CSO Presents Annual Home For The Holidays With Alison Brown On Banjo

Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Alison Brown
Alison Brown

The Chattanooga Symphony and Opera will be presenting its annual family holiday tradition, Home for the Holidays, on Dec. 20 and 21, at the Tivoli Theatre. Each season the show is all-new, and over the past several years, the show has included local and national guest artists, vocalists, dancers, costumed characters, bells, and choruses. The 2014 family-friendly Home for the Holidays concerts have a new twist this season with Alison Brown, Grammy-nominated banjo player, who will be performing holiday tunes with a mix of folk, jazz and bluegrass.

The first half of the program is holiday classics, such as “Christmas Festival” and Farandole, as well as performances by the Metropolitan Bells, frequent guests of the CSO’s holiday program, directed by Gary Bynum. The second half features Ms. Brown performing festive songs such as “The Five String Nutcracker,” “Carol of the Kings,” “Greensleeves,” and “Sleigh Ride.” Local fiddler and businessman Fletcher Bright will join in on violin on several numbers.  

Santa will be available in the lobby for pre-concert and intermission for photos and wish-giving at both performances. Tickets start at $21 (while supplies last) and students and kids are $15 each. Tickets are available online at www.chattanoogasymphony.org or by calling 267-8583. 

Review for Alison Brown:
Alison Brown has achieved success in many areas: a Harvard graduate, record label co-founder and owner, mother, and, the role that most people know her in: banjo virtuoso. An internationally recognized musician with a wide-reaching and loyal fan base, Ms. Brown first came to national prominence when she was asked by Alison Krauss to join her band Union Station in 1989. Ms. Brown had already made a name for herself prior to that by performing extensively with fiddler Stuart Duncan, and on occasional pick-up sessions with artists such as Vince Gill, Byron Berline and John Hickman. 

In the summer of 1978, she traveled the country with Duncan and his father, playing festivals and contests. A first place finish at the Canadian National Banjo Championship helped her land a one-night gig at the Grand Ole Opry. And around the time Ms. Brown graduated from high school, she and Duncan recorded a duo album for Ridge Runner Records entitled Pre-Sequel. 

Ms. Brown’s journey to a professional music career took a detour while she attended Harvard, studying history and literature, then UCLA, where she secured an MBA and went to work as an investment banker. After taking a hiatus to return to composing and recording music, Ms. Brown assembled the material for her solo debut, the Grammy nominated Simple Pleasures. A three-year stint with Alison Krauss and Union Station and a year serving as band leader for Michelle Shocked followed as did bluegrass music’s highest accolade for an instrumentalist: the International Bluegrass Music Association Banjo Player of the Year in 1991. 

In 1995 Ms. Brown put her financial background to work, founding Compass Records with her husband Garry West. Celebrating its 15th anniversary in 2009, the Nashville-based Compass Records Group is an internationally recognized label group with a catalog of over 600 roots music releases across the Compass Records, Green Linnet, Mulligan Records and Xenophile catalogs. Compass Records Group is home to artists such as Colin Hay, Catie Curtis, Lúnasa, Solas, Martin Hayes and The Waifs, and has been called “one of the greatest independent labels of the last decade” by Billboard Magazine.  

Ms. Brown tours internationally with the Alison Brown Quartet, was personally requested to play at the 2007 inauguration of Harvard’s first female president, Drew Faust, and was the 2007 recipient of Irish America Magazine’s “Stars of the South Award” for Compass Records’ efforts towards the “cultivation and preservation of Irish music.” Ms. Brown’s discography includes four releases on Vanguard Records as well as six on the Compass Records label, including The Company You Keep (March 2009). She currently lives in Nashville with her husband, Garry West, and their two children, Hannah and Brendan.


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