The Night Before Christmas as Only Professor Stephen West Can Recite It at DCB’s Holiday Concert
By Todd Nissen
He is a celebrated singer who has performed in operas around the world. On Dec. 3, Stephen West will use his booming bass-baritone pipes to narrate The Night Before Christmas at the Dexter Community Band’s holiday concert.
The performance will mark a couple of new moments in a long and distinguished career for West, who is a professor of music at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance, and a past chair of the school’s Department of Voice. Although he has entertained audiences with numerous legendary opera roles, he has not before publicly narrated the famous poem originally called “Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas.”
West’s performance will also be a unique father and son on-stage moment. West’s son, Matthew West, is a tuba player in the band. “I consider it a privilege,” Stephen West said. “I have been a performer my whole career, and my wife and children have attended numerous performances I have given, but this will be another first.” Professor Stephen West
What does West hope audience members take from the piece? “I’d like people to take a trip down memory lane. Enjoy those flashbacks to the delight we had as children with our families, listening to this dramatic tale. Hopefully, this is one of those ways we can all be uplifted and brought closer together at this time of the year,” he said.
Originally commissioned by the Cleveland Orchestra, the piece includes numerous band soloists and complex orchestration in an original and cinematic score that musically stages the poem from beginning to end.
The band’s free holiday concert will also feature members of the Dexter Community Chorale performing White Christmas, On with the Snow! – a medley of Sleigh Ride, Winter Wonderland and Let It Snow! and Christmas on Broadway.
Director William W. Gourley is featuring individual members of the band throughout the 2023-24 season. At the holiday concert Gayle Fischer, principal flutist, will perform Short Fantasy on Greensleeves.
The free concert takes place at the Center for Performing Arts in Dexter High School, 2200 North Parker Road, Dexter, at 3 p.m.
After the December concert, Dexter Community Band has two more free concerts in its 2023-24 season.
- February 25, 2024 – Escape the Winter Blahs
- May 19, 2024 – An Afternoon with Gershwin