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Popular "Pipes of Christmas" Returns to Central New Jersey
by Robert Currie for Vocal Area Network
Posted November 6, 2004

Jason TrammThe Pipes of Christmas, the Clan Currie Society's popular holiday concert returns to Central New Jersey on Friday, December 17 at 8 PM and Saturday, December 18 at 2 and 8 PM. Performances will be held at Central Presbyterian Church in Summit, NJ. The program will feature the music of Christmas accompanied by a selection of readings taken from Celtic literature and Scripture. Featured performers include Celtic fiddler Paul Woodiel, the Kevin Ray Blandford Memorial Pipe Band and the Solid Brass ensemble. Also returning will be choral composer and organist Jeff Rickard from the University of Redlands in California and distinguished Scottish country dance music expert Susie Petrov from Boston. As anticipated, the Society has added a third performance this year given the extraordinary demand for tickets in previous years.

According to Society president Robert Currie, "The concert continues to grow from strength to strength with new guest artists joining our company each year. For 2004, we are delighted to be teaming with another fine musical institution based here in our community, the Summit Music Festival Chamber Choir. The Festival was founded in 2002 as a community ensemble created to give local singers a chance to perform choral masterworks with professional orchestra and soloists during the summer. Audience response has been overwhelming and has led the Festival to expand its offerings in 2003 and 2004. The Pipes of Christmas appearance is their first collaborative effort and marks the first time that the choir has performed during the winter months. The choir will be led by Festival founder and Artistic Director Jason C. Tramm.

Says Lois Hageman, Executive Director and chorister with the Festival Choir, "We are absolutely thrilled to be teaming with the Clan Currie Society on their annual Christmas program. It is a great opportunity for us to show how community arts and cultural organizations can come together to serve the greater good. I'm looking forward to a wonderful experience."

Jason C. Tramm, the founder, Artistic Director, and Conductor of the Summit Music Festival, is quickly ascending to the forefront of young conductors in the tri-state area. Jason is currently on the conducting faculty and is pursuing his Doctor of Musical Arts in Conducting at the Mason Gross School of the Arts (Rutgers University), where he is the recipient of the prestigious Presidential Fellowship. His duties at Rutgers include teaching undergraduate choral conducting and serving as the Assistant Conductor of the renowned Kirkpatrick Choir and the Rutgers Glee Club. He has also collaborated with the Rutgers Opera Ensemble and the University Orchestra during the past year. Jason is currently in the conducting studios of Dr. Patrick Gardner and Kynan Johns. Mr. Tramm holds degrees from the Crane School of Music and the Hartt School, where he studied with Brock McElheran and Edward Bolkovac.

This past year Jason has been involved in preparing choirs for performances in some of America's greatest concert halls, including Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. He prepared the Rutgers Glee Club for a combined performance of the Berlioz Requiem with the Philadelphia Singers, served as Rehearsal Assistant for the Riverside Choral Society in a performance including Ives Psalm 90 and the Vaughan Williams Five Mystical Songs, and helped to prepare the Riverside Choral Society for a performance of Benjamin Britten's War Requiem. Jason recently made his European symphonic debut, conducting Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony with the Bacau Philharmonic (Romania), as part of the International Conductor's Institute. In 2003 Jason was awarded the Rising Star award by the SUNY Potsdam Alumni Association. This yearly award is given to alumni who have demonstrated significant achievement in their fields and who show much promise for the future. Past musical winners include  Renee Fleming and Stephanie Blythe.

Since its debut in 1999, The Pipes of Christmas has played to standing-room-only audiences. Given the popularity of the program, a second concert was added in 2001 to accommodate the growing demand for tickets. That same year, Clan Currie began an award-winning partnership with TV-36, Communities On Cable, by broadcasting concert highlights on Christmas Eve. These broadcasts have received the prestigious Telly Award for television production excellence. The concert has provided audiences with a stirring and reverent celebration of the Christmas season and the Celtic spirit. Audience-goers return year after year to experience the program, many reporting that the Pipes of Christmas has become part of their family's annual Christmas tradition. For that reason, the concert is kept fresh each year with new selections and performances. While steeped in Christmas tradition, the program also strives to remain relevant to the world around us.

The 2001 edition was dedicated to the memory of all who perished in the attacks on September 11. A new pipe selection, "Lament for the Lost" was composed and performed especially for the concert. The 2002 concert was designated an official Golden Jubilee event by Buckingham Palace to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of HRH Queen Elizabeth II's Accession to the Throne. That same year, Pipe Major Blandford also premiered a pipe solo commissioned by Clan Currie in memory of the late Queen Mother who had died earlier that year. In a letter to the Clan Currie Society, U.S. Congressman Mike Ferguson (R-NJ) commented, "This organization has shown the ability to truly touch the world."

As part of the 2004 concerts, Clan Currie will debut a new musical tribute to President Ronald Wilson Reagan, who died on June 5, 2004 at the age of 93. The tribute, arranged by Doug Haislip of Solid Brass, will feature the entire company in a stirring musical salute in recognition of Reagan's Scottish and Irish roots.

Over the last five years, The Pipes of Christmas has also received critical acclaim. Classical New Jersey magazine reported, "The whole evening was constructed to introduce gem after gem and still have a finale which raised the roof. In short, it was like a well constructed fireworks show on the Glorious Fourth." The Westfield (NJ) Leader described the concert as "a unique sound of power and glory nowhere else to be found." The Bernardsville (NJ) News has called the concert, "the most unique Christmas concert in the Metropolitan area."

The Pipes of Christmas is certain to be one of the premiere instrumental and choral events of the season. Seats go quickly. Tickets are $30 each and must be purchased in advance. No tickets will be sold at the door. An online ticket order form can be downloaded from the Society's website at www.clancurrie.org/press/2004_sept20.html. Mail orders are also being accepted by sending payment and a self-addressed, stamped envelope to The Clan Currie Society, PO Box 541, Summit, NJ 07902-0541. Tickets may also be purchased at John Hyatt Clothiers, 334 Springfield Avenue in Summit. For additional information, contact the Society at (908) 273-3509.

Robert Currie is the president of the Clan Currie Society. This is his second article for Vocal Area Network.

Content Contact: Robert Currie.
Revision Date: November 6, 2004.
Technical Contact: Steve Friedman.

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