Symphony Orchestra Augusta, Carolina Brass to perform holiday pops concerts

The Carolina Brass Christmas Pops concert at 8 p.m. Dec. 13 will include traditional holiday selections.



Take a break from the hustle and bustle of holiday preparations and spend an evening at pops concerts that feature some favorite seasonal tunes.

Symphony Orchestra Augusta’s annual University Health Care System Pops! At the Bell: Holiday Pops! concert will showcase trumpeter Joe Gransden & Trio at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14, at Bell Auditorium. Tickets are $15-$40 from (706) 826-4705 or

Known for his trumpet performances, Gransden, of New York, has played worldwide and released seven CDs. Also a vocalist, music critics have compared his rich vocals to Chet Baker and Frank Sinatra, according to the symphony’s Web site.

He and his trio will be joined during the concert by Symphony Orchestra Augusta.

“He’s a really incredible vocalist and trumpeter,” said Shizuo Z. Kuwahara, the music director and conductor of Symphony Orchestra Augusta. “I was able to hear some of his recordings and was very impressed with his performance. He had a very warm voice, and we always feature a guest artist for this holiday program.”

Previous Holiday Pops! concerts have featured trombonist Wycliff Gordon and jazz vocalist James Torme, the son of legendary American singer Mel Torme, he said.

“I thought it would be fitting to feature an artist of the same quality and caliber,” Kuwahara said. “He’s going to be playing some of his favorite tunes that feature real strengths of his voice and trumpet playing. Audience participation is also a part of the program.”

Each year, the concert includes a sing-a-long at the end of the show. Gransden will lead the audience in five holiday tunes, Kuwahara said.

This holiday season, Symphony Orchestra Augusta is offering patrons the Compose Your Own Series, which allows them to select four concerts from the Symphony Series, Pops! At the Bell and Columbia County Music Series and make their own personalized series.

“This is something that we do this time of year as a gift to patrons,” Kuwahara said.

The deal starts Dec. 12 and ends Dec. 21. Tickets are $50. The offer is open to the public and has a limit of four per person.


AIKEN PERFORMING Arts Group will present its Carolina Brass Christmas Pops concert featuring Carolina Brass, a national touring brass ensemble from North Carolina, at 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 13, at the URS Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are $35 for adults and $15 for students from (803) 648-1438.

The six members of Carolina Brass include Tim Hudson, trumpet; Dennis de Jong, trumpet; Robert Campbell, horn; David Wulfeck, trombone; Matt Ransom, tuba; and John Beck, percussion.

The musicians were trained at some of the country’s most prestigious schools, including the New England Conservatory of Music, Indiana University and Eastman School of Music and have extensive national and international performing, recording and touring experience, according to the group’s Web site.

“We try to bring really high quality entertainment to Aiken,” said Jody Duggan, a board member for Aiken Performing Arts Group.

During the holiday concert, Carolina Brass will perform songs including White Christmas, Sleigh Ride, Bugler’s Holiday, What Child Is This, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and other traditional favorites.

Carolina Brass combines skill and humor to bring a fresh approach to music of all types, providing a vibrant and energetic musical experience, according to the group’s Web site.

“I’ve heard them play, and they’re wonderful,” Duggan said. “They’re very upbeat. And not only are they good musicians, but they’re very funny.

‘‘They have these terrific personalities, and they interact with the audience and with one another when they’re on the stage. It’s very entertaining. They really put on quite a show.”

The Carolina Brass Christmas Pops concert will have carol singing for the audience near the end of the program, Duggan said.


WHAT: University Health Care System Pops! At the Bell: Holiday Pops! Featuring Joe Gransden & Trio
7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14, at 7:30 p.m.
Bell Auditorium, 712 Telfair St.
$15, $25 and $40; students and military $7 on the night of the concert only; (706) 826-4705,

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WHAT: Carolina Brass Christmas Pops
8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 13
URS Center for the Performing Arts, 126 Newberry St. SW, Aiken
$35 adults, $15 students; (803) 648-1438