Weekender

Pianist Christine Smith shares delight that is Vince Guaraldi Trio’s holiday soundtrack

Christine Smith will lead a performance of “Vince Guaraldi Trio’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”
Christine Smith will lead a performance of “Vince Guaraldi Trio’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Photo provided

As the State Theatre prepares to present Fuse Productions’ live-action Charlie Brown special, the perfect complement awaits local residents in the form of holiday musical entertainment with “A Charlie Brown Christmas: The Music of Vince Guaraldi,” featuring local musician Christine Smith on piano.

The group will perform the Vince Guaraldi Trio’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas” album in its entirety. The soundtrack includes traditional songs such as “Hark, The Herald Angels Sing” and “What Child Is This,” contemporary Christmas classics such as “The Christmas Song” and “O Tannenbaum,” and the Guaraldi compositions “Christmas Time Is Here,” “Linus and Lucy” and “Skating.”

Smith has toured internationally and recorded with artists like Crash Test Dummies, Ryan Adams and Jesse Malin. For almost 10 years, Smith has been working as keyboardist/vocalist in the rock band Marah with David Bielanko, whom she moved with to central Pennsylvania from Brooklyn, N.Y., six years ago. In February, the band released “Marah Presents Mountain Minstrelsy” to great acclaim. The album, featuring songs based on the 100-year-old lyrics in folklorist Henry Shoemaker’s book, “Mountain Minstrelsy of Pennsylvania,” also made roots-music website No Depression’s top 10 albums of 2014.

Smith said she was inspired to do the Christmas show from a drummer friend in Nashville, Tenn., named Martin Lynds, part of a trio called The Ornaments, which performs the Guaraldi album every Christmas.

Joining Smith will be fantastic local players Bill Stetz on upright bass and Gary Gyekis on drums, and special guests The Three Kitties, including Gus Tritsch, age 11, Huck Tritsch, 8, and Nettie Vernon, 11.

“We’re very excited to have our friends singing with us,” she said. “These kids are super-talented, great harmonizers, and they sound just like the Guaraldi record.”

“As a touring musician it’s very nice to be able to stick close to home around the holidays and do a special show like this with your friends,” Smith said. “So we tried it out ourselves last year in Millheim with this lineup and it went really well. The music seems to make people very happy, adults and kids alike.”

Smith said she didn’t grow up listening to the Guaraldi record and only discovered it a decade ago, but like so many others, she remembers the music from watching the holiday TV special every year as a child.

“I mostly remember the mood it put me in, the way it felt,” she said. “The music gets to me in all different ways now, puts me in touch with Christmases past and present. It’s comforting, inspiring, nostalgic and fun.”

“I hope folks will immerse themselves in the holiday and community spirit, and simply relax and enjoy this beautiful music.”

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