String quartet highlights annual Lisman holiday concert

The 23rd annual Frederick Lisman Memorial Holiday Concert, sponsored by the Milford Arts Council, will be held in the City Hall Auditorium on Sunday, Dec. 8, at 4 p.m.

The concert was conceived to utilize the colonial-style auditorium as a venue for an intimate concert featuring a string quartet. This year will feature the Magnolia String Quartet of Connecticut, Dr. Joe Utterback, piano, Michael Jovovich, tenor, and the Foran High School Choir and Advanced Vocal Ensemble.

This year's concert, following the tradition of more than 20 years, will be a combination of classical, popular and holiday music, culminating in the traditional sing along.

The Magnolia String Quartet of Connecticut was established in 2004, playing at numerous events throughout the New England area. The quartet features Jennifer Trahan, first violin; Carole Walker, viola; Susan Jimenez, violoncello, and Jennifer Brown, second violin.

Walker operates Walker Strings Studio in Milford. With degrees from Middlebury College and the University of North Carolina, she has performed with the RI Philharmonic, the Waterbury Symphony and the Norwalk symphony.

Jennifer Trahan of Milford graduated from Ohio University and the Manhattan School of Music. She owns Ms. Jen's Violin Studio in Milford and is a sectional coach with the Greater Bridgeport Youth Symphonies.

Susan Jimenez of Fairfield received degrees in cello from the University of Cincinnati and the City College of New York. She is a cellist with the Greater Bridgeport symphony and the Waterbury symphony and teaches in the Fairfield public schools, and at the Neighborhood Music School in New Haven.

Jennifer Brown has a bachelors and masters degrees in violin performance from Wichita State University. She is a substitute section member of the Norwalk Symphony Orchestra, maintains a private studio in Fairfield County and coaches sectionals for the Norwalk Symphony.

Michael Jovovich, tenor, will sing a variety of holiday music.

A native of Philadelphia, Pa., now living in Milford, he has been a fixture on the concert circuit for many years.

His theater credit includes: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Grease, Pippin, Jacques Brel is alive and Well and Living in Paris, and Annie, among others.

Teaming with Dr. Joe Utterback, his latest CD, “Standard Time” was released in September, 2011. He has several other recordings. He is the tenor soloist at First Congregational Church in Stratford.

Jazz pianist Joe Utterback has played numerous venues around the country for more than 40 years. He has a catalog of more than 240 jazz-influenced compositions, which have received many performances in the U.S. and abroad. His works have won ASCAP awards annually since 1991.

Utterback currently teaches at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield and is in his tenth season as director of music/organist/choirmaster at the First Congregational Church in Stratford.

Also new this year is the Foran High School Freshman Choir and Advanced Vocal Ensemble, directed by Theresa Voss. The choirs have won awards in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Virginia, where they competed against choirs from across the country.

The vocal groups perform three major concerts at Foran each year, as well as at various Milford celebrations.

Their director, Voss, holds a bachelor’s degree in music education from the University of Arizona, and a master’s degree with an emphasis in choral conducting from Central Connecticut State University. She has taught music for 23 years and has performed in church and community choirs.

She is in her twelfth year teaching music for the Milford public schools, and her ninth year as vocal music director at Foran High School.