Sat, Oct. 19

Season of music
Tickets now on sale for Verde Valley Concert Association's 55th season

'Tis that time of year again to spring into planning ahead. Time to get your season tickets for the best value in the Verde Valley -- the 55th season of the Verde Valley Concert Association (VVCA) for 2007-08. The five concerts that make up the season are as diverse as they are entertaining, and there will also be a free concert of "Rising Stars," the winners of our Youth Music Scholarship Competition, in April 2008.

The opening concert on Sunday, Oct. 7, at 3 p.m. serves up a generous helping of nostalgia, coupled with great musicality. Joe Bourne and the Gary Moran Trio perform "A Tribute Concert to Nat King Cole." Joe's warm mellifluous voice and simple, easy style are reminiscent of Nat Cole. His virtuosity, combined with his ease of execution, communicates the fun and swing of this music. The Gary Moran Trio plays with elegance, and their arrangements are those of the classic Nat King Cole trio.

On Sunday, Nov. 11, at 3 p.m. one of the most popular groups ever presented here pays a return visit to the stage. The Side Street Strutters, who regularly appear at California's Disneyland, will demonstrate their musical skills with a diverse concert comprised primarily of jazz, the genre that molds and reflects their moods. Jazz couldn't have found a more fertile place to grow than in America, with its freedom of expression and its wide array of influences and cultures. The VVCA is pleased to have this opportunity to once again revel in the music that the "Strutters" love to make, and to which we love to listen, tap our feet and clap our hands.

January 2008's concert is on Sunday the 13th at 3 p.m., and features an artist and his ensemble that the VVCA has long wanted to present. "Igor and the Jazz Cowboys" perform acoustic Western swing and Dixieland music with guitar, fiddle, horns, percussion and string bass. Just imagine Roy Rogers singing with Louis Armstrong's band! They wear "pony soldier" costumes of blue denim, red suspenders and yellow bandannas to represent their home state of Arizona. Igor entertains with the music he played with Benny Goodman, the vocals he sang worldwide with the New Christy Minstrels and on national PBS TV, and his sense of humor that energizes the entire group. The "Jazz Cowboys" have been one of the top three bands for audience draw at the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee in California every year.

And now for something completely different! On Saturday, Feb. 9, at 7 p.m., Mingus Union High School auditorium's stage will be filled to capacity by the 90-member "St. Olaf Orchestra," an orchestra that is recognized nationally and internationally. It has been described as one of the best college orchestras in the nation. The orchestra dates back to 1906. Since 1949 it has toured annually, traveling throughout the U.S., Scandinavia, and Central and Eastern Europe. It has appeared in some of Europe's finest concert halls and performed with some of the world's most noted conductors and artists.

Begorrah! On Sunday, March 16, at 3 p.m., everyone will be in the spirit of St. Patrick in company with Celtic Spring, referred to as the "Von Trapp Family of Celtic Music." The group was recently voted one of the top acts in the finals of NBC's America's Got Talent. Celtic Spring is a fiddle and dance band composed of the six young Wood family siblings on fiddles and in dance shoes, joined by their father on the traditional Irish drum, and their mother on the keyboards. Their performances feature a rich variety of music from the Celtic lands and beyond, including original composition, with arrangements that range in expression from lyrical beauty to dance tempo exuberance. They are also championship Irish dancers, in colorful ornate costumes, performing spirited reels, jigs, and dancing in both the graceful soft shoes and powerful hard shoes. The show culminates with the band members flawlessly fiddling and dancing simultaneously.

Season tickets cost $85 for adults and $25 for students. Individual tickets for each concert will be $20 for adults and $7 for students. Tickets are now available by calling the VVCA at 639-0636.

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