Finding 30 minutes to spare in the middle of a December day rushed by the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, may sound like a challenge, but for Nacogdoches visitors, the reward can be a concise, intimate and free musical concert featuring world-class musicians. Westminster Presbyterian Church welcomes the community to celebrate the season with brief and uplifting ?Mid-Day Noels.?
This year marks the 24th season of Mid-Day Noels and the concert series begins Thurs., Dec. 6 at 12:15 p.m. with baritone James Held and accompanist Shirley Watterston. Held is an experienced performer with stage credits for a variety of musical styles including musical theatre, new works, and traditional concert and operatic repertoire. He joined Toledo Opera in the fall, where he covered the role of Papageno in ?The Magic Flute.? He will sing Moralès in Bizet's ?Carmen? with Toledo Opera and Opera Carolina in early 2019. In the last two years, Held has amassed credits which include performances with the Des Moines Metro Opera, Gulf Coast Symphony, Opera Idaho, University of Wisconsin Opera, Opera Idaho, Leipzig Symphony, Madison Symphony, Madison Choral Union and The Fisher Ensemble. His extensive training as a recitalist and touring musician is accented by experience as an assistant director and production assistant. Held holds a Master of Music degree from the University of Colorado-Boulder and a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The SFA Madrigal Singers will perform Thurs., Dec. 13 at 12:15 p.m. under the direction of Dr. Michael Murphy. The SFA Madrigal Singers is a highly select chamber ensemble comprised of graduate students and advanced undergraduate students from the SFA A Cappella Choir. Murphy is Director of Choral Activities and Associate Professor of Music at SFA where he conducts choral ensembles, teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in conducting, choral literature, choral techniques, and administers the masters in choral conducting program. Murphy serves as an active adjudicator and clinician for workshops, festivals, honor choirs, and clinics and his international conducting experiences include Austria, China, Czech Republic, Sweden, and Germany. In 2016, he was awarded the Confucius Institute Understanding China Fellowship and served as Visiting Scholar to Sun Yat-sen University, South China University of Technology, and Guangzhou University of Foreign Studies. Murphy received degrees in Conducting and Choral Music Education from Florida State University and East Carolina University and has held several state and national leadership positions in professional organizations.
Harpist Martha Jhoana De Luna Mateo will close out the 24th season with a solo performance on Thurs., Dec. 20 at 12:15 p.m. De Luna Mateo was born in San Pedro de Macorís, Dominican Republic. She began studying music at the age of 7 and was composing music for piano, choir and chamber ensembles by the age of 13, and has composed more than 200 pieces for piano, more than 100 original compositions for voice and piano, numerous hymn arrangements for piano, chamber music and choir, and has released two CDs of original music. De Luna Mateo performed several times at the National Theater of the Dominican Republic and in the U.S. Embassy in the D.R. She has traveled for performances in Orlando, Puerto Rico, Chicago, and Cuba. She performed an original composition for Super Bowl Houston Live 2017. De Luna Mateo serves as the Music Director for First Christian Church in Lufkin where she conducts the choir and contributes as a pianist and organist. She also collaborates as a pianist for her Seventh Day Adventist Church. She began studying harp in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. She studied conducting under former SFA professor Dr. Gene Moon, started a Master degree in Harp Performance at SFA under Emily Mitchell, and began work on a Master Degree in Piano Performance with Dr. Andrew Parr.
"She is one of the most gifted people I have taught in 30 years teaching at SFA," Parr said.
Organizer and Music Director Dr. Deborah Dalton calls the free Mid-Day Noel concerts a ?Christmas Present? from Westminster to Nacogdoches.
Following the concerts, lunches will be served in Westminster Hall for a suggested donation of $7 per person.