Empty Stocking Fund Benefit Concert

Community Calendar

On Sunday, Dec. 15, Performance Music at The University of Scranton will be doing its part to put locals in the holiday spirit at its annual Empty Stocking Fund Benefit Concert.

Set for 7:30 p.m. in the Houlihan-McLean Center, Mulberry Street and Jefferson Avenue, the concert will feature a performance by popular local big band ensemble Ken McGraw with Brass and Ivory.

The event is open to the public, with attendees asked to bring either a new and unwrapped toy, new toiletry items (toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, comb/brush, etc.) or a monetary donation. All donated items will benefit local children and families in need this holiday season and will be distributed by the University’s Center for Service and Social Justice.

This year’s event falls on a date that conflicts with the University’s academic calendar, so many student members of Performance Music ensembles will already be back in their hometowns on holiday break. Performance Music Conductor and Director Cheryl Y. Boga enlisted McGraw and Brass and Ivory to fill the void.

Fans of the concert can expect the usual assortment of classic Christmas tunes, as well as the traditional audience caroling session at the end of the evening.

“It’s going to be great, Kenny and the band are especially looking forward to the singalong portion of the program,” Boga said. 

The concert’s origins go back to 1999, when Boga’s friend, Alan Drake, the former chairman of the music department at Georgia’s Augusta State University, told her about a benefit Christmas concert held there. When Boga asked Drake if he would mind if she brought the idea back to Scranton, he responded, “Absolutely not.”

For that inaugural year, she and Drake decided to wage a friendly competition to see which concert could raise the most money. The rest is history.

No doubt, the concert’s charitable mission lends it a special resonance, and Boga said it’s especially moving to see the donated items out on display the night of the concert.

And, of course, the concert never fails to produce yuletide cheer in rich abundance. By the end of the show, Boga said, “You can really see people starting to feel the Christmas spirit.”

For more information on the Empty Stocking Fund Benefit Concert, call 570-941-7624, email music@scranton.edu or visit scranton.edu/music.

(Information from Stan Zygmunt)

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