George W. Bush was president, Andy Reid & Donavan McNabb were Philly’s inseparable couple, and My Love was Justin Timberlake’s current hit. It was December 2006, and I was playing a simple brass duo gig, strolling the outlets at Rockvale Square.
That gig turned into a 12 year run of coordinating live holiday music at Rockvale, and until they were bought by Tanger, Hershey Outlets too. I composed about 70 new brass duo arrangements and put together a strong roster of brass players that would play as duos called The Holiday Horns.
I soon began the strolling, a cappella, Yuletide Voices- trios built specifically for Rockvale Square and Hershey Outlet holiday caroling. Things kept growing and expanding from there, leading to other gigs for both groups and a 12-year run of contracting and performing at Rockvale.
Unfortunately, Rockvale was recently sold to another company and we are disappointed to announce that the new owners have not renewed our contract for this season. Nothing lasts forever- not even at Christmas.
Playing music in the cold for holiday shoppers may not sound like the greatest way to spend December weekends, but we really enjoyed it and it gave me a chance to grow both as a musician and a business man.
I learned more about how to connect with people who weren’t necessarily in the mood for music. I learned that trombone slides and brass valves freeze at certain temperatures and become unplayable. I learned that heavy snow doesn’t always force stores to close early during peak holiday shopping season. I learned that Amish folks come to “Midnight Madness” sales in droves. I came to appreciate the rarity of excellent sight-singers and music readers.
The best part for me was working with my two daughters, both of whom did their first Yuletide Voices gigs as eight graders and developed into very strong singers. Now one is college and the other is in her first year in the workforce.
The Holiday Horns are still crazy busy at The Strasburg Railroad, and the Yuletide Voices have a few new gigs as well, but I admit I will miss what has become a holiday tradition- the Rockvale gigs.
Special thanks to our Rockvale contact, Deb Frisco; my main vocal crew of Dave Sheaffer, Bailey Fulginiti and Ally Fulginiti; and everybody else who was part of the action over the past 12 years.
Below are some video links and photos- a miniature Rockvale Gig Retrospective/Eulogy