The Chattanooga Music Club is kicking off the holiday season with a free concert featuring two of the top musical groups in this region as well as a theater organist who has performed on National Public Radio's "Pipe Dreams."
Organist Brett Valliant of Wichita, Kan., is headlining the CMC's Holiday Spectacular at Memorial Auditorium Friday night, Nov. 22. He will be joined on the program by Lee University's Voices of Lee and the Metropolitan Bells handbell choir.
A holiday mood will prevail from the time concertgoers enter the lobby. Guests will be greeted by Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus. Handbell chimes will echo through the lobby as the Metropolitan Bells ring for arriving guests starting at 6 p.m. In the inner west hallway of the auditorium, CMC pianists will play holiday music.
Valliant began playing piano at age 4, was a church organist by age 11 and began accompanying movies as a theater organist at age 15. In addition to being a featured artist on NPR, he has performed for the International Film Festival and for national conventions of the American Theatre Organ Society and American Guild of Organists.
He is artist-in-residence for Wichita Theatre Organ Inc., organist for First United Methodist Church of Wichita and a regular on the national Bible Broadcasting Network. He has three recordings.
Evelyn Gibbs, CMC member, says Valliant's portion of the program will include "The Waltz of the Flowers" from "The Nutcracker," "Carol of the Bells," "Sleigh Ride" and a medley of pop/jazz selections.
Voices of Lee is nationally known for its appearance on NBC's a cappella competition "The Sing Off." Director Danny Murray says the 16 singers will present an antiphonal arrangement of "Do You Hear What I Hear" and "a beautiful, seven-part-harmony arrangement of 'The First Noel.'"
"We have a neat, contemporary arrangement of 'Joy to the World' that's up-tempo with mouth percussion like you'd hear on 'The Sing-Off,'" Murray says. "And we'll do 'Mary, Did You Know,' which is always a favorite."
The Metropolitan Bells' numbers will range from "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" to "Skater's Waltz" and "The Coventry Carol." The handbell choir is marking its 20th anniversary this season. Ringer Shirley Baugh says the 13 ringers perform on six octaves of Malmark bells and six octaves of Malmark choir chimes.
Even the audience will get in on the act before the night's over. Emcee Greg Glover will open the second half of the program leading an audience sing-along of six well-known holiday tunes, accompanied by Valliant on the organ.
Although the concert is free, donations will be accepted to help maintain the auditorium's restored Austin organ.
Contact Susan Pierce at spierce@timesfreepress .com or 423-757-6284.
* What: Chattanooga Music Club's Holiday Spectacular.
* When: 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 22.
* Where: Memorial Auditorium, 399 McCallie Ave.
* Admission: Free.
* Phone: 423-642-TIXS.