3D Illustration of a Sleigh bell

JANESVILLE—Each year, holiday music starts being played around town once the temperature drops and the calendar ticks closer to Christmas.

Two shows coming to the Janesville Performing Arts Center this month will boast familiar and new sounds to help locals get into the holiday spirit.

The Beloit Janesville Symphony Orchestra plans to put a worldwide spin on the yuletide with its upcoming show “Songs of the Season.”

At 2 p.m. Dec. 15, JPAC will feature BJSO performing music from around the globe including songs from English, Welsh and American cultures. The group also plans to perform “Feliz Navidad” and a medley of Hanukkah songs, and two local singers—Gary McAdams and Amanda Jones—also will offer up holiday tunes.

Prior to the show at JPAC, the orchestra will perform a “pay what you can” rehearsal show at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 12, at Eaton Chapel on the Beloit College campus.

BJSO Musical Director Rob Tomaro said while the holiday performance won’t be a typical orchestra experience, it will be one area residents won’t want to miss.

“It’s going to be a very unique show,” he said. “We’re very excited.”

Part of the challenge to providing a different holiday experience includes adapting the performances to accurately reflect a culture and musical standard, Tomaro said.

“There are melodies from all over the world in this show that we’re not used to playing,” he said. “To play them authentically, you have to do some research and practice.”

For those who have never attended a BJSO show, Tomaro said the holiday performance presents a perfect opportunity.

“As you might realize, when people think about going to an orchestra concert, they don’t know what to expect,” he said. “But overwhelmingly, when people come, their reaction is, ‘Wow, this is fantastic.’”

Tomaro admitted he might be biased, but he believes BJSO has as much talent as many orchestras in larger cities.

“Come and be surprised at how good your hometown orchestra is,” he said. “You will be pleasantly surprised at how good this group is.”

On the night before the BJSO show, JPAC will host “Holiday Harmonies,” a holiday-focused, singer-songwriter show Executive Director Nathan Burkart said will bring a fresh spin on traditional Christmas music.

“What we’re doing is we’re taking something that’s very commercial like Christmas and fusing it with pure art,” he said. “It’s going to be a perfect combination, I think.”

The show will feature three Madison-based music groups—The Mascot Theory, Kerosene Kites and Lost Lakes. The bands often perform around the country.

Individually, The Mascot Theory has won 22 different Madison Area Music Association Awards and was named artist of the year in both 2016 and 2017. Kerosene Kites is composed of songwriters/Flannel Fest co-founders Beth Kille of the Beth Kille Band and Erik Kjelland, formerly of The Mascot Theory. Lost Lakes performed at this year’s Bonfire Music and Arts Festival, headlined by The Motet, in Yuba and at the 2018 Grandoozy event in Denver that featured Kendrick Lamar, Stevie Wonder and Florence + The Machine.

At the JPAC show, the three groups will perform separately while also likely sharing the stage at times.

The music will have more of an acoustic feel to it, Burkart said. Songs will include holiday hits and some original performances, and the theater will be decorated to celebrate the holidays.

“People should be able to come and hear some of their favorite Christmas tunes but also hear original music at the same time,” he said.

Burkart went on to say “Holiday Harmonies” might prove to be one of the most talent-rich shows in JPAC’s history.

“I think, honestly, if people want to come and hear a top-five-sounding concert in the history of the performing arts center, this is something you’re going to want to come and see,” he said. “It’s going to be one of the best sounding shows you’ll ever hear in this facility.”

Chordhawks coming to First Lutheran Church

The Badger Chordhawks Chorus will join a pair of other music groups for “Christmas With the Chordhawks,” a special holiday show Saturday at First Lutheran Church in Janesville.

The Chordhawks Chorus is an all-male, a cappella vocal ensemble with around 20 members from throughout Wisconsin.

Director Christopher Smith said the group will perform popular Christmas songs such as “Winter Wonderland” and “Merry Little Christmas,” but the show also will include other holiday tunes from around the globe.

“There’s a little bit of something for everyone in this performance,” Smith said. “It’s really quite varied. It’s all the songs of the season in one concert.

“If you like Christmas music or you like holiday music, you will enjoy this show,” he added. “And even if you don’t, there’s something for those people, too.”

The show will feature two guests: A festival choir featuring 40 local singers and the Academy Singers, a local children’s choir.

Smith said the concert will be a good way for people to prepare for the holidays.

“There’s no greater way to kick off the holiday season,” he said. “There’s no greater way than with the music, great food and fun.”