2021 saw Rob Mathes from Greenwich working with Lin Manuel Miranda and Weezer. Now her annual vacation show returns – online

GREENWICH – After a year of working with Lin Manuel Miranda and Weezer, Greenwich resident and award-winning musician Rob Mathes says his annual Christmas concert in town – again virtual this year – really gives him a warm smile.

“The story of the evils of the world resolved by innocence, peace, love, harmony, music, song of angels, good will, kings traveling everywhere to honor the lowly is a powerful story” , said Mathes. “The concert is made up of a lot of those original songs, none of which is of the variety ‘Mommy kiss with a guy in a red suit.’ Atheist, Agnostic, it doesn’t matter. Bethlehem is magical and the concept is inspiring, the theme constantly touches me.

Mathes, who tapes his show in advance, will post it for free on his YouTube channel, Rob Mathes Music, from December 22 to January 5. It’s similar to what he did last year in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Planning the concert is a kind of homecoming for Mathes, who was commissioned to write songs for churches during the holidays when he was a young man. This year, he planned a concert for all those who enjoy the holiday season and talked about taking inspiration from Hanukkah as well as Christmas.

“The holidays are all about love, hope and family, resilience, grace and kindness,” said Mathes. “It’s a very difficult time for some. That’s why hearing great musicians kick out the living funk of “Twelve Days”, turning it into a Neville Brothers / The Meters-style game, might be a good thing.

Mathes has had a busy year, working on projects involving everyone from Lin Manuel Miranda to Weezer. In 2019, he spent time working with Sting on a Broadway musical, so he quit 2019 from doing the local show.

Looking back, Mathes said he thought not attending the Greenwich event in 2019 was like canceling Christmas.

Last year Mathes presented an hour-long unplugged virtual show designed to spread holiday cheer with minimal fuss: just himself and a few members of his group, a few cameramen and his daughters and his singing nephew. backup.

“Amazingly, thousands of people across the world have watched it and judging by my email inbox and my social media posts, a lot of them loved it,” Mathes said. .

For 2021, Mathes said he was able to put everyone in Christmas attire with a full roster of musicians “all excited and ready to go.”

This year, a full choir, a six-piece brass section, a five-piece band and vocalists D-Train Williams and Vaneese Thomas are planned. Ian Cron, the former pastor of Trinity Church in Greenwich, will be traveling from Nashville to the show to read and sing.

“The audience, band members, choir, horns, Vaneese and D-Train singers – they’re ‘family’ and in some cases, they’re literally family,” Mathes said. “The level of musicality is incredibly high. Everyone in the group took my arm’s length back. Yet: 14 members of the choir are made up of my three children, my cousin’s six children, my cousins ​​themselves, and my brother and sister. My mother’s twin sister daughter Joyce Kelley, my cousin Dianne Ellis who teaches music at Greenwich Academy, leads the choir.

Mathes’ shows typically take place at the nearby Purchase College Performing Arts Center, in front of a sold-out audience. The pandemic has closed the center – which is slated to reopen for performances in 2022 – and ended a live performance.

“Next year My Prayer is Live Live Live Live at the SUNY Purchase Pepsico Theater for three shows, Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the weekend before Christmas,” Mathes said. “From my mouth to the ears of God.

“COVID has changed all of our lives. In some cases for the good. I think we are all very aware of our mortality and, for many of us, how thankful we have to be, ”he said. “On the flip side, for a ton of people it has resulted in incredible hardship, job losses, increased anxiety and the death of loved ones. I hope that making this year’s concert available at home during the holidays will be a blessed thing ”,

The concert will benefit Fairfield County Food Rescue US, a nonprofit that uses proprietary online technology and apps as a platform for volunteer food rescuers to directly transfer surplus food from local businesses to agencies. social services that feed food insecure people. According to Mathes, he provided more than 26 million meals for people in the community while keeping more than 35 million pounds of excess food out of landfills.

Mathes will encourage donations to the nonprofit organization through the show. Anyone who donates will receive a link to last year’s concert so people can see both if they missed one – or want a double treat.

“I’m hearing more and more about food insecurity right here, in our own community, and I wanted to do something about it,” Mathes said. “And the fact that their work helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions, prevent food from ending up in landfills and being good for the environment has been a big factor for me to want to support the organization. “

More information on the show is available on www.robmathes.com as well as on Mathes’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

[email protected]

Elizabeth J. Harless