ORLANDO—Travel with Heather Thorn and her Vivacity band on Saturday, December 10 (2022) as they transport audiences away from the holiday bustle for just a bit with stops at “Christmas Island,” a la Ella Fitzgerald, and other Yuletide classics that will fill hearts of all ages with Christmas joy. The annual Vivacity Christmas concerts at the Timucua Arts Foundation in Orlando will again feature Adrian Cunningham, the award-winning vocalist and jazz musician. Cunningham will lead the Gospel hymn, “Go Tell It On the Mountain,” among other classics. The performances will include a new arrangement for “Christmas Island” as well as a piano solo by Per Danielsson and a beautiful rendition of “O Holy Night,” by regular Vivacity vocalist Krissy Vavrek. Vavrek’s daughter, Lily, will offer some pop flair to the early show with “Christmas, Why Can’t I Find You,” from “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” As Vivacity’s founder and director, Thorn is Central Florida’s own world-renowned xylophonist. She has taught percussion to hundreds of young people in Central Florida, and she was a featured guest soloist along with the Vivacity band for the Orlando Philharmonic Holiday Pops concerts in 2021.Thorn said the performances attracted great audiences with arrangements by Michael Andrew and Vivacity founding member Dave Mackenzie. The Holiday Pops setlist included timeless Christmas classics as well as a “breathtaking” rendition of Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust,” she said.
Thorn has performed at well-respected jazz venues including the New Orleans Jazz Museum and as the headline act for Brazil’s Festival I Love Jazz this year and previously in 2019. Locally, Heather regularly appears at the Blue Bamboo Center for the Arts in Winter Park, Timucua, the Sea World Christmas Celebration, Suncoast Jazz Festival, New Smyrna Beach Jazz Festival, and with the Walt Disney Orchestra.
Cunningham joins Thorn for the annual Christmas concerts. He brings his fluent command of the saxophones, clarinet, and flute. He is originally from Sydney, Australia, and is now based in New York, where he enjoys a reputation as one of the finest multi-instrumentalists in jazz.
He most recent album, “Swinging the Spirituals,” was released in February. He has also recorded with jazz luminaries Jeff Hamilton, John Clayton and Ted Rosenthal. Another album, titled, “Jazz Speak” (Arbors), broke the top 20 in the U.S. national JazzWeek charts.
Cunningham performs with Wycliffe Gordon and his International All Stars, and from 2014-2017, he led the saxophone section with the Grammy-award winning Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks, a 1920s-swing orchestra in New York City. Cunningham has been called “indispensable” to New York jazz.
Rounding out the band for A Vivacity Christmas is Paul Parker on drums. He has performed with Michael Andrew, Patrick Moraz and the Bill Allred Classic Jazz Band. He is also a member of the Grand Floridian Society Orchestra. On piano will be Vivacity mainstay Danielsson. A native of Sweden, Danielsson is associate professor of jazz piano at the University of Central Florida. Vivacity regular Vavrek, who sang with Thorn and the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra at the Holiday Pops concerts, lends her voice to the annual Christmas performances. Trumpet player John Depaola, a regular with the band who has performed with Ray Charles and Sammy Davis Jr., will also take the Timucua stage at 2000 S. Summerlin Ave., Orlando. The concerts begin at 4 and 7 p.m. Some VIP tickets remain and include a festive holiday beverage and priority seating.
For tickets to the Christmas concerts, go to the band’s social media pages or to Eventbrite.com. There are in-person and live stream options. To learn more about Vivacity Music and the band’s albums—including last year’s Christmas recording—search @vivacitymusic on Instagram and Facebook, or visit vivacitymusic.com.