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December 12, 2007 > A holiday concert to remember

A holiday concert to remember

Vocal star Strelo-Smith leads Chorus

By Eman Isadiar

Whether a seasoned fan of choral music or simply in the mood for some foot-tapping holiday cheer, you're in for a treat. From December 14 through 16, the Douglas Morrisson Theatre of Hayward presents a culturally diverse holiday program titled "Merry Music" which features such favorite tunes as the African-American spiritual "Amen, Go Tell It on the Mountain" and the 16th century Spanish carol "Riu, Riu, Chiu." But here's the real Christmas present: the chorus is led by East Bay's own vocal celebrity Michael Strelo-Smith as the distinguished guest conductor of this special holiday concert.

Earlier this year, Strelo-Smith burst onto the national scene as a contestant on NBC's "America's Got Talent." Even before his appearance on national television, Strelo-Smith managed to turn a few heads right here in his native Bay Area. He has appeared in prior musical productions of the Morrisson Theatre including Snoopy! which earned him the praise of the Oakland Tribune in 2003 for singing "like an absolute dream." He has also appeared multiple times with the West Bay Opera and Bayshore Lyric Opera singing the parts of Damis in Mechem's Tartuffe and Sharpless in Puccini's Madama Butterfly. Strelo-Smith is the recipient of a study grant from the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation, semifinalist in the Loren L. Zachary Society, and national finalist in the Classical Productions vocal competition. Last but not least, he made the quarter finals on "America's Got Talent" which aired in July. Michael Strelo-Smith lives in Castro Valley and teaches music to grades 3 to 5 in Foster City. He is also a private voice instructor.

The Douglas Morrisson Theatre Chorus has a long history of bringing quality performances to the community dating back to its inaugural concert "An Evening with Rodgers and Friends" in 1985 when it was known as the Little Theatre Chorus. During its 22-year history the Chorus has presented over 65 concerts, ranging from Broadway to Hollywood and from Mozart to Motown. Along the way, this versatile ensemble has explored every genre of choral music from Gregorian chants to hip-hop, and presented works in many different languages. Since its inception, the Morrisson Theatre Chorus has been led by three musical directors, the first being Elinor White who served from 1985 to 1988. Trente Morant directed the Chorus from 1988 to 1995 and was succeeded by Cesar Cancino, who continues to lead the chorus today.

Judging by Morrisson Theatre Chorus' remarkable history and stellar guest conductor Michael Strelo-Smith, "Merry Music" promises to be a memorable concert for the whole family. Perhaps the concert will even inspire you to consider joining the chorus, which, by the way, is actively recruiting male singers. The Douglas Morrisson Theatre Chorus is open to anyone interested in singing, aged 16 and above. There is no audition to join the chorus and applicants may register online at www.haywardrec.org.

"Merry Music"
Friday, Dec 14 - Sunday, Dec 16
Fri & Sat at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m.
Douglas Morrisson Theatre
22311 North Third St., Hayward
(510) 881-6777

Tickets are $8 - $13

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