The Florentine spreads festive cheer this season


By Kelly Schlicht, Development Manager

‘Tis the season when, as legend has it, Santa is readying his workshop in the North Pole for holiday joys. Here in Riverwest, the Florentine Opera’s Studio Artists and Chorusmaster Scott Stewart are working just as hard to prepare musical gifts for all of Milwaukee this season.

“We actually prepare seven different programs to suit the various locations where we perform,” said Stewart, who said this is one of the busiest times of the year for the Studio Artists.

Stewart said he takes the individual performers’ strengths and preferences in account when planning the extensive repertoire for this season.

“The repertoire is more personal. It’s a collective labor of love,” Stewart described the process. “The Studio Artists get to choose their favorite holiday tunes, and then it’s just a matter of finding the right arrangement.”

Stewart, along with pianist Ruben Piirainen, arrange a portion of the songs.

“We come up with songs that people want to hear in interesting arrangements that are relevant to the contemporary scene,” said Stewart.

Stewart said he understands how music, whether sacred or secular, holds a special place in many people’s hearts at this time of year, and he takes that into account when deciding which songs for the Studio Artists to perform.

“You have to spark a memory within everyone you can,” he said.

Starting the first weekend of December, the Florentine Studio Artists can be found in a variety of venues across Southeast Wisconsin, including two free performances at different Colectivo Coffee locations on Saturday, December 2nd.

“This is a cheery way to spend a December Saturday in our cafes, with coffee, cocoa, and carols! Our Florentine Opera holiday performances have become a favorite annual tradition for customers and co-workers alike,” said Ramie Camarena, Events and Communications Manager for Colectivo Coffee.

This time of year, the Florentine also spends time performing for dementia patients at the Alzheimer’s Association SPARK! Program concerts at the Milwaukee Public Museum. The Florentine also visits St. John’s on the Lake to spread holiday cheer to its residents, while performing additional concerts at the University Club of Milwaukee and private donor events.

The Studio Artist quartet can also be heard in the Home for the Holidays @ the Center Concerts on December 8, 9, 16 and 17, at the Wayne and Kristine Lueders Florentine Opera Center in Riverwest. While Stewart wouldn’t completely divulge the set list, he did say the Studio Artists would be expanding beyond their usual classical technique, showing versatility across genres.

“If you want to hear vocal music this time of the year, you’re hearing four of the best voices. We take pride in giving our audiences the best of the best,” said Stewart.

Tickets are going fast for Home for the Holidays! Call 414-291-5700 ext 224 today to reserve your seat.

You can see the Florentine Opera Studio Artists for free on Saturday, December 2 at 10:30 am (Humboldt Avenue location) and 1:00 pm (Mequon location).

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