, no one would be playing it either, because he is also the personnel manager. If anyone deserves a little time off, it’s Mark, who on top of all that lost his father on November 4th. Take five, Mark! No, make that twelve. You don’t seem like the type who goes for lords a-leaping or geese a-laying, but I hope at least three or four of your twelve days involve a beach and some barbecue.

This seems like a good place to recognize players who were at the first Clayton Concerts in 1987: violinists Mary Anne Fennell, Norris Dryer, John Fox, Liz Farr, Julie Swenson and Susan Thompson; violists Eunsoon Corliss, Bill Pierce and Carol Tucker, cellists Bruce Wilhite, Scot Williams, Alice Stuart and Don Grohman, bassist Herb Hall, flutist Cynthia D’Andrea, oboist Phyllis Secrist, clarinetist Gary Sperl, hornist Mark Harrell, trumpeters Cathy Leach and Marc Simpson, tympanist Mike Combs and pianist Carol Zinavage. We’ve come a long way, baby! And yet the joy of playing in the orchestra has been a constant.

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