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ONNY holiday concert to benefit Massena Music Friends

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MASSENA - Massena Music Friends have lined up their next fundraiser, and it’s a holly, jolly one.

The Orchestra of Northern New York, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary, will return to Massena on Dec. 15 for a Christmas concert to benefit the Massena Central School District’s music program. The concert, “A Holiday Celebration,” will be held at 7:30 p.m. in the Massena High School auditorium.

What makes it even more special, Massena Music Friends President Paul A. Haggett said, is that the Massena High School Mixed Chorus directed by Christopher Lincoln will perform several weeks with the orchestra, including the featured piece, The Many Moods of Christmas by Robert Russell Bennett.

In addition to The Many Moods of Christmas, the concert will feature performances of Christmas season favorites like Babes in Toyland by Victor Herbert, Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite, Sleigh Ride by Leroy Anderson, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas and Handel’s immortal Hallelujah Chorus.

“We are so thrilled to be bringing the Orchestra of Northern New York back to Massena,” Mr. Haggett said.

“We’re even more thrilled our local students will have the unique opportunity to sing with professional musicians. What I think is part of the appeal is the fact that the Mixed Choir students are going to have the opportunity to sing with a professional orchestra. That’s not something that comes along every day or every year,” he said.

“We’re happy to not only potentially raise a good bit of money for the music program,” Mr. Haggett said, but we’re able to provide a unique experience for kids here in Massena that are in the Mixed Choir.”

The Orchestra of Northern New York, the region’s only professional orchestra, had performed excerpts from Handel’s Messiah along with the Potsdam Community Chorus at Sacred Heart Church in Massena last December. That event was sponsored by the Performing Arts Committee created by Massena Mayor James F. Hidy.

This year, the concert is being organized by Massena Music Friends with the sponsorship of more than a dozen local businesses to support the Massena Central School District’s music program after the Performing Arts Committee offered them the concert as a possible fundraiser.

Proceeds will benefit Massena Music Friends, whose main goal is to provide “beyond-the-budget” funding to supplement the existing, core Massena school music program.

“We very enthusiastically said yes,” Mr. Haggett said.

“Last year’s show was sold out. The success of the 2011 concert, which resulted in a donation of over $1,700 to MMF, made bringing the show back to Massena a no-brainer. It certainly has a lot of potential. If we can replicate the success that the Mayor’s Committee had last year, then we’ll be thrilled,” he said.

Even if they don’t meet the goal, “I think we’ll be thrilled as well,” Mr. Haggett said. “Goal one is really to cover our costs and goal two is to raise additional funds for our youth to supplement and support the outside budget needs of the (music) program.”

Tickets are $18 for adults and $15 for students and seniors. They are available at Seasons Specialty Gifts on West Orvis Street, Phil and Jackie’s gift shop on Main Street and the Greater Massena Chamber of Commerce office, 16 Church Street.

Tickets are also available online or over the phone from Community Performance Series, http://www2.potsdam.edu/cps/events.html or 267-2277, and at the CPS box office at Snell Theater, SUNY Potsdam.

Major sponsors of the concert are SeaComm Federal Credit Union and Dr. Luis Canales, Massena. WMSA and Mix 96.1 are media sponsors.

Additional support is being provided by Curran Renewable Energy, Massena Savings and Loan, Phillips Memorial Home, Blevins Seaway Motors, Seaway Orthopedics, Pinto, Mucenski, Hooper and VanHouse, Hoot Owl Development, Drs. Sanjay and Mukta Gupta, North Country Savings Bank, Northern Music and Video, Burley & Guminiak Engineers, Tom Post State Farm Insurance, NBT Bank, Hannaford and Manley-Williams Insurance.

Mr. Haggett said additional sponsorships are welcome, and other local businesses or individuals interested in supporting this year’s performance can send their contribution to Massena Music Friends, P.O. Box 83, Massena, N.Y. 13662.

“The Messiah concert showed that music is great way for our community to come together at the holidays, and we encourage folks to share in that experience again this year by helping us to fill the high school auditorium for this wonderful show”, she said.

“It’s a privilege to welcome an important cultural organization like ONNY to Massena, and an honor to have a role in providing our local students with a truly professional performance experience,” he added.

Proceeds will allow Massena Music Friends to continue supporting the school district’s music program as schools grapple with anticipated funding difficulties in the years ahead.

“Thanks to the funds we received from the Messiah concert last year, we were able to step in and meet an emergency need for a new electric keyboard at Madison Elementary at the start of this school year,” Mr. Haggett said.

“Helping with the cost of expensive instruments, and supporting expanded musical opportunities for our students are great ways that we can build on the tradition of music excellence that is one of the strongest assets of our Massena schools,” he said.

For more information on the concert, contact Mr. Haggett at 250-1625 or Pat Tubbs at 842-1377.

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