Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

Donald’s weekend picks

So many things to do, so little time … besides the following, be sure to check out our mammoth list of holiday-related concerts, plays and events …

Where can you get snowed on in Fresno? Best bet is Children’s Musical Theaterworks’ “White Christmas,” which opens Friday and continues through Dec. 15. This production is CMT’s annual community-theater offering with performers of all ages. Here’s a description from the company:

The beloved classic holiday movie comes to life onstage in this new musical sensation! Bob Wallace and Phil Davis, two iconic song-and-dance men, follow a sister act to Vermont, only to discover that the nearly-bankrupt lodge they were to perform at is owned by their former commanding general. White Christmas boasts such hits as “Blue Skies,” “I Love a Piano,” and “White Christmas” and is sure to be a Holiday treat for the whole family! All performances feature a “Snow Zone” in section “A” center seating audience members will be treated to a light snowfall. Directed by theater veteran Elizabeth Fiester, and featuring Nick Netzley, Dan Aldape, Heather Price, & Hannah Huyck. (Bee photo below by Craig Kohlruss) [Details]

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Donald’s weekend picks

I’ve already told you about “Master Class” at the Shaghoian Hall. And don’t forget it’s a big weekend for film fans with the Fresno Film Festival. With that said, I’m going to devote my picks this week exclusively to classical music opportunities, of which there are many!

The ensemble devotes a majority of pieces in its spring program to works written by late 20th-century composers. Among them: a lively original composition by local composer and accompanist Kevin Memley; and the world premiere of a popular Korean folk song arranged by Joungmin Sur, a Fresno State graduate student. Roy Klassen conducts. 7:30 p.m. Saturday, First Congregational Church.

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For holiday and classical music, it’s a musical-marathon weekend


It happens every year at this time: The first two weekends of December are stuffed with concerts and performances from virtually every musical ensemble in town. I wonder sometimes if all these groups are chasing the same audience, but that’s just the way it is. All you can do if you’re into this kind of music is prepare for a busy couple of days.

I have three stories recapping your holiday and classical options in Friday’s 7 section. The lead story is a conversation between San Joaquin Chorale conductor Roy Klassen and accompanist Kevin Memley, who composed an original piece for the ensemble’s Christmas concert.

If you’re looking for holiday-related concerts, my roundup lists five options:

  • The Fresno Choral Artists join with the Porterville College Choir for two full-scale performances of Handel’s “Messiah” with orchestra and soloists.
  • Soli Deo Gloria, a woman’s chorale, performs Benjamin Britten’s “A Ceremony of Carols.”
  • The Fresno Community Concert Band performs “A Most Wonderful Christmas.”
  • Musica Viva performs its annual Baroque Christmas program.
  • The Fresno State music department choirs present “Home for the Holidays.”

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Donald’s weekend picks

I’ve already told you on the blog about several weekend-pick-worthy events going on this weekend: the Fresno Philharmonic’s last Masterworks concert of the season (here’s my story in Friday’s issue of 7); the world premiere of the opera “The Sisters of Manzanar” at the Warnors Theatre with keynote speaker George Takei of “Star Trek” fame (another 7 story by me here); and the San Joaquin Chorale’s Saturday spring concert at the First Congregational Church.

Here are two more picks:


ORGAN A-PLENTY: The “8 Guys and a Doll Organ Concert” features — you guessed it — eight men and one woman playing the organ. Sponsored by the San Joaquin Valley chapter of the American Guild of Organists, the concert is a benefit for the Fresno Pipe Organ Academy pre-collegiate scholarship of the Central California Youth Performance Awards Competition. Event organizer Laurell writes:

There are nine performers, counting Slaten Van Saun. Of the group, he is the oldest, yet newest to the organ and will be the Master of Ceremonies.

Four organists are collegiate level: Tyler Baker, Cactus Harris, Sheridan Haskell and Tyrell McKenzie.The four in high school are Luke Shrestha of Fowler High, Hannah Zentner from Kingsburg High, and Christopher Herrick and Ethan Peterson, both of University High.

They are all presenting their polished pieces in preparation either for competition, college entrance, church service or something else special. It is a culmination of their combined efforts in learning the pipe organ plus their individual talents that led the Fresno Pipe Organ Academy to invite them to perform.

The 3 p.m. Sunday concert is at the Second Church of Christ, Scientist, 280 W. Shaw Ave.

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The Beehive Interview: Roy Klassen of the San Joaquin Chorale

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In Friday’s 7 section I highlight the spring concert of Fresno Pacific University’s San Joaquin Chorale, which performs 7:30 p.m. Saturday at First Congregational Church. I caught up with conductor Roy Klassen via email to talk about the concert. Here’s the extended interview:

Question: How did you put this spring concert program together? Do you try for a wide variety of music?

I always seek for a variety of music from older, Renaissance pieces through 21st century choral compositions, including those of our accompanist, Kevin Memley. I’ve divided the Spring program into sacred and secular sections. The first, sacred, is all 20th century music and includes the William Mathias piece written for Prince Charles and Diana Spencer’s wedding in 1981. The second half (secular) begins with an homage to pieces written about the theme of ‘music’. We open with a madrigal by Gallus and end with an American Folk song arrangement by Ken Berg.

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Donald’s weekend picks

Nearly every performing ensemble in town has a concert of some sort this weekend — so to say it’s going to be a busy three days is putting it mildly. (Sometimes I wonder: Lots of the people you find in audiences for cultural events are themselves involved in performance ensembles — what if no one ends up in the audience because everyone is performing?) With that said, here are some picks. For more options, be sure to check out the roundup stories and listings in Friday’s issue of 7.

TThe 52-member chorale presents its annual Christmas concert featuring poetry set by director, Roy Klassen, “O Nata Lux” by Kevin Memley, a premier of “Ave Maria” by local composer, Dr. Royce Nickel, and arrangements of familiar carols. Performance information: 7:30 p.m. Sunday, First Congregational Church, 2131 N. Van Ness Blvd. $12 general admission, $8 seniors/students, available at door. (559) 453-2267.


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Planning for the weekend


This coming weekend has a crowded cultural calendar, which I wrote about in my Sunday Spotlight column, and one event almost guaranteed to sell out is the Fresno Philharmonic’s “Cirque de la Symphonie” holiday concert 8 p.m. Friday. I checked in with the Phil folks this morning, who told me:

“It isn’t sold out yet, but it is getting close.”

I keep learning about even more events vying for your cultural time (and dollars) this weekend, by the way. David Highbaugh, a member of the San Joaquin Chorale, writes:

Don’t forget about the San Joaquin Chorale’s two concerts of Christmas music also this weekend. On Sat. Dec. 5 at 7:30 PM at the First Mennonite Church of Reedley, the San Joaquin Chorale under the direction of Dr. Roy Klassen will present a concert of Christmas choral music from around the world, including new arrangements and traditional carols. The church is located at 1208 L St. in Reedley, and there is no charge, though a free will offering will be taken. The concert will be repeated on Sunday night Dec. 6 at 6:00 PM at the Palm Ave. Community Church in Fresno (222 E. Fountain Way).

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