Walter Noona Trio returns for holiday program

Published 11:22 am Friday, December 4, 2015

The Walter Noona Trio will herald holiday cheer this Sunday afternoon for the next in the series of programs offered by the Franklin-Southampton Concert Association.

“’The Walter Noona Trio Presents an International Christmas’ will be the theme,” said Noona, speaking from Norfolk Academy, where he was giving a lesson at the time of the interview.

The trio, which he organized in 1961, is a familiar guest to regular attendees, having performed for the organization since the mid-1990s. More recently the members played for local audiences in March 2014, Broadway tunes and romantic songs were the theme then. But this show will be a first for the trio.

He remembered once when association president Nancy Rowe called asking the trio back yet again. Noona said they had played everything they knew

“Well, play it again,” she reportedly said.

This time, though, the three players will bring something new.

“We’ve never done a Christmas program before,” said the Virginia Beach resident.

Still having fun performing with the pianist are electric bassist Gregg Hanson, and drummer Ralph Copley. Both had also been with Noona since the early 1990s.

For the first half of the program, the audience can expect to hear songs such as “Joy to the World,” “Silent Night,” “Pat-a-Pan,” and “Linus and Lucy,” which originated in England, Germany, France and America, respectively. Others will include “Coventry Carol,” “O Holy Night,” “Good King Wenceslas,” “What Child is This?” “We Three Kings” and “Little Drummer Boy.”

But each will be done in much different manner than usually played or sung.

“We don’t just play “Joy to the World” or “Good King Wenceslas,” Noona said. “We do things with it.”

Following an intermission, the second half will be what he called pop American: “Winter Wonderland,” “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas,” a medley of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” “Home for the Holidays” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

“The Christmas Song,” “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen,” “White Christmas” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” are the others.

Noona again stressed that the trio will do its own arrangements of the songs. Don’t be surprised by what he described as a “jazzy — very jazzy” rendition of “We Three Kings,” for example.

He said the trio’s looking forward to the visit.

“We’re very fortunate,” said Noona, who was at one time the conductor/director of the Virginia Beach Pops Orchestra.

The program begins at 3:30 p.m. and will be in the auditorium at Southampton High School, 23350 Southampton Parkway, Courtland. Tickets at the door cost $30 per adult and $10 for students.

Call Rowe at 653-2498 or Bill Vick at 653-2892 for more information.