December 3rd, 2021
Join us for a night of popular Christmas tunes, performed by local NOLA artists, as we celebrate the most joyous time of the year.
Alexis Marceaux (vocalist)
Aurora Nealand (saxophone, vocalist)
Meschiya Lake (vocalist)
Arsene DeLay (vocalist)
A Christmas Festival
(1908 – 1975)
The Christmas Song
Arsène DeLay, vocalist
MEL TORMÉ / Bob Lowden
(1925 – 1999)
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
-You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch
-He Carves the Roast Beast
VARIOUS / Jerry Brubaker
Christmastime in New Orleans
Aurora Nealand, saxophone
JOHN NICOLOSI / Mike Esneault
Meschiya Lake, vocalist
ROBERT ALEX ANDERSON / James M. Stephenson
I’ll Be Home for Christmas lexis Marceaux, solo voice
JAY UNGAR / William Grimes
Suite from The Nutcracker, Opus 71a
II. Characteristic Dances:
-Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy
-Dance of the Reed Flutes
1891 – 1892
PYOTR ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY
(1840 – 1893)
-A Holly And Jolly Sing-Along!
-Frosty the Snowman
-Up on the Housetop
-Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
-Joy to the World
-We Wish You a Merry Christmas
James M. Stephenson
Suite from Lieutenant Kijé, Opus 60
(1891 – 1953)
Twelve Days of Christmas
-Arsène DeLay, vocalist
-Alexis Marceaux, solo voice
-Meschiya Lake, vocalist
-Aurora Nealand, saxophone
Waltz of the Flowers from The Nutcracker Suite, Opus 71a
III. Waltz of the Flowers
1891 – 1892
PYOTR ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY
(1840 – 1893)
Hard Candy Christmas
Arsène DeLay, vocalist
CAROL HALL / Emily L. Frederickson
(1936 – 2018)
Fantasia on Greensleeves
Aurora Nealand, clarinet
RALPH VAUGHAN WILLIAMS / Ralph Greeves
(1872 – 1958)
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
Meschiya Lake, vocalist
1943 – 1943
HUGH MARTIN / Mike Esnault
(1914 – 2011)
Concert Suite from The Polar Express
ALAN SILVESTRI / Jerry Brubaker
All I Want for Christmas is You
Alexis Marceaux, solo voice
MARIAH CAREY / Anthony Bisbano
(1908 – 1975)
Conductor Chelsea Gallo has been praised for her ability to, “…lead the orchestra with grace and fiery command” (Schubring). Chelsea will have a multitude of conducting appearances during the 2021/22 season as a highly sought-after conductor. In addition to her responsibilities on the conducting staff for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Ms. Gallo will be Assistant Conductor to the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, Music Director of the Loyola Symphony Orchestra, Assistant Conductor to Opera Orlando, Conducting Fellow for the Dallas Opera, Fellow for the “Turn the Spotlight” sponsorship in New York City, and a regular guest conductor with the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra in Pennsylvania. Most recently, her European management is through Music Et Talent Artist’s Agency where she is represented by Isabelle Raché-Chappellier.
Gallo regularly assists some of the world’s most prominent conductors and musicians while employed for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Recent and upcoming conducting engagements on behalf of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra include recording the music for Lincoln Motor Company (™) Aviator commercials, the Young Persons Concert in Orchestral Hall for November, Detroit community Leadership events, and further community engagement. She has assisted some of the world’s leading conductors including Leonard Slatkin, James Gaffigan, Karina Canellakis, and more. She has attended festivals and masterclasses with leading conductors such as Sir Simon Rattle, Antonio Pappano, Daniel Barenboim, amongst others.
During the COVID-19 Pandemic, her conducting career continued with guest conducting invitations and appearances from the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Jackson Symphony (Jackson, Michigan), Orchestra Sono (Bloomfield Hills, Michigan), the UMS Series (Ann Arbor, Michigan), and being appointed Visiting Conductor for the Denison University Symphony Orchestra (Granville, Ohio.)
Past engagements include subscription concerts with the Zilina Philharmonic, Slovak Sinfonietta, and Jan Albrecht Symphonic Ensemble in Slovakia. While in Vienna, Gallo conducted the Prayner Konservatorium Symphony Orchestra and the Vienna Konservatorium Opera Orchestra. She held a tenure as the assistant conductor for productions at the Volksoper in Vienna. In Czechia, Gallo assisted and covered with the Brno Philharmonic. In 2016, she became the first American and first woman to receive her Masters of Arts in Orchestral Conducting through the dual study program of the Vienna Konservatorium and Jan Albrecht Academy. Her primary teachers were Maksimilijan Cenčić and Leoš Svárovský. Further, she studied piano with Giorgi Latsabidze and violin with Barbara Gorzynska.
