By MARTA HEPLER DRAHOS
TRAVERSE CITY — Encore Winds returns to the Dennos Museum Center Saturday, Dec. 22, in one of the area's favorite holiday traditions.
The fun begins at 7 p.m. when area tuba and euphonium players, including brass from the 50-piece wind orchestra, gather in the Sculpture Court for "TubaChristmas." One of hundreds of "TubaChristmas" events around the country, the show draws as many as 25 players and 200 listeners for a program of specially arranged carols and holiday classics.
"It's the coolest thing," said Encore executive director Marlene Beilas. "That sculpture court area at Dennos is packed. And it's free. People can come at a quarter to 7 and mingle and see whatever show is up at Dennos. That's what people like, too."
At 8 p.m., the full wind orchestra goes on stage in Milliken Auditorium with guest vocalist Liam Bernhard, tenor, and the Mesick High School Band. Made up of community, professional and student musicians from around northern Michigan, Encore Winds will perform traditional and other songs of the Christmas season, including "Ave Maria," "Silent Night," "Holiday Sing" and "An Irving Berlin Christmas."
"For 20 years, Encore has had this tradition of giving a Christmas concert," Bielas said. "We try really hard to get local talent, and we also partner with a local band or choir. I think that having local talent brings in the families and relatives.
"Part of Encore's mission is that we're able to have a young, upcoming musician playing next to a seasoned musician and that relationship, that partnership, seems to work really well," she said.
Bernhard is a native of Traverse City, where he studied with Lynne Church and performed in musicals like Miracle Productions' "Hairspray" and Traverse City West High School's "The Secret Garden." The 2009 West graduate has a degree in vocal performance from Western Michigan University and currently studies voice at Oklahoma City University.
The Mesick High School Band formed in the early 1960s and since has become part of a strong music tradition in the area, performing at school games, in area parades and at community concerts. Under the direction of Craig Jones, students in the program learn the fundamentals of marching, concert and pep bands.
Tickets for the Dec. 22 concert are $15 for adults and $10 for seniors at MyNorthTickets at (800) 836-0717 or online at mynorthtickets.com. Students and children 17 and under get in free.