Arts Around Town

Arts Around Town: Duo concert at Yocum to feature Berks jazz artist Nathan Bellott

Berks County native and alto saxophonist Nathan Bellott is coming home for the holidays, and he's bringing a bagful of original jazz goodies. Along with close friend and pianist Dana Malseptic, Bellott will be part of a duo concert on Dec. 27, at 7 p.m., at the Yocum Institute for Arts Education, 1100 Belmont Ave., Wyomissing.

Bellott, 21, who hails from Reading, and Malseptic, 22, from Maine, met while attending SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Music and played together on many occasions. Bellott currently resides in Brooklyn and stays in tune with the Big Apple's jazz scene. He said he's looking forward to the opportunity of performing in a concert format. He credits fellow musician Chris Heslop for arranging the event at Yocum.

"I'm very excited to be presenting my own work in my own home town," said Bellott, no stranger to the jazz scene in the greater Berks area. As a student in the Governor Mifflin School District, he started playing the saxophone in the jazz band in seventh grade. He played with the Berks High School All-Star Jazz Band before heading to SUNY. He's now in his senior year at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City and hopes to pursue graduate studies.

This past April, Bellott put together a group to host a jam session with Berks alumni as part of the "Get JazzED" series at the annual Boscov's Berks Jazz Fest. He's also taught saxophone and creative classes at the Reading Summer Music Institute. He was part of a collective jazz CD project in Pittsburgh titled "Elevations," released in March.

Malseptic, a composer and improviser, will be visiting Berks County for the first time for the duo concert. He began piano studies at age 7, and started focusing on jazz at 15. He studied with Hal Galper at Purchase College and began writing chamber music and studying composition. A SUNY graduate, he currently resides in Brooklyn and composes and performs in a variety of contexts.

The duo concert has a suggested donation of $10.

For further info:      



The Berks Ballet Theatre's presentation of "The Nutcracker" will be held this weekend at the Scottish Rite Cathedral, 301 S. 7th St., Reading. Performances are Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m., with live music by the Reading Symphony Orchestra.

The production is in collaboration with the Reading Symphony Orchestra and the Berks Classical Children's Chorus.

For further info:


Country Gate Players present "The Wizard of Oz" beginning Saturday at 8 p.m., through Dec. 29, at the playhouse, 114 Greenwich St., Belvidere, N.J.

The production, adapted from the 1939 MGM film screenplay and based on the novel by L. Frank Baum, features the music and lyrics of Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg.

Under the direction of Gina Scurato, who also will portray the Wicked Witch of the West, the cast includes: Paige Hann of Harmony, NJ, as Dorothy Gale; Maria Stein of Easton as the Scarecrow; Hugh Halsey IV of East Stroudsburg as the Tin Man; Gavin Neese of Whitehall as the Cowardly Lion; Marisa Delmore of Phillipsburg, NJ, as Glinda the Good Witch, and Donna Bellfy of Phillipsburg as the wonderful Wizard of The Emerald City.

Musical director is Tierney Jory of Bangor; choreographer is Katie Haugaard of Washington, NJ.

For further info:


Author and Attorney Malcolm J. Gross will discuss and sign his new book, "Two Mayors and a Lawyer: The Gross Family in Allentown History," on Saturday at 1 p.m., at the Lehigh Valley Heritage Museum, 432 W. Walnut St., Allentown.

The book, published by the museum, gives a behind-the-scenes political portrait and reveals the political culture of two influential mayors at the center of power as it details the politics of a father and his son.

Malcolm W. (Mal) Gross, grandfather of the book's author, served as mayor from 1920 until 1932, regaining power again in 1936 until 1940. In 1960, son John T. "Jack" Gross, father of the book's author, was city mayor for five years before dying unexpectedly in office at the age of 55.

Author Malcolm J. Gross is a partner in the law firm of Gross McGinley, LLP. He has presented scholarly lectures on such topics as "The Trial of John Brown" and "Last Step Toward Civil War in America" at colleges, and historical and civic groups in the Lehigh Valley.

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Due to the Dec. 14 snowstorm, the Camerata Singers' annual Christmas concert, "Magnificat – Music for an Evensong," has been rescheduled for Sunday at 3:30 p.m., at First Presbyterian Church, Allentown. Soloist is soprano Leslie Johnson; organist is John Richardson. Conductor is Allan Birney.      



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