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News : Entertainment Oct 20, 2010 - 4:58 AM

Ring in the holidays with the 17th annual Rob Mathes Christmas concert

By Rob Mathes Christmas Concert

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Rob Mathes and his beloved brand of holiday musical magic is back for a 17th year with an extraordinary mix of world-class musicians, holiday originals and remarkably reworked holiday classics… and a brand new home. The Grammy and Emmy-nominated Mathes, fresh from co-producing and arranging the acclaimed Symphonicities album with Sting, and currently co-producing the debut CD for Glee star Matthew Morrison, is moving his annual holiday concert to the Palace Theater in Stamford, Connecticut, for a ONE-NIGHT-ONLY engagement on Saturday, December 18, at 8:00 p.m.

Tickets for the 2010 Rob Mathes Christmas Concert are $55, $40 and $35 and are available online through the Palace Theater/Stamford Center for the Arts at or through The Palace’s Box Office by calling 203-359-9108. The Palace Theater is located at 61 Atlantic Street, Stamford, Conn. This year’s concert is a benefit for Through the Eyes of Children: The Rwanda Project, an award-winning non-profit photography project that works with orphaned children in Rwanda.

Mathes, often lovingly referred to as “Mr. Christmas” by fans and fellow musicians for his nearly two-decades of performances of one of our region’s “can’t miss” holiday traditions, will once again be joined by his all-star band, featuring bassist Will Lee of David Letterman’s famed “CBS Orchestra” and longtime Mathes’ guitarist Billy Masters; the 30+ member Choir of Saints and Friends; award-winning vocalists including James “D-Train” Williams, and others. The set list will once again be full of what fans have come to expect from Mathes – a seasonal mix of original holiday compositions alongside imaginative and entertaining re-workings of holiday classics – all spanning the worlds of R&B, pop, jazz, classical and then some.

A self-described Christmas fanatic, Mathes would seem to have more to celebrate than ever this year thanks to his work with Sting, as well as Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook, which he produced with the amazing artist Bettye LaVette, which has garnered rave reviews. The year also included another Emmy-nomination for his work as Musical Director for The Kennedy Center Honors, now regularly hailed as one of the finest musical/variety shows on television. He soon heads back to Washington for his eighth year on the project, which has seen him arrange and lead tributes to artists including Paul McCartney, Merle Haggard, Jerry Herman, (2010 honorees), Bruce Springsteen, Dave Brubeck, Grace Bumbry, Barbara Streisand, Twyla Tharp, Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey of The Who, Diana Ross, Brian Wilson, Leon Fleisher, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Dolly Parton, Smokey Robinson, Tony Bennett, Tina Turner, Elton John, Joan Sutherland, John Williams, James Brown, Loretta Lynn, Itzhak Perlman, James Levine, Chita Rivera and Paul Simon. This year Rob also managed to fit in one of his most ambitious and acclaimed musical projects, writing and performing his expansive song cycle “At Night A Song Is With Me,” written with lyrics by renowned poet Micheal O'Siadhail, which made its world premiere at Christ Church in Greenwich in 2010 and will have an encore presentation on November 6 of this year.

As grateful as he is for his success, however, Mathes still feels something truly special about returning home to celebrate the season he loves. “It’s amazing to me that we’ve been doing these Christmas concerts for almost 20 years,” Mathes said. “What began as a little gathering in a church on a hill somehow has grown to become a sold-out event at some of our area’s most prestigious concert halls. This year, after 15 years at SUNY Purchase, we are thrilled to be moving on to the historic and beautiful Palace Theater in Stamford.”

Rob Mathes’ has shared his remarkable talents with a veritable “Who’s Who” of music industry greats over the course of his career as an arranger, producer, songwriter and performer. Classically trained and deeply rooted in the worlds of rock, pop and R&B, Mathes regularly embraces multiple genres and even generations, producing recent records for the chart-topping young band Panic at the Disco and The Young Veins, as well as working as a producer for Rod Stewart, Carly Simon, Vanessa Williams and many others.

