Prescott Pops Symphony Monday, Dec 11 2017 

Santas Around the World

Santas Around the World

“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” was the theme for yesterday’s performance of the Prescott Pops Symphony and the introductory piece by George Wyle and Edward Pola arranged by Mark Hayes. Choral Director Darrell Rowader and Music Director and Conductor Joseph Place took turns conducting at this sold out performance in the Yavapai College Performing Arts Center. Rowader was also the soloist for “God Bless Us Everyone” from Disney’s “A Christmas Carol” by Alan Silvestri and Glen Ballard. Craig Ralston was the bass solist for “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” set to music by Ken Darby, arranged by Harry Simeone, scored for orchestra by William C. Schoenfeld. Another choral selection was “The Many Moods of Christmas” arranged by Robert Russell Bennett. Two selections from George Friderich Handel’s “Messiah” featuring the Prescott Pops Symphony Chorus included, “And the Glory of the Lord” and, of course, “Hallelujah” as a concluding piece. Works played by the Symphony included “Around the World at Christmas Time” arranged by Bruce Chase, “Chanukah Suite” arranged by Jeff Tyzik, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” arranged by David Pugh, “The Bells of Christmas” arranged by Bob Krogstad, “Christmas Lullaby” by Chip Davis and arranged by Mannheim Steamroller, and “Sleigh Ride” by Leroy Anderson. Before we entered the theatre we watched the Park Avenue Theater Show Choir perform a couple of numbers. During the concert this group from Trinity Presbyterian Church performed two pieces, “Comin’ Up Christmas Time” arranged by Andy Beck and “When Christmas Comes to Town” from “The Polar Express” by Alan Silvestri and Glen Ballard and arranged by William Ross. The audience fully engaged with a post concert “Sing Along!”

Before the concert we stopped at the Prescott Resort to see this year’s Gingerbread Village. The more than 70 entries displayed a high level of creativity and well executed designs. Entries ranged from a Forest Service truck surrounded by fir trees to a multi-level display of different biomes. We were especially impressed with the multiple Santa’s representing different countries in “Santa’s Around the World” who were “United at Christmas.” This entry by Ruger Ladies won a blue ribbon.

After the concert and dinner we walked around the decorated Yavapai County Court House, enjoying the different decorations on each side of the Courthouse and the 200 decorated trees on the square. Truly, Prescott is “Arizona’s Christmas City.”


Acker Night 2017 Saturday, Dec 9 2017 

Road 1 South

Road One South

Acker Night is a unique event held in Arizona’s Christmas City since 1988. Last night some 130 downtown Prescott businesses joined with about 140 musicians and performers to raise money for the J. S. Acker Scholarship Program. Mr. Acker, 1865-1955, left most of his estate to the City of Prescott for parks and the promotion of music, particularly for children. This is the 30th year local musicians have donated their time and talent for this worthy cause. The crowds were bigger than ever, filling the streets and jamming venues. We admired the decorated Yavapai County Courthouse, its gazebo, and more than 200 lit trees on the square after watching a couple of dance routines by Switch Performing Arts. The stage at the Holiday Courtyard adjacent to the Grand Highland Hotel on Whiskey Row featured Why Not Belly Dance & Friends. After admiring the Wells Fargo stagecoach, we found our way to the Elks Theater. From great seats in the balcony we listened to Road One South and some young performers. We had dinner with friends in the Peacock Room of the Hassayampa Hotel with a view of the crowds entering and leaving the Elks Theater. Acker night is a special annual event in Prescott.

Jun Kaneko Sculpture Saturday, Nov 25 2017 



This afternoon we walked in the Desert Botanical Garden and admired the bold, monumental sculpture of Jun Kaneko. We learned that this Japanese American artist now living in Omaha, Nebraska creates these giant ceramic sculptures using a 40 foot in diameter and 20 foot high kiln. It takes 9-18 months to dry one piece. Before glazing, it is fired at 2100 degrees. After he glazes a work it is kiln fired for 26 days at 2300 degrees. “Velocity,” a cast bronze and enamel painted head greets visitors near the entrance. “Six Tanukis” and “Dango Garden” each have multiple sculptures while other “Untitled Heads” are dispersed strategically throughout the Garden. We departed before the closing at 4 p.m. This evening the Desert Botanical Garden hosts the popular Las Noches de las Luminarias. Perhaps we will participate sometime during this holiday season.

