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Saturday Christmas Concert in Smithfield

Music preview
by Kevin T. McEneaney
Mon Nov 30th, 2015

Denise and Matt Finley

Denise Finley has once again put together a magnificent program of local music. Co-producer Katharine Dunlop will make introductory remarks at the annual Christmas Concert and Tea (in its eleventh year) at Smithfield Presbyterian Church on Saturday, 4 pm, December 5. Elders and pastor Douglas Grandgeorge welcome all of any faith and denomination to attend this unusual event.

At the Johnson tracker-organ, Will Carter, co-owner of Pine Plains Fine Wines and Spirits, will play Pachelbel’s Trio and Fugue “Von Himmel Hoch," among other things. Carter has served three times as Dean of the New York City Chapter of the American Guild of Organists; he has been decorated by her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for his service to church music.

Composer of Brazilian jazz, retired academic dean and computer science professor, and recording artist trumpeter Matt Finley of Pine Plains, will co-ordinate the instrumental music. The string band and loft ensemble includes Kyle Behnken on double bass, Ted Rathjen  on mandolin, Tim Capowski on guitar, and soprano Michelle Demko.

Clarinetist Norman Baker of Ancramdale received his degree at the Julliard School of Music and played with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra for twenty years under the direction of Robert Shaw.

Violinist Rob Murphy of Millbrook maintains positions as first violinist at several regional symphony orchestras; he currently serves as Assistant Concert Master of the Woodstock Chamber Orchestra.

Tenor soloist Monte Stone will perform two songs.

The Poet Laureate of Smithfield Valley will recite a new poem composed for the occasion.

Singer Priscilla Herdman, folk icon from Pine Plains, has been called, "one of the clearest and most compelling voices of contemporary folk music" by the New York Times.

Featured guest performer Terry Champlin will play compositions from Debussy, Villa-Lobos, and Terrega, as well his own compositions. Champlin was awarded the 2015 Dutchess County Executive’s Arts Award for “Individual Artist of the Year” in recognition of his wide ranging composing and performing. His music has been presented internationally and has been frequently broadcast on NPR, including several appearances the WNYC show “Around New York.” He has composed for all mediums, from symphony orchestra to solo classical guitar. One of his compositions was used on the lead track of Pete Seeger’s Grammy-nominated last album, “The Storm King.”

Smithfield Church Music Director, Denise Jordan Finley, has received international recognition for her songwriting, including top ratings on the "Folk DJ List" in the categories of album, song, and artist. As well as directing, she will be singing one of her hit songs, "How Fair Is My Baby."

The concluding climax will incite all attendees to sing “Joy to the World” and “Silent Night” with all musicians playing. The concert is free, yet all attendees will be asked to contribute the Column Restoration Fund. The four Ionic Columns are now up and in place, but there remains further construction: front steps and railing, a new heating and air-conditioning system, an elevator for wheelchairs and the elderly, a new staircase, and a complete building repainting.

Cookies and cakes will be served after the concert, and performers will stay to chat with attendees.