Christmas with Mr. Grump

MIDDLEBURY Associate Prof. Dr. Peter Hamlin of Middlebury College is not your run-of-the-mill virtuoso. When not teaching music theory, electronic music, or composition all while juggling the chairmanship of the colleges busy music department Hamlin is off somewhere writing music or practicing a bevy of instruments that sport either keyboards, semiconductors, or horns. At long last, this multi-talented Middlebury composer will be showcased around the state with his 1983 classic Christmas with Mr. Grump. Hamlins Mr. Grump will be a big part of the annual VSO Holiday Pops concert tour a special event which will celebrate the season this weekend with the VSO Chorus in a program entitled Rejoice! This years VSO holiday special, with its spotlight on Hamlin, also features conductors Robert De Cormier and Dawn Willis and the VSO debut of soprano Indra Thomas. Hamlins heartwarming, humorous Christmas masterpiece is somewhat reminiscent of Peter and the Wolf in feeling. But what makes this years VSO event so special is that Mr. Grump will be narrated by the composer. Without giving away too much of Christmas with Mr. Grump, suffice it to say that the tiny City of Readlyn, Iowa, inspired this loveable holiday entertainment. Readlyn, atypical Midwestern farming burg, sports Americas oddest roadside welcome sign: Welcome to Readlyn: 857 friendly peopleand one Grump. Who is the one Grump of readlyn? Town officials wont tell. Will Hamlin? Mmm... Thus spake Hamlins musical fantasy. Hamlin is our most versatile composer; he has written numerous works for orchestra, band, choir, chamber ensembles, solo instruments, solo voice, music theater, and electronic media. He received his B.A. degree in music at Middlebury in 1973 where he studied composition with George Todd. He was a producer and popular host at KPBS-FM in San Diego, Calif.. He also hosted a classical music program on KUNI-FM in Cedar Falls, Iowa. (The composer also served as fine arts host on Iowa Public Television. ) He received masters degree in composition at the University of Northern Iowa, studying there with Peter Michaelides. His PhD is from the Eastman School of Music where he studied composition with Joseph Schwantner and Samuel Adler. He taught at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., and was appointed to the Middlebury faculty in 2004. So what does a virtuoso do in his spare time? I am taking clarinet lessons, Hamlin said. Performances of Hamlins Christmas with Mr. Grump very appropriate for children are Friday, Dec. 12, 7:30 p.m. at the Barre Opera House, Saturday, Dec. 13, 7:30 p.m. at the Flynn Center in Burlington, and Sunday, Dec. 14, 3 p.m. at the Paramount Theatre, Rutland.

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