Phoenix Symphony Presents Mozart & Sibelius Saturday, Nov 4 2017 

Can you imagine losing your hearing in one ear and being plagued by tinnitus? San Diego-based Tina Tallon experienced these problems in 2015. She is a composer, computer musician, and arts documentarian pursuing a doctorate in composition at the University of California – San Diego to complement her B.S. degrees in Biological Engineering and Music from MIT and an M.F.A. in Composition from Brandeis University. She developed her composition, Sear, to document the virtual sounds that had been tormenting her. Only a few musicians from the Phoenix Symphony performed this demanding piece involving physical gestures that result in unexpected sounds, or the absence of sound, and unusual objects such as styrofoam and a power drill. The concert notes have a lengthy sentence describing

“her research interests include embodied music cognition, computational modeling of energetic relationships between various musical parameters based upon Newtonian mechanics, technological mediation of the human voice, development of software for spectral analysis and composition, algorithmic composition, and computational approaches to musicological inquiry.”

After this work was played, Conductor Tito Munoz introduced the composer and she shared how she made the most of a bad experience.

Karen Sinclair, violin, and Mark Deatherage, viola, were the featured soloists in Mozart’s Sinfonia concertante in E-flat Major, K. 364. They are married and both are members of the Phoenix Symphony. Sinclair is part of the first violin section. Deatherage is the Acting Principal Viola. We had excellent seats in row 5 to observe their virtuosity.

We ended our evening with a performance of Jean Sibelius’ Symphony No. 1 in E minor, Op. 39. This Finnish composer captured the bold, visionary spirit of the people. It begins with a melancholy theme from a solo clarinet. This moment gives way to a grand build-up in tension. The timpani sets the pace for the third movement. There is interesting use of pizzicato chords throughout, including the emotionally enigmatic conclusion. Another great evening of music!

2017 Prescott Oktoberfest Sunday, Sep 24 2017 

Live Polka

Live Polka

I have now lived in Prescott long enough to compare this year’s Oktoberfest with previous celebrations. The move from dedicating one block on Gurley Street to the Mile High Middle School field was a good one by providing more space for vendors and participants. Returning to a one day event from last year’s two days was a smart one as church takes precedent in Prescott on Sundays. The number of vendors has steadily increased to offer 60 beers in the 2017 edition. In my opinion, however, the cost and number of samples has now gone too far. I can remember when a ticket was $15 for 6 samples (and those samples were small). Last year a ticket cost $20 for 8 samples. This year an online ticket was $25 but $35 at the door for 12 samples (and those samples were generous). This is too much of a good thing as I got drunk on 9 samples from the following vendors: Barrio, Goose Island, Granite Mountain, Hangar 24, Lumberyard, Mother Road, Mudshark, Rogue, and Spaten. Fortunately, we walked so I wasn’t a danger on the road. In an effort to soak up some of the alcohol, we shared a pretzel to support the cause and devoured fry bread from White Eyes Fry Bread. My wife enjoyed the variety of Hefenweizen style brews offered. We found a table partially in the sun and partially in the shade that satisfied both of us as we enjoyed listening to Live Polka. We met some interesting people during the course of the afternoon. One couple live in the Valley but have a cabin in the Prescott area. Another couple moved here a month ago from New York. Two brothers active in the Sister Cities program shared some information about our relationships with Caborca, Mexico; Suchitoto, El Salvador; and Zeitz, Germany. Although this year’s event was held in September, it was a successful Oktoberfest!

On Friday, we identified the following wildflowers around the Thumb Butte parking lot and Thumb Butte Bypass Trail #326: redroot buckwheat, mountain parsley, yellow-flowered evening primrose, common mullein, tufted four o’clock, wild geranium, littleleaf globemallow, oblong, mock pennyroyal, scruffy prairie clover, slimleaf lima bean, skyrocket gilia, Arizona thistle, white prairie aster, Arizona cudweed, spreading fleabane, western yarrow, fragrant snakeroot, silver puffs, broom snakeweed, wild chrysanthemum, annual goldeneye, Wright beeflower, tansy aster, camphorweed, and large-flowered brickellia.

The Beach Boys Visit Prescott Tuesday, Sep 19 2017 

Last night The Beach Boys shared “Good Vibrations” in the Yavapai College Performing Arts Center. We joined a capacity filling crowd of gray hairs for this stop on the 2017 Wild Honey World Tour. Vocalist Mike Love, one of the band’s original members, has the licensing rights to “The Beach Boys.” He has surrounded himself with excellent, versatile musicians such as charismatic John Stamos on guitar and drums. The band’s classic sounds were augmented with interesting video images including some Yavapai College students. One of my favorite albums, Pet Sounds, was one of the first rock concept albums. Several years ago I attended a concert with another original member of the band, Brian Wilson, who didn’t seem to have aged as well as Love has. Prescott benefited from a great performance, even though it was on a Monday evening.

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