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CONTRIBUTED IMAGE“A Lehigh Valley Christmas In Concert,” 7 p.m. Nov. 29, Miller Symphony Hall, Allentown CONTRIBUTED IMAGE“A Lehigh Valley Christmas In Concert,” 7 p.m. Nov. 29, Miller Symphony Hall, Allentown

‘LV Christmas In Concert’ returns to Symphony Hall

Wednesday, November 25, 2015 by DEB BOYLANSpecial to The Press in Focus

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for “A Lehigh Valley Christmas In Concert.”

The highly-anticipated annual performance now in its 19th installment features a cornucopia of the area’s top musical talent performing interpretations of holiday favorites, 7 p.m. Nov. 29, Miller Symphony Hall, Allentown.

The three-hour concert, presented by the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, brings to the stage 18 acts each performing two Christmas songs of their choosing and then gathering together on stage for a star-studded finale.

The holiday tradition was the brainchild of Allentown musician Mike Krisukas and Miriam Huertas; senior vice president, Allentown Initiatives, Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce. The Allentown duo, who is also husband and wife, brought their idea for a “cool holiday compilation” to life in 1996.

“We thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to gather all kinds of really great Lehigh Valley musicians doing a multi-genre holiday event?’” says Huertas. “Mike and I both love Christmas so that’s really how it started and it just took off from there.”

The event began as an invitation-only concert at the former J.I. Rodale Theatre, Allentown, and moved on to Civic Theatre of Allentown for many years before finding its home at Miller Symphony Hall.

“In 2006, we did our last concert at Civic,” says Huertas. “We thought we bid farewell to the entire event. Everywhere we went people were asking us about it and if we were ever going to consider doing it again. We actually at the time did not think we would.”

Huertas began working for the Chamber in 2007 and the concert found new life, this time as a Chamber-hosted event. The concert has been a Chamber event held at Miller Symphony Hall since 2008.

Many of the musicians return to perform year after year. Jake Kaligis is one of several who have performed in multiple years. This year’s concert will play host to a reunion of the Jake Kaligis Band.

The set list for the evening is entirely up to the musicians. “Everyone has the flexibility to do whatever song they want to do. We just keep tally so that we don’t have duplicates throughout the evening,” explains Huertas.

In order to keep the show fresh each year, Huertas and Krisukas make it a point to add new acts to the lineup.

“That is something we feel is an important thing to do. So, along with many of the local favorites who are part of this event year after year, we have four new acts that we are introducing to the stage this time around.”

The four additions to the bill are: Caribbean Steel Rhythms; a steel drum band; Sweet Adelines, a female barbershop quartet style vocal group; Lilli & Winston, an acoustic world music duo performing songs in English and Spanish, and Charlie Brown, a popular R&B artist performing alongside the BC Combo.

The evening is hosted by four local public figures as emcees. Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski will kick off the evening, followed by State Rep. Peter Schreyer (D-22) and Lehigh University Art Professor Berrisford Boothe. WDIY radio host Geoff Chambers will close out the event.

“It’s always fun. It’s multi-genre. It’s very fast-paced. The night flows very quickly. And it’s really entertaining,” says Huertas.