Gannon University’s Erie Chamber Orchestra Welcomes Guest Artist

Posted: December 4, 2015

Steven Stull, the guest artist for Saturday's 7:30 p.m. Erie Chamber Orchestra concert at Cathedral Prep Auditorium, is a serious opera singer with credits that range from Cooperstown, New York's innovative Glimmerglass Opera to Kyrgyz Opera on the steppes of Central Asia.

But he's not a solemn kind of opera singer. He's appeared as the Big Bad Wolf in Grant Cooper's spoofy hip-hop/Sondheim mashup, "Boyz in the Wood," and his website is operacowpokes.com (it's well worth a visit).

In college, the Ithaca, New York-based baritone was a regular in productions of both opera and musical theater. "I was told to focus on one or the other, and I said, no, I'm going to do it all." And Stull has, with roles that range from Don Quixote in a setting by the Baroque composer Telemann, to Curly in "Oklahoma."

It shouldn't be a surprise that Stull relishes the chance to perform Albert Hague's "The Grinch Medley" at the ECO's annual holiday show, guest conducted by Bradley Thachuk.

"It follows the tunes from the TV show, so it's really familiar, a souped-up version of what we remember," he said. "I love to do it because I get to narrate and sing, while I get to portray characters, too. And what a fun thing it is to portray the Grinch and his transformation."

Stull said that despite the familiarity of the music, it's challenging to play. "Orchestra members like that. The arrangements used at most holiday concerts are not all that interesting."

That shouldn't be a problem at Saturday's concert, which will also feature charming but relatively unfamiliar music from the 1982 animated feature "The Snowman."

And even Leroy Anderson's evergreen "Sleigh Ride, a staple of holiday concerts led by founder Bruce Morton Wright, is no piece of cake.

Of course, holiday concerts are all about much-loved music and the ECO, with longtime collaborators the Cathedral of Saint Paul's Children's Choir, will set them out like so many colorful Christmas cookies.

The holiday medleys will bookend the performance, a shrewd programming choice that would melt even the Grinch's cold heart