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Home for the Holidays

Theragusa-and-santa-for-web CSO's annual holiday program returns featuring special guest vocalist Michele Ragusa, Broadway and stage star.  She will perform songs such as "Winter Wonderland", "When You Believe", and "Santa Baby".  Of course, you'll want to join in with our annual sing-a-long, and enjoy appearances by Santa and other special guests. Sponsored by First Tennessee Foundation.

"Ms. Ragusa give an inspired comic performance with consistently hilarious effect."  —New York Times

"Ragusa is an absolute scream.....threatening to steal the show with nearly every entrance and exit."   — Broadway.com

Listen to Michele Ragusa    
Conductor James Stephenson Leading American orchestras, instrumentalists, and wind ensembles around the world have performed the music of Chicago-based composer James M. Stephenson, both to critical acclaim and the delight of audiences.  The Boston Herald raved about “straightforward, unabashedly beautiful sounds,” suggesting “Stephenson deserves to be heard again and again!”  A formal sense of melody and tonality characterize his music, each embedded in a contemporary soundscape.  These qualities, coupled with the composer’s keen ability to write to each occasion, have led to a steady stream of commissions and ongoing projects. Most recently, Charles Vernon, Chicago Symphony bass trombonist, asked Stephenson to write a new concerto, a work to be premiered in their 2018/2019 season under the direction of Riccardo Muti.  A second bass trombone concerto will receive its orchestral premiere with the St. Louis Symphony and soloist Gerry Pagano, in 2017-18. “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band commissioned a symphony (the composer’s second in this genre) and will give the work its premiere in 2016 at the prestigious Midwest Clinic.  Additionally, Compose Yourself!, Stephenson’s landmark young-audience work has now been performed over 300 times since its creation in 2002, engaging children in New Zealand and Canada and across the U.S. James M. Stephenson came late to his full-time composing career, having performed 17 seasons as a trumpeter in the Naples Philharmonic in Florida.  As such, the composer is largely self-taught, making his voice truly individual and his life’s work all the more remarkable.   His music catalog now boasts concertos and sonatas for nearly every instrument, earning him the moniker “The Concerto King” from Chicago Symphony clarinetist John Yeh.  The vast majority of those compositions came through commissions by and for major symphony principal players, in Chicago, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Minnesota, Washington DC, St. Louis, Oregon, Milwaukee, and Dallas, among others.  Nearly all of his solo brass works (over 50) have been professionally recorded, and in total, his extensive catalog for all instruments can be heard on over 30 CDs. James Stephenson is also a highly sought-after arranger and conductor, rounding out his constantly busy schedule.  His arrangements have been performed/recorded/broadcast by virtually every major orchestra in the country, including the Boston Pops, Cincinnati Pops, New York Pops and more.  On the podium, Stephenson has led orchestras in Bozeman, Charleston, Ft. Myers, Modesto, and Wyoming, in addition to numerous concert bands.  With the Lake Forest Symphony, near his Illinois home, he has not only conducted but also has served for six years as Composer-in-Residence. His conducting debut with the Chattanooga Symphony comes at their 2016 Holiday Concert.
Michele Ragusa Is thrilled to be making her debut with the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera! She has starred in the Kennedy Center’s Holiday Pops with Marvin Hamlisch and the National Symphony Orchestra and performed with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra under JoAnn Falletta.  She has performed with Stuart Chafetz for the Toronto, Detroit, Indianapolis, Long Beach, Modesto, and Naples Symphonies as well as the Baltimore Philharmonic.  She also recently starred with both the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and Kansas City Symphonies for concert versions of The Music Man and also starred in concert versions of Funny Girl and Kiss Me Kate with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. She last starred on Broadway as Elizabeth in Mel Brook’s Young Frankenstein, succeeding Megan Mullally.  She won the Barrymore Award and received both Lortel and Drama League nominations for her performance as Corinna in Christopher Durang’s Adrift In Macao at Primary Stages, New York City.  She won the Rabin Award for her performance of Adelaide in Guys and Dolls with the Dallas Theatre and San Jose Repertoire Theatre.  She most recently starred in the premiere of Radio Girl at the Goodspeed Opera House with music by Henry Kreiger (Dreamgirls).  Other Broadway: Urinetown (Penny/Hope cover); Ragtime (Evelyn); A Class Act (Mona); Titanic (Caroline); Cyrano (the Novice). Other NYCAdrift In Macao (Corinna). Regional Credits: Hello Dolly (Dolly) - Riverside Theatre; Titanic (Alice Beane) – MUNY; King and I (Anna) – Maltz Theatre; Gypsy (Rose) – The Hangar Theatre; The Drowsy Chaperone (Chaperone) – Cape Playhouse; The Full Monty (Vickie) - Paper Mill; World Goes Round – Pittsburgh Public; Kiss Me Kate ( Lilli/Kate) – Paper Mill Playhouse; Bad Dates- Studio Arena; She Loves Me (Amalia) - Paper Mill Playhouse; Guys and Dolls (Adelaide) – Dallas Theatre Center and San Jose Rep; Noises Off (Belinda) - Studio Arena; Side…Sondheim – Berkshire Theatre Festival; Nunsense (Sr. Amnesia) – Sacramento Music Circus; My Fair Lady (Eliza) with Michael Moriarty - Westbury/Valley Forge; Lend Me A Tenor (Maria) - Portland Stage; Me and My Girl (Jacquie) – Goodspeed Opera House; and South Pacific (Nellie) -Dallas Theatre Center.   More information at www.micheleragusa.com.      

Luken Holdings Pops Series Home for the Holidays Sponsored by First Tennessee Foundation

Holiday Overture by James Stephenson I Saw Three Ships/Jeannette, Isabella Traditional music arranged by James Stephenson Winter Wonderland by Bernard and arranged by James Stephenson What Sweeter Music by John Rutter BasSOON It Will Be Christmas by James Stephenson Troika from Lieutenant Kije by Prokofiev Sleigh Ride by Anderson When You Believe from Prince of Egypt by Stephen Schwartz and arranged by James Stephenson A Charleston Christmas by James Stephenson Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer by Marks and arranged by James Stephenson Here Comes Santa Claus by Autry and arranged by James Stephenson Santa Baby by Joan Javits and arranged by James Stephenson Hot Santa! by James Stephenson The Christmas Song by Torme and arranged by James Stephenson A Holly and Jolly Sing-Along! by James Stephenson