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Friday, 13 December 2013

Annie Haslam ‘In the Spirit of the Holidays’ at Sellersville Theater


Annie Haslam live. Photo taken by Krista Wallhagen.
Annie Haslam, best known as the lead vocalist of the renowned ’70s classical rock group Renaissance and also a successful solo artist and painter, will once again bring her popular “Spirit of the Holidays” show to the Sellersville Theater on Dec. 21 and 22. Haslam, a crystalline five-octave soprano, will perform a number of well-known Christmas carols, both secular and religious, including “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “Silent Night,” “The Christmas Song,” “Joy to the World” and “O Holy Night,” to name a few.

With her distinctive and ethereal voice, Haslam brings a fresh approach to these familiar classics. Haslam recorded two holiday albums on her own White Dove label, 2001’s “It Snows in Heaven Too” and 2009’s “Snowball” and she will perform a few original compositions from these releases as well. In a recent interview, Haslam told me why she chose to do a Christmas-themed show with her already busy schedule and other commitments with Renaissance.

“We have been doing the Christmas show for about seven years now,” she said. “The idea came about from a performance I gave at Christmas time several years ago with my friend Rave Tesar at the Upper Tinicum Lutheran Church in Bucks County, Pa. We had become good friends with the pastor there at that time, a wonderful man name Roger Dennis. We received such an enthusiastic response that Rave and I decided it would be fun to do a Christmas-themed show.”

She said that her Sellersville concerts will be exclusive this year. “We are only doing the two shows this year at the Sellersville Theater. We did not do the show last year due to the death of my longtime friend, Michael Dunford. There was just too much sadness at the time. Michael and I worked together for 41 years. He was an absolutely brilliant composer and musician.”

Haslam will be accompanied by Rave Tesar on keyboards and David J. Keyes on bass, both of whom are members of the contemporary version of Renaissance, which re-formed in 2009 after the original band broke up in the mid ’80s. Also joining Haslam will be musicians Ryche Chlanda on guitar and Charles Descarfino on percussion.

When asked if she would also be performing music from Renaissance, she replied, “Yes, but since we do not have the whole band together, we are only performing a few songs from Renaissance. This is really not a Renaissance show and we want to focus on classic Christmas music.

“Some of the members of Renaissance are off and involved in other commitments. The musicians who will be performing the show with us, Ryche and Charles, are good friends whom we have worked with before on various projects and are both very talented.”

Haslam said that she enjoys singing Christmas music as much as she does her own solo pieces and music from Renaissance. “Absolutely,” she said, “as long as the music is good and has a great melody, which Christmas music certainly does, it is still a great experience and I will always love performing it.”


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