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By MARK EVANS
STE. GENEVIEVE HERALD
Music has always been an important part of the Ste. Genevieve Holiday Christmas Festival. The 39th edition of the festival, which will be Dec. 2-3, is no exception.
“I think it’s a spectacular lineup,” Annette Rolfe, executive director of the festival, said. “We are so fortunate these people have loyalty to us to come back almost every year.”
This year, one of those loyal musicians is bringing another talented and highly-acclaimed musician with him.
Dr. Isaac Laussel, who has led the guitar program at the SIU-Carbondale School of Music since 2012, “a genius” in Rolfe’s words,
“He’s magnificent,” Rolfe said.
Laussel is the founder of the SIU International Guitar Festival and teaches every summer at Festival Suoni D’Abruzzo, in the Abruzzo region of Italy.
“He’s one of the most brilliant musicians I’ve ever encountered,” Rolfe said. “I really think he is just an extraordinary man. I mean, he loves our community, too. He always will say he looks forward to coming back to his friends at St. Genevieve.”
This year he brings his equally talented wife, world-class viola performer Dr. Rosanna Cauti.
A graduate of Florida State University (D.M.), Southern Illinois University (M.M.), Pescara Conservatory in Italy (A.D. and B.M.), Lugano Conservatory in Switzerland, Accademia Internazionale di Musica di Roma and at the Accademia del Garda in Italy, Cauti enjoys a musical career that spans through Europe, Latin America, United States.
She teaches and conducts both orchestras at SIU-Carbondale.
She will be leading the SIU String Quartet, which will perform at Holy Cross Lutheran Church and the Guibourd-Valle House.
Laussel, who Rolfe said has “upped his game,” will perform with the Isaac Laussel Trio. It also includes Dr. Richard Kelley, associate professor of saxophone at SIU, and Chester, Ill. resident Jim Beers, a noted drummer and drum teacher.
Laussel will also play the lute during an Art Guild open house.
The rest of the musical lineup is also impressive.
The weekend, in fact, will cover more than 700 years of holiday-themed music from Renaissance to 21st Century jazz.
The Southeast Missouri State University Chamber Choir also returns, along with the highly popular SEMO Steel Drum Band.
Renowned Celtic artist and SEMO instructor Chadie Fruehwald will give a harp solo featuring Classical, Celtic and Christmas music at the Church of Ste. Genevieve.
Meanwhile, renowned saxophonist Gerry Huggins will perform contemporary and smooth jazz and holiday music.
Matt Palisch, professor of organ at SEMO. He will perform on the pipe organ at the Church of Ste. Genevieve. He will do 19th, and 20th century classical music and Christmas tunes.
Adele Martin and Bluesette return with authentic French café music, jazz, soul and Christmas tunes at Music Art Love (137 N. Main), while Academy Hill will perform alternative country music at the sane venue.
Top-notch local talent will also be featured.
Stormy Bennett will have an acoustic guitar concert, accompanied by his son, Eric Bennett, while Chad Steven Stafford will be performing in front of the Orris, doing his contemporary you know pop music and Christmas tunes mostly Christmas tunes and contemporary pop.
Additionally, Vernon Flieg will be doing a traditional country at the Lions Park.
“We’re very fortunate to have that magnificent talent that is in our town, regionally and locally,” Rolfe said.
Upcoming articles will look at Randy Ruzicka, grand marshal of the Christmas parade, the return of Le Réveillon at the Felix Valle State Historic Site, as well as a detailed look at the festival schedule.