Chelsea is the Music Director of the Cosmos Chamber Orchestra, an orchestra devoted to uniting scientific and artistic communities. The past and future collaborations of this ensemble include work with organizations such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Lockheed Martin, the National Institute of Aerospace (NIA), and the European Space Agency (ESA) amongst others. The orchestra’s recording for the Orion ETF-1 Mission was launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The orchestra was also the official recorded Artistic Ensemble for the Hubble Space Telescope 25th Anniversary Celebrations.
An advocate of new music, Chelsea conducted in Operation Opera: a festival for newly composed operas. Also during her time at Michigan, she gave the Michigan premiere of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s piece “Helix” while Music Director of the Life Sciences Orchestra and gave the American premiere of Michael Gordon’s Bassoon Concerto. Further, she directed Hartford Opera’s 2017 production of Who Married Star Husbands by Shuying Li.
Chelsea holds a doctorate degree from the University of Michigan where she was awarded the Helen Wu Graduate Fellowship in Conducting. She studied orchestral conducting with conductor and educator Kenneth Kiesler. Her operatic studies were with Martin Katz and Kathleen Kelly. As an opera conductor, she has conducted productions of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro and Don Giovanni, Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, amongst others.
Guest Artist Bios
Alexis Marceaux is a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter from New Orleans. Marceaux attended high school at New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts training in the Musical Theater department. She then started composing her own music and became a prominent session vocalist.
After studying music at Southeastern Louisiana University she returned to New Orleans and formed her bands Sweet Crude and Alexis & the Samurai. Marceaux has tracked background vocals for big acts such as Tank & the Bangas, Boyfriend & Big Freedia.
She keeps a busy schedule performing internationally with her bands, highlights include: Bonnaroo, High Sierra Music Festival, and New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Tank and The Bangas released their major-label debut album “Green Balloon” in May 2019, and most recently released the band’s follow-up EP “Friend Goals” with a host of features included PJ Morton, CHIKA, Pell, and Duckwrth to name a few.
Aurora Nealand is a sound artist and multi-instrumentalist (saxophones, accordion, voice) based in New Orleans, LA. Nealand has become a prominent force in the New Orleans music scene since she first arrived in 2004 and is the founder and leader of the non-traditional Traditional Jazz band, The Royal Roses, which draws it’s approach to collective improvisation from both the New Orleans Jazz traditions, as well as the AACM, and collage-sound art.
Nealand’s other musical projects include The Monocle Ensemble -her original music project and installation ensemble, Redrawblak Trio, and the Instigation Orchestra. She is an avid devotee of the musical mystery alter-ego band, Rory Danger & the Danger Dangers.
Nealand has toured as a featured artist to national & international festivals including Montreal Jazz Festival, Istanbul Jazz Festival, Copenhagen Jazz Festival, MPB Jazz Festival (Natal, Brazil), Lincoln Center, Summerstage NYC & The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
Nealand is deeply interested in the embodiment and sonification of everyday objects and knowledge-generation. Her “formal” education includes studies in Music Concrete at Oberlin Conservatory and experimental physical theatre studies at the Jacques Lecoq School in Paris. Her “informal” education for the past 15 years includes playing music in the streets and clubs of New Orleans, touring in crammed vans to squat houses & bike co-ops around the world, and working with dancers/theatre artists in improvisational and composed contexts. She has studied/worked with Pauline Oliveros, Jonathan Hart Makwaia, James Singleton, Liz Lerman, Arto Lindsey, Germaine Bazzle, and many more.
Nealand regularly works as a musical facilitator with Found Sound Nation (under Bang on a Can) -an organization which facilitates international musical collaboration and sonic diplomacy, and she has taught at the Walden School for Young Composers.
Nealand was voted “Best Female Performer” (2016 Gambit awards), and “Best Traditional Jazz Band (The Royal Roses)” in the 2015 & 2017 Big Easy Awards. She is the co-founder of SONO (Sound Observatory New Orleans) which facilitates workshops of new music in the New Orleans region. She has been awarded residencies at the New Orleans Contemporary Arts Center, the MacDowell Colony, and the Atlantic Center for the Arts.
Close to the end of the set, she sang a Bessie Smith blues with the line, ‘I’m as good as any woman in your town.’ In New Orleans music, that’s a bold statement – but she is, and better, too.
— ALISON FENSTERSTOCK, NEW ORLEANS TIMES-PICAYUNE
Looking back, it’s no surprise that when a precocious nine-year-old Meschiya Lake hit the stage for a singing contest at a Rapid City, South Dakota steakhouse, she already believed that she could hold her own with the best of them. She had been singing around the house, and competing against adults who thought she was “cute” didn’t intimidate her. When she won the contest – which came with a $500 prize and a weekly in-house singing gig – it made sense that – in some form or another – the groundwork for a career had been laid, even if she didn’t realize it at the time.
