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The magic of Christmas Wizards of Winter to perform at Penn’s Peak

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    The Wizards of Winter will perform at Penn’s Peak on Dec. 20. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Published December 12. 2019 12:21PM

On Dec. 20, the magic of Christmas will rock its way onto the Penn’s Peak stage for people of all ages to enjoy.

At the tail-end of their 30-city 2019 tour, The Wizards of Winter will put on their nationally beloved Christmas rock opera hosting music from their self-titled CD as well as their albums, “The Magic of Winter” and “Christmas Dreams.”

Over the years, the band has hosted many legendary artists from a plethora of bands including the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Def Leppard, The Irish Tenors, Blue Oyster Cult, Rainbow, Alice Cooper Band and more.

However originally, back in 2009, the band was not only named after a TSO song but founded on the band’s music to raise funds to support a struggling food pantry. A decade later, the band rocks original music inspired by classic Christmas melodies.

The band currently includes co-founders Scott Kelly as musical director and Sharon Kelly on flute and vocals. It also includes bassist Greg Smith, drummer John O’Reilly, guitarist Fred Gorhau, guitarist Steve Brown, vocalist Karl Scully, violinist and vocalist Kornelia Rad, vocalist Vinny Jiovino, narrator Tony Gaynor as well as vocalist and saxophonist Shawna Maria.

Gorhau, growing up, found his musical inspiration in a broad range of artists, particularly Johnny Cash and KISS.

According to Gorhau, seeing Cash perform on TV as a kid and being taken to a KISS concert by his dad in sixth grade was what really sparked his passion to perform. He also found inspiration in Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple.

With his main musical experience falling under the metal genre as well as music education, Wizards of Winter was a bit different of a speed than he was used to, however, he loves it, particularly the way the music touches audiences and connects people in the Christmas spirit on an emotional level.

“That’s what music is about, it’s supposed to touch people’s emotions,” Gorhau said. “We are pretty lucky to have the chance to offer that – our show kind of runs the gamut between the great things about Christmas (and)sometimes, Christmas isn’t a very happy time for people … (we) address that in certain songs, too.”

Smith, on the other hand, also had a much different prior musical experience including being the bassist for Ted Nugent as well as formerly playing in Rainbow, alongside O’Reilly.

Growing up, Smith said his biggest musical inspiration was the “Machine Head” album by Deep Purple. After hearing it, he just knew he “had to perform the stuff.”

Smith, similarly to Gorhau, loves to material and how it gets audiences into the Christmas spirit, despite differing experiential history.

“Over the years, you lose a little bit of that (Christmas) spirit and this helps you get back into it again … it’s infectious,” Smith said. “When people hear iconic Christmas songs in the Wizard’s style, it’s really cool. They hear the melodies they’ve known their whole life but done in a different style … you can see the smiles on their faces when that light bulb goes off.”

To enjoy this upcoming holiday spectacular that Gorhau describes as a mix between a rock concert and a Broadway show, fans can visit any Ticketmaster outlet or stop at the Penn’s Peak ticket window during business hours to purchase tickets.

On the night of the show, doors open at 6 p.m. and showtime is at 8 p.m.

“People always leave smiling and I think everyone needs more of that kind of thing in this crazy world,” Smith said.

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