Music & More Holiday Sing-Along

Catch the holiday spirit at Music & More’s Holiday Sing-Along at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14, at First Presbyterian Church, 716 College Ave. Doors open at 6:15 p.m. There is no charge to attend.

Local pop/folk singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Mark Paffrath will lead the audience sing-along. Paffrath has been entertaining audiences for more than 35 years and has won awards as best folk artist, string player and vocalist in polls. His vocals have been compared to Kenny Loggins and John Denver.

“It warmed my heart to hear that the success and conviviality of the Music & More program was to be extended into the holiday season with a Christmas sing-along, complete with a cookie sale and performances by other musicians as well,” said Paffrath. “I guess I’m kind of old-fashioned and the idea really appealed to me. There’s nothing like a whole group of people singing together, especially around Christmastime. And, I was excited to learn that I’ll be joined on stage by 25 or more back-up singers from the Choral Arts Society and First Presbyterian Church. It’s going to be a great night of music and holiday fun and cheer.”

Also performing will be Milwaukee-based flute and penny whistle player Brett Lipshutz and guitarist Randy Gosa. Lipshutz and Gosa perform together at Milwaukee’s Irish Fest and have recorded a CD together titled “Night and Day.”

Lipshutz has been playing various flutes for more than 30 years and Irish and baroque music since 1994. He played twice at the All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil, has toured with the Trinity Irish Dance Company, and taught flute and whistle in Paris, France. He plays in the ensemble Myserk and with the dance band Cream City Ceili.

Gosa graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a degree in visual art and Celtic studies. He has been playing Irish music since 1999 and teaches at the Irish Fest School of Music. A founding member of the Milwaukee based Celtic trio Cé, he performs nationally with Myserk.

Benjamin Nelson, a senior at The Prairie School, will play a piano medley of holiday favorites. Nelson took first place at the Badger State Music competition and went on to win the Racine Symphony Young Artist Competition in 2018. He performed as the guest soloist with the RSO at its Masterworks concert, and has performed at Music & More summer concerts.

“This December concert of Music & More incorporates something we hope will become a tradition, since the audience actually becomes the performer,” said Pat Badger, holiday concert organizer. “There are no auditions or judgments. No longer spectators; the audience adds their voices in song. And in the dark, cold of December when the year is turning that is exactly what our ancestors would have been about. Once we lived our lives in close touch with the changing seasons, and the changing of the light was marked by caroling and giving thanks. This concert is designed to celebrate the winter season as a Music & More community and waken the earth with our singing.”

The Christmas cookie sale will be an added bonus for concert goers. Handcrafted boxed Christmas cookies will be sold before and after the concert for $10 a box.

“First Presbyterian once had an amazing cookie walk,” said Badger. “Open to the public, it attracted quite a crowd and sold out early year after year. Over time the number of bakers decreased, and the cookie activity became a fond historical tale. However, this year we decided to bring back the tradition, and with head cookie creators and bakers Betsy Walton and Meg Daniels in the kitchen, the flour will be flying. Festivity, frivolity, and food — what more could you want in an evening?”

Donations will be accepted to benefit the regional Presbyterian mission fund and three Music & More youth music scholarships in honor of Randall K. Bush, and in memory of Mearl Mahl and Mia Guion.

For more information, call church office at 262-632-1686 or email office@firstpresracine.org.

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