Rob’s work as a musical director has won him Emmy nominations for The Kennedy Center Honors and put him at the center of one of the most high-profile musical events in recent memory when he musically directed the “We Are One” Inauguration Concert for President Obama at the Lincoln Memorial. The concert, presented on HBO, featured Stevie Wonder, Jon Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, U2, Beyonce and others. He is also the longtime Music Director for the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame concert, presented each year by the legendary producer Phil Ramone.

As an arranger, Rob has orchestrated music for a number of stars all over the stylistic spectrum from Sting, Elton John, Tony Bennett, Mary J Blige, and Tim McGraw to Lou Reed, Sade, Eric Clapton, Jay Z, nevershoutnever, Butch Walker, Avril Lavigne, Fall Out Boy, Beck, Aretha Franklin, Hall and Oates, and Mariah Carey. He has also worked with leading classical artists including Renee Fleming, Bryn Terfel, and Yo Yo Ma. Rob worked closely with Luciano Pavarotti as the arranger and guitarist on the last six Pavarotti and Friends concerts, held in the legendary tenor’s hometown of Modena, Italy. In addition, Mathes lent his talents to The Three Tenors, arranging and playing guitar on a version of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” that appeared on their best-selling CD, The Three Tenors-Live in Paris. Rob was the special guest artist for the 2000 Boston Pops Christmas Tour and has subsequently written several arrangements for them.

Rob’s talents as a composer are continually in demand as well. He was commissioned by the world-renowned, Grammy-winning conductor Leonard Slatkin to write a Gershwin-themed piece called “Gershwiniana” for the Los Angeles Symphony. Slatkin also commissioned Rob to write “A Standing Ground: Concertino For Orchestra,” which was premiered by The Nashville Symphony conducted by Slatkin in 2009. He also worked on a piece for The Britten Sinfonia, one of London’s finest contemporary ensembles.

As a songwriter, Rob’s songs have been recorded by Bonnie Raitt, Oleta Adams, Aaron Neville, Rascal Flatts, Wynonna Judd and Vanessa Williams among many others.

Rob’s own music has also won legions of fans thanks to his acclaimed 2004 release Evening Train, which featured a musical boundary spanning stylistic mix, ranging from pop to R&B to gospel and beyond. He is currently working on the follow-up to this record, Wheelbarrow. Rob also showcased his trademark versatility in his 2007 double CD release, Orchestral Songs. His holiday-themed releases William the Angel and Christmas is Coming have also gained him fans across the country, thanks in part to his 1997 PBS television special Rob Mathes, Christmas is Coming. The show, shown on PBS stations nationwide, featured special guests Michael McDonald, Vanessa Williams and renowned actor Ossie Davis.

Rob Mathes’ Christmas Concerts are always presented to benefit a charity that is close to Rob’s heart. This year, the Christmas Concert will benefit Through the Eyes of Children: The Rwanda Project, which is an award-winning photography project, and is the culmination of ten years of photographic workshops for the children living at the Imbabazi Orphanage in Gisenyi, Rwanda. A dedicated group of Americans have been traveling to Rwanda to teach the children photography skills; now the children’s work is shown in worldwide exhibits that showcase the children’s lives today, as seen through their own eyes. The exhibit has been shown at the U.S. Embassy in Kigali, Rwanda, the U.S. Senate Building in Washington, D.C., and in exhibits in France, Sweden, Belgium and Canada, and was showcased at the United Nations in April 2004 to mark ten years after the genocide; the photography exhibition was also displayed at the New York and Los Angeles premieres of the movie “Hotel Rwanda,” and at such premiere locations as NYU, the Houston and Southwest Florida Holocaust Museums, and The Brooklyn Children’s Museum. The children’s photographs will be on exhibit at the Rob Mathes Christmas Concert and opportunities to support the project, such as assisting with the transition of the children from the orphanage onto their next stage of schooling and adulthood, will be presented. Through the Eyes of Children: The Rwanda Project ( was conceived by photographer David Jiranek (1958-2003), a long-time supporter of the Rob Mathes Christmas Concert and a Greenwich resident.

Tickets for the 17th annual Rob Mathes Christmas Concert, December 18, 2010, at The Palace Theater, Stamford, are available online at To learn more about Rob Mathes, visit

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