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OCC to Present 'The Many Moods of Christmas: A Choral Celebration' on Dec. 8

Concert flierThe Olney Central College Music Department will present The Many Moods of Christmas: A Choral Celebration at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 8 in the Dr. John D. Stull Performing Arts Center.

“This special evening of music combines your favorite carols with a concert band/orchestra, so it’s lovely and unique,” said OCC Director of Choral Activities Dr. Andrew Pittman.

More than 100 area singers, from the OCC Community Choir, OCC Concert Choir and the Richland County High School Choir, will join together presenting Messiah selections and traditional carols.

“This year our community choir is sounding its absolute best, and I’m excited for everyone to hear their talent,” Pittman added.

A highlight of the evening will be Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy a 22-minute piece for piano, orchestra and choir. The piece will feature special guest internationally recognized pianist and published composer Dr. Vladimir Pleshakov, whose choral music and composition style were the focus of Pittman’s doctoral dissertation.

While health issues have sidelined Pleshakov in recent years, he is recovering and plans to begin touring again with his wife, pianist Elena Winther. The 85-year-old piano virtuoso has chosen to kick off his tour at OCC.

Originally written as a precursor to welcome the festive Christmas season, the audience will recognize within the work Beethoven’s first draft of Ode to Joy, later heard in his 9th Symphony.

“I am thrilled our community will be able to hear piano music like this played at such a high level,” Pittman said. “The Beethoven ‘rocks.’ It really jams like 1970s rock music. I think people will be really surprised at how fun and exciting it is.”

He added, “I’m very excited to have a joint performance with the high school choir, giving those kids a chance to perform higher level music with an orchestra and professional singers, as well as with Dr. Pleshakov himself. Messiah used to be a staple of choral repertoire, but now fewer and fewer towns and programs are able to handle it, particularly with block scheduling affecting the arts so dramatically in high school. Every singer should know what it’s like to sing a major work with a large chorus and orchestra.”

Prior to the concert, Pleshakov and his wife will present a master class from 9 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 7 in the Dr. John D. Stull Performing Arts Center.

“The master class will show off local pianists as they work on their technique under the guidance of Dr. Pleshakov and his wife,” Pittman said. “Dr. Pleshakov will also discuss his life as a composer, what inspires him, how he approaches his compositions and much more.”

The program will include a lesson in composing along with a question and answer session with Pleshakov, whose life story is as compelling as his musicianship. Pleshakov’s family fled the Bolsheviks during the Russian Revolution of 1917, joining an enclave of White Russians in China. The group, who became known as the “White Russians of Shanghai,” retained their religious and cultural practices, which were virtually wiped out in their homeland under Soviet control. When the Communists came to power in China, Pleshakov and his family uprooted again, this time relocating to Australia, where he began his career, shortly before moving to California.

Both the concert and master class are free and open to the public. For more information, contact Pittman at 618-395-7777, ext. 2252.

Illinois Eastern Community Colleges does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, religious affiliation, veteran status, national origin, disability, genetic information, or any other protected category.

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