For several more years singing for fun and joy continued to trump music as vocation for Lake, but it was only in her early twenties during her stint as a member of the Know Nothing Family Zirkus Zideshow and End of the World Circus – a ragtag traveling troupe that blended traditional circus arts with modern sideshow entertainment – that she ultimately realized exactly what she wanted to do as an adult.
Nights were spent wearing ridiculous costumes, eating bugs, munching glass, and dancing around the stage while twirling flaming nunchucks, Strange, ridiculous, beautiful, and life-changing, it was the best job she had ever had. Lake was fascinated by the nomadic lifestyle and loved the camaraderie amongst the players and the connection they’d make to the audiences in small towns that didn’t know these sorts of things were possible.
The circus schedule of six months on, six months off ultimately brought Lake to New Orleans for a prolonged stretch of downtime. After driving alone for an entire day to make it to the city and meet up with her cohorts, Lake stopped in the French Quarter to locate her friends and was struck immediately by an overpowering sense of timelessness. It was her first visit, and just like picking up a microphone for the first time decades earlier, she instantly felt the city’s call to things that are different, slightly odd. Without meaning to, she had found her lifelong home base.
After “running away” from the circus, and employing a myriad of jobs, from building the Burning Man festival to forklift driving at cranberry harvest, Lake was searching to, once again, make music her bread and butter. In 2007, this life change found her by way of a traditional jazz outfit, complete with dancers, The Loose Marbles. This ragtag group of busking street performers originally set up camp on Royal Street in New Orleans. From there they created a residency in New York City’s Washington Square Park, the gateway to what would become Ms. Lake’s next stomping ground, Europe. Affectionately referring to this time in her life as “jazz boot camp”, she began to build her now extensive repertoire, and learned several life lessons, including, but not limited to, don’t date the band leader, Be the bandleader. A year later, she did just that, creating the Little Big Horns Jazz Band.
Now steadfastly at the helm of her own musical battleship, things moved fast and far for Ms. Lake. The year 2010 saw their debut album, Lucky Devil, and the beginning of a decade’s worth of accolades, tours, and awards. From the stages of Lincoln Center in NYC to Brazil, Canada, Denmark, The Netherlands, Italy, Russia, the U.K., and Ireland, she’s shown people to express the love of life through music and dance.
This passion, seemingly tireless energy, and expert skill has garnered much praise, from NPR’s top ten albums of 2010 to First Lady of Jazz 2013, at the Sun Valley Jazz Festival. But most importantly, back at home in New Orleans, Lake was recognized as Female Performer of the Year, three years running, at the Big Easy Awards, was named Best Female Singer in Offbeat Magazine’s Best of the Beat poll in 2013 and 2014, and in 2013 the Little Big Horns were honored with the Best of The Beat’s coveted Best Trad Band award. Along the way, Meschiya’s found the time to record, write, and produce another two albums with the Big Horns, Foolers’ Gold, and Bad Kid’s Club, as well as work in the studio as a vocalist with musicians like Alec Ounsworth of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, as well as singing for a gentleman by the name of Tom Waits. Her 2019 collaboration with Soren Siegumfeldt, This is Meschiya Lake, won the Danish Music Awards category of Best Vocal Jazz, otherwise known as the “Danish Grammy.”
Meschiya Lake has come a long way since her South Dakota Opry and traveling circus days, and she’s not done yet. In fact, far from it. With upcoming plans for an all original solo album, and more great music from the Little Big Horns, as well as other projects, far and wide, friends and fans are sure to be continually inspired and delighted.
“Meschiya Lake rocks back on her heels, lifts her chest, and opens her throat like an air raid siren to croon in a thrilling pre-microphone style that…can make you feel by turns as though you were shivering around a campfire in a railroad yard or drinking in a Budapest nightclub in 1938.
— DAN BAUM, THE NEW YORKER
A soulful voice, forged in a jazz tradition, with a heart of rock and roll, makes for a styling as complex as her hometown of New Orleans, Louisiana.
Arséne DeLay is the youngest of the world-renowned Boutté vocalists, and though she’s well known in the music community of her home base, she started paying her dues on the road.
She cut her teeth on Milwaukee’s underground hip-hop/poetry scene, collaborating with Poetree Chicago, Growing Nation, Black Elephant, & Sheree Amore, shortly after finishing her undergraduate degree at Marquette University. After heading west to Los Angeles, DeLay added the Ascona Jazz and Heritage Festival, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and the REDCAT Theatre at the Walt Disney Concert Hall under her belt before finishing her Master’s at California Institute of the Arts.
After a four-year residency with the Los Angeles-based band, Vaud and the Villains, she was feeling the call back to the Crescent City, where she released her solo debut album, Comin’ Home, (recently featured on NCIS New Orleans), and single, Fest Time. She released critically acclaimed “Blue Basso” with the Charlie Wooton Project shortly before the pandemic and records and performs with the leagues of musicians who continue to make New Orleans the premiere city for live music.