Norris Cultural Arts Center to host 'A Baker's Dozen Holiday Festival' Dec. 12-24
With opportunities to present live events limited this year, the Norris Cultural Arts Center in St. Charles is planning "A Baker's Dozen Holiday Festival," a 13-day, online holiday festival.
Starting Dec. 12 and daily through Dec. 23, The Norris will premiere a new, brief video on this website and on YouTube, featuring a holiday-themed performance by a local performer or ensemble.
On Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, the festival will culminate in a combined reprise of all 12 performances in a multigenre holiday special.
With all performances recorded at the historic Baker Community Center, the festival will be known as "Norris Presents A Baker's Dozen Holiday Festival."
Each new daily episode of the festival will be available for viewing on The Norris website starting at noon, and will remain available through the end of the Christmas season.
Check back on the website and follow our social media posts on Facebook and Instagram to learn more about "A Baker's Dozen Holiday Festival."
Businesses and individuals may support this festival through a variety of sponsorship and donation levels. Call (630) 584-7200 or write to email@example.com for more information.
Leading off the festival is special guest St. Charles Mayor Raymond Rogina. On Dec. 12, he will offer a reading of the beloved Christmas poem, "A Visit from St. Nicholas," also known as "'Twas the Night Before Christmas." He also serves as the virtual host of the event series, presenting an introduction for each of the other performances.
If you love Big Band swing music, you're probably already a fan of Brett Dean's Shout Section Big Band. This band has been entertaining audiences at swing dances, concerts, school clinics, weddings, and corporate events throughout the Midwest for over 10 years. On Dec. 13, they will perform "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" and a new arrangement of "The Christmas Song." To hear more about the band, visit www.shoutsection.com.
On Dec. 14, the popular Irish pub band, The Ragged Rascals, will perform a medley arrangement of "I Saw Three Ships" and "Christmas in Killarney." The band, based in the northwest suburbs, has entertained Norris audiences in several concert appearances. The band creates the "Irish band" experience through their vocals and the combined sounds of guitar, bass, banjo, fiddle and flute. Follow them on Facebook and subscribe to their YouTube channel.
Tessera Winds had its inaugural performance last year for a holiday concert. So it's fitting for the ensemble to be featured among the Baker's Dozen Holiday Festival artists. Featuring a unique combination of saxophones, brass, and custom arrangements, Tessera Winds performs diverse chamber music throughout the Chicago area. On Dec. 15, they will perform two holiday favorites -- "Up on the Housetop" and "Joy to the World."
The talented teenagers who comprise the Vivace Trio join the Baker's Dozen Holiday Festival Dec. 15 with their arrangements of "Christmastime Is Here" and the "Carol of the Bells." This St. Charles-based ensemble enjoys performing classical favorites and contemporary hits. Violinist Cate Winsor, violist Harry Graham and cellist Kennedy Buehler attend St. Charles East and North high schools. The three are longtime members of the Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra, where they developed a close friendship built on their love of chamber music. After often getting together to just play music, the three musicians founded The Vivace Trio in 2019 to share their passion with the community. They have enjoyed entertaining at restaurants, private events, and at outdoor community events over the past year. Follow the trio at www.facebook.com/TheVivaceTrio/.
On Dec. 16, New York Times best-selling picture book author Sherri Duskey Rinker joins the Baker's Dozen Holiday Festival with a dramatic reading of her book, "The 12 Sleighs of Christmas." Her five best-selling children's books include the No. 1 best-selling "Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site" series. She also wrote "Steam Train, Dream Train" and the nonfiction picture book biography "Big Machines: The Story of Virginia Lee Burton." Some of her other titles include "Tiny and the Big Dig" and "Celebrate You!" Her newly published first middle grade novel, "Revver the Speedway Squirrel" will be followed by a sequel in 2021. She lives in St. Charles with her husband, two sons and one fluffy dog. Inspired by her childhood love of books, her sons, and her 25-year career as a graphic designer, Rinker writes in hopes of making the world a little more fun and encouraging early readers, one book at a time. In addition to writing, she loves to read, collect antique oil paintings, cook, garden and travel. Visit www.sherririnker.com.
