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
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
“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.