Because of the pandemic, it seemed impossible for Rob Mathes to hold his annual holiday this year. The concert also took a hiatus in 2019 so that Mathes could work with Sting on his musical The Last Ship. Mathes and a generous team have worked to make sure that the 26th concert will take place this December.
“The thought of yet another gap year for our annual Holiday concert in 2020 was depressing, but seemingly unavoidable,” said Mathes in a recent press release. “Then a few angels in the form of Deborah and Chuck Royce and Jane and Mike Peak arrived just in time. They agreed to put up some small honorariums for the musicians and crew so we could perform and film a concert with no audience and then stream it for free.” Everyone involved will practice social distancing to ensure safety.
The concert will be taped at the First Congressional Church of Old Greenwich in Connecticut and hosted by Reverend Patrick Collins and Minister of Music Craig Scott Symons. Accompanied by a choir of Saints & Friends, Mathes and his band will play an hour of free music available for anyone.
The band will have Shawn Pelton on Percussion, Zev Katz on Acoustic Bass, Andy Snitzer on Tenor Sax, and Vaneese Thomas and James “D-Train” Williams on vocals. The hour-long show of audience favorites will hopefully bring Christmas cheer to everyone in this pandemic. Emmy winner Bob Conover will film and Grammy winner Rory Young will record and mix the concert.
With great political unrest and a national health crisis, with it being very difficult, if not downright dangerous, to get in a room with family and friends this season, a love offering of music is being made possible!Rob Mathes
The concert will air at 8PM on Wednesday, December 23 on Mathes’ YouTube channel. If you can’t make it then, the concert will be up online until New Year’s Day. It is free, but Mathes encourages audiences to donate to one of his favorite charities: Through the Eyes of Children.
The charity, which Mathes has been supporting since 2003, is a nonprofit that teaches photography to vulnerable children. It allows these children not only to learn about art and photography, but to document their own lives and share their voices.
Despite the pandemic’s difficulty, his Holiday Concert is not Mathes’ first project of this year. He produced and arranged five songs for the David Lynch Foundation’s Meditate America benefit which feature Graham Nash, Sting, Jim James, Kesha, Angelique Kidjo, Larkin Poe, and Elvis Costello. The socially-distant recorded tracks include a Gospel Choir, String and Horn sections and Rhythm Section featuring Steve Jordan on Drums, (Keith Richards, John Mayer, Sheryl Crow, Neville Brothers) and Larry Campbell on Guitars (Bob Dylan, Levon Helm).
Rob Mathes also directed the first live streamed show at the Kennedy Center post pandemic with Renee Fleming and Vanessa Williams. He has collaborated with producer Jake Sinclair on a Weezer record, and Sting and Italian pop star Zucchero on Sting’s 2021 song “September.” He also orchestrated and conducted the music for the upcoming movie musical In the Heights by Lin-Manuel Miranda, and is currently in pre-production on a record with singer-songwriter Pete Muller.
Additionally, Mathes played a role in Robert Plant and Jimmy Page getting full copyright over “Stairway to Heaven.” Led Zepplin and its lawyers asked Mathes to join the team as a music expert because of his arrangement of the song in 2012.