Although she's only lived in Bakersfield for three years, new Bakersfield College choir director Jennifer Garrett wants to celebrate the history of her new hometown in her debut concert Friday evening.
"A Musical History of Bakersfield" is the title and theme of this first concert, which will be held at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 17th and B streets. Garrett said she is using the event to create a new kind of concert.
"I kind of want people to think of a concert as an experience," Garrett said. "I want to think outside the box."
To accomplish that, Garrett said the concert will begin with the Native American ensemble EagleHeart performing drum music and chanting -- a recognition of the first inhabitants of Kern County -- while the singers enter the room. The first choir set will recognize the Hispanic settlers of the area, and feature the most familiar of Mexican songs, including "La Cucaracha," "La Bamba," "Mexican Hat Dance" and "Cielito Lindo," accompanied by Mariachi San Marcos.
Leaving no space in the concert program unfilled, the local Irish group Wrenwood will perform during the intermission, culminating with a rendition of the Irish national anthem sung by Siobhan Yadon. The singers will continue the Celtic music set with "Letters from Ireland," a collection of real letters mixed with traditional Irish songs, plus music from Scotland. Accompanying the choir will be bagpiper Doug Burdick.
"This is meant to represent the Okies, who are of Irish and Scottish descent," Garrett said. "I didn't want to do all country music because that's not choral singing."
There will be one country song -- "Streets of Bakersfield" -- as a tribute to Buck Owens.
Garrett did concede that she is not including music from two of Bakersfield's and Kern County's founding groups -- Italians and Basque. Nor is there music representing the Chinese or African-American communities.
"We could do them; I couldn't fit in another set," Garrett said. "I was also limited to what we had in our music library."
Garrett said she made a point of including performers from the community in the concert, to create a greater connection between the choral program and Bakersfield.