The Atlanta Freedom Bands will kick off their 20th performance season Dec. 15 with their annual holiday concert, this year titled “Holiday Fantasy,” to be held at North Decatur Presbyterian Church. Tickets to the event are $10 for general admission and $5 for students and senior citizens.
Musicians from both the Atlanta Freedom Bands Concert Band and the MetroGnomes Stage Band will perform.
The concert will feature festive classics and a few surprises, according to Atlanta Freedom Bands President Cliff Norris. Music from “A Nightmare Before Christmas,” “The Nutcracker” and even a meeting between Saint Nick and super-spy James Bond are in the works.
“The holiday season always brings festive music and carols,” Norris says. “This year, we wanted to explore some of the more fantastical elements that make the holidays such a magical time.”
“We also have a swing-along sing-along so the audience can join in the fun,” he adds.
WSB Radio’s Chris Chandler hosts the event.
“With a new conductor, a new host and 10 new band members on the stage, we should be set for quite an evening,” Norris says.
New music director to lead AFB
The concert will also feature the debut of the group’s new music director, Dr. Kathleen Fallin.
Fallin recently completed her Ph.D. in Music Education from the University of Georgia after spending more than 20 years in the United States Army Bands and several years as a music teacher in public schools in Augusta.
And as a transgender woman, Fallin is one of the few trans conductors in the country, Norris notes.
“We feel very privileged to have her as our conductor and look forward to many great concerts and programs in the coming years,” he says.
Fallin has been performing with the group for a few years.
“I’ve played with the group for several years, but it is my first conducting,” she told GA Voice by phone this week.
Fallin said she used to drive up from Augusta for practices and performances but has recently moved to Atlanta with her partner to finish her doctoral work.
Under her leadership, Fallin hopes to continue a growing trend for the band.
“The group is growing, she said. “I’ve noticed a dramatic growth and change in ability in the group. I think we’ve added about 12 members this Fall. The jazz band I started working with a few months ago went from a group to 8 to a full size jazz band of about 20 people.”
As the group’s first transgender conductor, Fallin said she knew she was different from an early age.
“I knew something was up when I was around 10 or 12 years old,” she said. “But, you know, I’m 58 now and in the 60’s it really wasn’t something that was talked about. There really weren’t that many people that came out as trans back then. The most famous one from that time would have been someone like Christine Jorgensen.”
“I’m retired Army. I was a musician in the Army for 20 years and retired as a First Sargent – all the time dealing with this issue. Not long after retirement I started seeing a therapist and about it and five years ago I decided I was going to transition.”
Also on tap in the bands’ 20th season is the 2013 Lesbian & Gay Band Association conference, which will be held in Atlanta during the 2013 Atlanta Pride festival.
“Already, musicians from 22 different LGBT bands are registered for the event,” Norris says. “We expect to welcome over 200 performers for a huge concert event and the largest-ever marching unit in the Atlanta Pride Parade.”
Top photo: Atlanta Freedom Bands’ Dec. 15 concert features the debut of new Music Director Kathleen Fallin. (Courtesy photos)