MARSHALL - Prairie poets will be included in the annual "A Very Prairie Christmas" concert Saturday. The concert starts at 7:30 p.m. in the Schwan Community Center for the Performing Arts at Marshall High School.
Featured groups will be the Southwest Minnesota State University Community Concert Band and the SMSU Jazz Ensemble, conducted by John Ginocchio; Bella Voce women's choir, Men's Glee Club and SMSU Concert Choir, conducted by Stephen Kingsbury; the Southwest Minnesota Orchestra, directed by Daniel Rieppel; and small ensembles from SMSU and the region.
Poetry by Phil Dacey and Bill Holm and others will be read throughout the concert.
"(Former SMSU English professor) Phil Dacey's poem, 'The Animal Christmas,' uses the natural life of animals, bred to do menial labor, as a window into the supernatural, magical and ultimately spiritual," said Rieppel. "There are references to myrrh, and visitations and thus, we are pairing this poem with an improvisation on 'We Three Kings' with Jeanette Bosveld on English Horn."
Holm's writings will be featured as well, Rieppel said.
"Bill Holm's piece is more prose than poem but speaks of Christmases past, especially through the eyes of the aging Franz Liszt, lion of the piano, bold innovator in composition, and now aging magus," Rieppel said. "He improvises a waltz, called 'In Former Times' and includes it in his contemplative 'Christmas Tree Suite,' published for his granddaughter at the end of his life. I will play this waltz, 'Ehemals,' during Dean Loft's reading."
Another poem recited will be by SMSU English professor Marianne Zarzana.
"Marianne Zarzana's poem, 'Christmas Vacation,' is a miniature on the joys of errant children come home for Christmas vacation, a whimsical glimpse at a mother and daughter viewing a video about high school love and heartbreak," Rieppel said. "(Retired SMSU English professor) Leo Dangel's poem 'One Winter Night' is from his book, 'Home from the Field,' and speaks to the glad poverty of a Christmas on the prairie, presents made out of what is at hand, with hands hardened by years of physical work with the care and love shown by a father to his son. Our own 'Woodland Strings' quartet will perform during this reading."
Kingsbury, an SMSU music professor and director of choral activities, conducts the Men's Glee Club, Bella Voce and the Concert Choir.
"All three groups will be performing beloved holiday works for choir from throughout history," said Kingsbury. "Our program will span from the Renaissance to the music of today.
"I sincerely hope (the public) will join us for this festive holiday treat."