On Dec. 17, the Fox Valley Concert Band has been entertaining local audiences for more than 30 years. And for the past 10 years, the band has enjoyed playing its full season of concerts at the Norris Cultural Arts Center. The band's Brass Quintet will come to the Baker's Dozen Holiday Festival for a performance of holiday favorites. The quintet features Erich Rauch and Barry Pilkington on trumpet, Shelly Pietrzak on French horn, Mark Dettman on trombone, and Daniel Klenke on tuba. What would the Christmas season be without the sound of a brass band? Visit www.fvcb.org.
On Dec. 18, local singer and guitarist Dennis O'Brien and his longtime performing partner, keyboardist John Paruolo, are joined by talented multi-instrumentalist Glen West in an exclusive performance of customized holiday favorites for the Baker's Dozen Holiday Festival. Over the years, O'Brien and Parulo have shared the stage with such notable artists as The Eagles, Kenny Loggins, and Michael McDonald. Visit www.dennisobrienmusic.com.
On Dec. 19, Dori Erwin Collins, a well known and much loved Fox Valley singer, composer and actress, adds her voice and dramatic character to the Baker's Dozen Holiday Festival, as she shares some seasonal poetry and music (including one of her original songs). Collins teaches voice and acting students at her Batavia studio.
On Dec. 20, the Beth Fowler School of Dance is one of the longest established and most successful dance studios in St. Charles, with a second studio in Genoa. The Beth Fowler Dance Company has presented a full production of "The Nutcracker" ballet at Dekalb's Egyptian Theater for 27 years, and at St. Charles North High School for eight years. This year, the company is producing a full-length filmed version of "The Nutcracker," which it will present at the newly remodeled Egyptian Theater. They will present excerpts of the new film, performed by dancers from the company. Visit bethfowlerschoolofdance.com.
On Dec. 21, Daniil Krimer, co-founder and artistic director of the St. Charles-based Kane Repertory Theatre, joins the Baker's Dozen Holiday Festival for a reading of "A Cup of Christmas Tea," by Tom Hegg. Filled with memories of holidays past, this heartwarming story is about a nephew's reluctant visit to an elderly great-aunt at Christmastime and the surprising joy it brings. Kane Repertory Theatre produces intellectually stimulating theater, created by a dynamic ensemble of talented theater professionals. Kane Rep is quickly establishing itself among the leading regional theater companies in the Midwest. Visit www.kanerepertorytheatre.com.
On Dec. 22, the Baker's Dozen Holiday Festival welcomes a trio of talented local musicians who are affiliated with the St. Charles Singers. Pianist Scott Stevenson is well known as a soloist and collaborator. He has accompanied Grammy-nominated jazz vocalist Margaret Carlson, among many others. Singer Mike Popplewell is the director of choral ministries at the United Methodist Church of Geneva where he directs the adult and youth choirs. Singer and oboist Julie Popplewell is a freelance soloist and adjunct professor of oboe at Elmhurst University. The trio perform "O Holy Night" and an original song by Scott titled "Quietly."
St. Charles native Taylor Sherry is home for the holidays from her new home in Los Angeles, where she is pursuing her acting career. Taylor is a singer, dancer, and actress with a degree in musical theater from Florida State University. On Dec. 23, she will share with the Baker's Dozen Holiday Festival audience a poignant rendition of the well known tune, "I'll Be Home for Christmas."
Also on Dec. 23, pianist Andrew Blendermann will perform a medley of Christmas television themes for the Baker's Dozen Holiday Festival. He brings a flexible performance style to his repertoire of nearly 2,000 songs -- from Beethoven to Broadway, Sinatra to Smash Mouth. Starting with a classical background from Baldwin-Wallace Conservatory of Music, he has been performing professionally in and around the Chicago area for more than 20 years. His wide-ranging career includes piano bars (Davenport's, Howl at the Moon, The Signature Room), musical theater (Marriott Lincolnshire, Drury Lane), a cappella (Navy Pier Players, Harmony Sweepstakes), and private events for every occasion. Visit www.blenderful.com.
On Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, the festival culminates in a combined reprise of all 12 episodes in a special, multigenre holiday program. The entire festival -- including the grand finale -- is offered to you as a holiday season gift from the Norris Cultural Arts Center and our extensive and impressive cast of performers, all of whom donated their time and talent to make this festival a success. All festival videos will remain online through the end of the Christmas season.