For musical couple, Christmas is time to say goodbye

December 6, 2018

Some have called them “Mr. and Mrs. Merced Music,” but their students call them “Professor Nelson” and “Ms. Patrice.”

Curtis Nelson and Patrice Stribling Nelson are getting ready to bid farewell to Merced as they move to the east coast at the end of the spring 2019 semester.

But before they go, they’re inviting the Merced community to join them for a final musical farewell.

“A Christmas Cabaret with Nelson & Nelson” will be presented at the Merced Multicultural Arts Center (MAC) on Friday, Dec. 14 and Sunday, Dec. 16. The performance will be the fourth cabaret the duo have brought to Merced audiences in the past 12 years, including both Christmas and Valentine’s Day concerts.

“We want to take an opportunity to share with Merced one last musical night,” says Curtis, who came to Merced to teach music at the college in August of 1997.

Through twenty-two years, Nelson has conducted hundreds of singers in nearly 100 choral concerts at Merced College, performed several lead roles at Playhouse Merced, including Jekyll & Hyde, and Chess, and performed with the Merced Symphony, the Merced Pops Orchestra, and the Music of Merced Festival. In the area, he’s performed numerous musical lead roles with the Modesto Performing Arts and the CSU Stanislaus theater department.

“I’ve been so blessed to be able to share the stage with some of Merced’s most talented musicians and singers” says Nelson. “To be able to sing with such incredible voices as Sharon Graham, Jenni Samuelson, Lorri Walsh, Nancy O’Bryan, and Eric Bocks is a wonderful set of memories. I’ll always remember those concerts and performances.”

Just this past May, Curtis Nelson was awarded the inaugural “Excellence in Arts Award for Music,” recognizing his contributions to the Merced area.

“But I’m most thankful that Patrice came back to Merced and that we joined our musical and life paths here,” said Nelson.

Patrice Stribling Nelson, daughter of Merced long-time musician Lorraine Murphy, returned to Merced in 2005 and immediately became an integral part of the musical fabric, accompanying and teaching at Merced College and founding the Musikgarten Program and the Merced Youth Choir.

Patrice, a Merced native, left Merced in 1978 with her young family to pursue her education and career. Having completed a Master’s in music degree at Smith College, and continued doctoral studies in music & theatre at the University of Memphis, she performed as guest soloist with several symphony orchestras across the United States, including appearances with the Mariposa Symphony Orchestra, the Merced Pops, and five appearances with the Merced Symphony.

As a concert pianist, she was selected by the Carnegie Foundation to participate in a seminar with Alfred Brendel at Carnegie Hall, was an artist-in-residence in the Piano Institute at Rutgers University, and toured the United States. Patrice has served on the music and theatre faculties and administrations of numerous colleges nad universities including Lewis and Clark College and Southern Illinois University. She has also served as music director for several theatre companies including Playhouse on the Square in Memphis, Southern Illinois University, CSU Stanislaus, Memphis Black Repertory Theatre, and several productions at Playhouse Merced where she also currently serves on their Board of Directors.

“It’s going to be so difficult to leave Merced,” the duo admits, “not only do we have so many dear friends here, but this is where we met and where we’ve had so many great musical experiences together.”

In their “Christmas Cabaret,” Nelson and Nelson will be joined on stage by Dr. Don Carter on standup bass, and Donald McKeague on drums, two of the artists who have played with them in many concerts at Merced College.

“We’re hoping that people will come, take a break from all the activity, relax with a beverage, and listen to some wonderful music of the season — and allow us to give a musical goodbye.”

“A Christmas Cabaret with Nelson & Nelson” will be presented Friday, Dec. 14, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 16, at 3 p.m. at the Merced Multicultural Arts Center. Ticket prices are $14 in advance and $16 at the door. Proceeds from the event will be, in part, a fund-raiser for both Playhouse Merced and the Multicultural Arts Center. Tickets can be purchased at the MAC, 645 Main St. Merced, 388-1090.

Call (209) 383-0433
or (209) 358-5311

© 2018 Merced County Times. All Rights Reserved. Powered by  Imedia West