Youth are served for David Benoit’s Christmas tribute to Charlie Brown – Reading Eagle

Jazz lovers can enjoy the annual holiday concert at Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest by pianist / composer David Benoit and get a glimpse of Berks Youth Chorus back in action Sunday at 3 a.m. at the Miller Center for the Arts at Reading Area Community College.

“David Benoit Christmas Tribute to Charlie Brown,” featuring singer-songwriter Courtney Fortune, presented by Berks Arts, will continue a long tradition of welcoming the holiday season with jazz. And what better way to celebrate the beloved characters of Peanuts than with a choir of students from grades 5 to 12?

David Benoit honors Charlie Brown Christmas at the Miller Center on Sunday afternoon.

As Benoit travels the country, he has selected choirs to participate in the presentation of familiar Christmas songs and “Charlie Brown” after the intermission. BYC Executive and Artistic Director Sam Barge, who is happy to have this opportunity for his students to perform, said the choir for the show will be comprised of 15-20 singers from the Choir (grades 5-7) and Mastersingers (levels 8 to 12).

Barge, who became artistic director of BYC in fall 2020, and more recently took on the additional role of executive director, said the older choirs had just completed their first live concert since the end of the pandemic of COVID-19, November 15. The youngest choir, All Stars (grades 3 and 4), will resume their live performances after being fully vaccinated.

“I had the foresight to graduate at the start of a respiratory pandemic with a choir conducting (masters) degree (from Temple University),” Barge said with a laugh. “I am very grateful to have been hired despite everything.

“Everything” included learning to manage virtual rehearsals and on-the-fly online performances, as conductors all over the world scrambled to keep their singers together and in a good voice, and empowering them. to occur.

Barge, a native of Marietta, Ga. And a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said the 2020-21 school year, which included three virtual concerts, was a big challenge. The rehearsals consisted of singers tuning in to hear Barge play the piano and sing the parts to them. Then the singers should register themselves and Barge should put the pieces together.

“We had to sort of reinvent the wheel,” he said.

But despite the difficulties, “It was a time to pause and ask, why are we doing this? Why are you joining the choir? Said Barge. “I tried to focus a lot on building a bigger community.”

During rehearsals, in addition to learning parts, the singers took part in “Chorus for Causes,” a program in which children learn about philanthropy, service and issues close to their hearts. They choose a thematic area to explore each season and choose a partner organization in the community to volunteer with. Each concert then functions as a fundraiser for that organization and an advocacy platform.

The fall 2020 concert benefited Centraide’s COVID-19 relief fund; the winter concert focused on the PA Immigration Resource Center; for spring 2021, they chose Mary’s Shelter. The fall 2021 concert benefited the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Barge said BYC enrollments declined somewhat during the pandemic as some students, tired of virtual learning, decided to postpone their involvement. Those who stayed, however, “had the will and the resilience to get better, and I credit them for what they were able to endure.”

Now that rehearsals are back to normal, Barge hopes to recruit more singers. Prospective BYC members can sign up for the winter season, which begins rehearsals on Monday, or the spring season, which begins March 7. For complete information on how to become a member, visit

David Benoit was inspired to become a jazz musician after seeing the first TV special “A Charlie Brown Christmas” in 1965, because of Vince Guaraldi’s delightful score. For the past decade, Benoit has been the composer and musical director / performer on all of the new specials “Charlie Brown Christmas” and “The Peanuts Movie”.

Star singer Courtney Fortune

Three-time Grammy nominee Benoit with over 25 albums in his discography – the most recent is “It’s a David Benoit Christmas! (2020) – performed in the White House under Reagan, George HW Bush and Clinton; he has been an arranger / conductor / performer with The Rippingtons, Kenny Loggins, Patti Austin, Dave Koz, David Sanborn and many others; and toured around the world. He is Music Director of the Asia America Symphony Orchestra and the Asia America Youth Orchestra.

Fortune, in addition to performing as a singer, is the founder of Songmaker Sessions, songwriting and recording workshops, and private coaching for teens and adults. She has released two albums, has been recognized by the John Lennon Foundation and is the recipient of the Brian Wilson Musical Achievement Award.

The concert will feature original Guaraldi “Charlie Brown” classics, additional Benoit tunes and traditional holiday favorites.

If you are going to

Event: David Benoit Christmas Tribute to Charlie Brown

When: 3 p.m. Sunday

Or: Miller Center for the Arts at Reading Area Community College, 4 N. Second St.

Tickets: $ 49

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