University of Kentucky alumni to join Red Barn Radio for “An Appalachian Christmas” concert

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By Whitney Hale
Special to KyForward

A radio concert featuring some of the state’s best musical artists, including alumni, will celebrate the holidays in a very Kentucky way.

“An Appalachian Christmas,” presented as part of the “Red Barn Radio” program, will showcase the talents of The Sara Holroyd Singers featuring UK alumni, My Brother’s Keeper, The Price Sisters and the McLain Family Band. The concert will begin tonight at 8 p.m. at LexArts Performance Hall.

The “Red Barn Radio” performance by the Sara Holroyd Singers is presented by Room 17 Productions, a nonprofit organization that promotes music education through oral history, preservation and live performance. The choral group, formed in 2015 by UK alumni Renee Collins and Warren Cobb, is made up of former UK Choristers, who sang under the direction of Holroyd from 1979-1987 at UK School of Music, and now perform under the direction of Richard Burns and John Cole.

Sara Holroyd Singers (Photo from UK Now)

UK Professor Emeritus Sara Holroyd taught at UK for 26 years. She received music education degrees from Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College for Teachers and Columbia University and Indiana University, where she studied both trumpet and voice. Though she received no formal training in choral conducting, she progressively started taking over choral groups from retiring professors at UK eventually becoming one of only two female directors of choral activities in the collegiate ranks across the nation.

Holroyd is best known for her colorful and vibrant Madrigal Dinners, “The Gift of Music” concerts and for her collaborations with Salli Terri on “A Shaker Worship Service,” as well as preparing choruses on four occasions to perform with the world-renowned Atlanta Symphony Conductor Robert Shaw. Other collaborations produced performances with such famed choral conductor/arrangers as Robert DeCormier, Donald Craig, Norman Dello Joio and John Jacob Niles.

The Sara Holroyd Singers primarily perform Kentucky music with songs by Niles, Jean Ritchie, Stephen Foster and Terri arrangements of early American Shaker music. The group has been featured on the stages of the Singletary Center for the Arts, Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill, the WoodSongs SongFarmers Gathering and the Lexington Music Awards.

The Sara Holroyd Singers’ appearance on “Red Barn Radio” will include solo performances by alumni Liza Binford, Diane Timmons and Whit Whitaker.

Tickets for “An Appalachian Christmas” are $8 at the door. If you are unable to attend “An Appalachian Christmas,” the concert will be streamed online on Facebook Live, and will be recorded for “Red Barn Radio,” which airs on radio stations all over the country including 8 p.m. Saturdays on WUKY, and a TV special that will air on WTVQ and KET.

“Red Barn Radio” showcases old-time and bluegrass musicians, both from the Commonwealth and neighboring states where Kentucky music has settled and flourished. In weekly conversation and performance with its talented guests, “Red Barn Radio” enlivens and archives Kentucky’s musical heritage, and brings to the airwaves a uniquely refreshing and folksy hour of Americana programming. Renee Collins serves as host of “Red Barn Radio” and Warren Cobb is the show’s line producer.

The Sara Holroyd Singers at Shaker Village.

Whitney Hale writes for UK Now

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