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Concert Review

Galena Street East

43rd Annual Holiday Tapestry - December 6, 2014

by Nancy Bramlett

Wow...totally unexpected joy and awe.  I had seen a couple of Galena Street East’s videos on YouTube and decided this show was worth a look.  It was worth way more than that.  They stole my heart.  I plan to bring my family to this amazing event every year from now on. 

Though the community they come from isn’t affluent, these 5 to 18-year-olds are given an advantage over every “advantaged” suburb I have ever seen.  They are invited to embrace excellence, and embrace it they do – excellence that crosses over generations.  Jeri and Richard Clinger have given their lives to this community for 43 years, and the result is nothing short of pure beauty.  Choreographer Ron Cisneros and his team of choreographers are incredible.  The dozens of other adults on the team, some of whom were among the performers of decades before, are a strong backbone that support this amazing undertaking.

Why do I plan on attending every year with my family and bringing tons of friends?  This was a Broadway-level performance for almost the entire 2½ hour show.  Number after number after number presented incredible costumes, stellar dancing, great singing, terrific sets, fabulous sound, and a message of the true meaning of Christmas.  Imagination galore kept the awe-factor alive all afternoon.  So many songs I had never heard before! If I wrote it all down it would take a book.

The performers consisted of several groups of talented young people:

  • Galena Tour Company (18 performers: 10th through 12th graders)

  • Allegro (girls) & East Street Gang (boys) – (total of 19 performers: 13 to 17-year-olds - in training)

  • East Street Cloggers (12 performers)

  • International Children's Chorus  (33 performers, ages 5 to 14)

For a list of all the cast members, see the program attached.

The show proceeded from a fun, 40s style beginning; to black tuxes, white gowns and beautiful ballroom dancing; to the younger set doing a soft-shoe routine with a super male solo and lots of short solos that let the smaller children shine; to angels changing into Santas and a fabulous female solo.

Then we were treated to Cat-in-the-Hat-themed tap dancers and then young performers who announced themselves “here to testify” that “we're the toys of Christmas,” complete with curly-head paper dolls and toy soldiers all in gold. Then there were wooden soldiers on parade, followed by a mesmerizing solo soldier who shared the story of the Christmas Truce of 1914, when soldiers on opposite sides in WWI declared a spontaneous truce on Christmas night that included singing “Silent Night” together – “Heaven's not beyond the clouds, just beyond the fear.” Tears.

The next section started a trip around the world.  India, Norway, Israel, Philippines, and Ukraine were on the first leg of the journey.  The dances were wonderful.  Then back to the US for a Holiday Hop, 50s style, in black and pink, with a great young man soloing.  The “Polar Express” followed with a “Rockin on Top of the World” twist.  The younger set came out for “I'm the Happiest Christmas Tree.” Then “Everything I Wanted for Christmas” was terrific with all groups included and the audience joining in the clapping and foot-tapping.

Christmas happiness was wished in many different languages, and there was dashing though the snow of many different countries.  Next a beautiful song reminded us that “all around the world, people want to be loved.... [They are] no different than us.”

The journey continued with exciting trips to Africa, Spain, French Canada, Greece, Hungary and Ireland.  The tone changed with “Carol of the Bells” and a solo of “I Wonder as I Wander,” then “Do You Hear What I Hear?” “The Little Drummer Boy,” and a fabulous solo of “Where Are You Christmas?”  Then more fun with “Sleigh Ride,” cowboy tapping style, and “Come on Christmas Time.” 

We heard the wonderful story of “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” based on a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  Even after his wife died and his son was injured in the war, he wrote, “God is not dead; nor doth he sleep! The Wrong shall fail, the Right prevail, with peace on earth, good-will to Men.”

“Just Chillin'“ and “Let it Snow” provided more head-bopping fun.  Then the “Little Shepherd” questioned, “What Can I Give to the King?” with lyrics that included, “He'll give it all back to you."  “Silent Night” was absolutely gorgeous with angel costumes. “Christmas is God's way of saying I Love You” was enhanced by sign language (one of several songs that included signing).

More fun ensued with several songs, including “Jammin' in our Jammies,” “Candy Cane Lane,” “So Much to Be Thankful For,” “Halleluiah,” “Little Saint Nick,” “Santa Baby,” Marshmallow World,” “Believe,” and “Let's Have a Christmas Celebration.”

Then there was “A Baby Changes Everything,” with a great solo.  The show ended with a reading of “One Solitary Life” and “For Unto Us a Child Was Born,” including a real baby in a manger with angels and the entire cast.  What an incredible Christmas celebration!  See you all next year at Galena Street East’s next spectacular celebration. Just remember to arrive early or you won't get a seat!

Nancy Bramlett is a Dramatic Coloratura Soprano from Kansas City, MO.  She graduated from Bradley University in Peoria, IL with a Bachelor’s of Music in Vocal Performance. She has most recently studied with Marla Volovna in San Francisco and Zoila Munoz in Davis.  Nancy has had the honor of traveling all over the US and to Europe with the Bradley University Chorale.  She has sung in several choirs since then, as well as performing in opera and musical theater productions and singing solos for local churches, as well as weddings and memorial services.  Nancy has directed choirs; taught voice, piano and Kindermusik; and has been a music director for musical theater. She is currently busy with Classical Music for Christ and as a regular soloist for Cottage Way Christian Church in Sacramento and the Placer County Youth Orchestra. Nancy resides in Rocklin with her husband Scott and three sons: Patrick, Riley and John.

 2014 Reviews