Winter Serenade Benefit

An afternoon of music from some of the area’s best voices is planned for Sunday as a benefit for four local organizations.

The Winter Serenade Benefit will be held at 3 p.m. in the Marietta High School auditorium and money raised from the event will go to the O’Neill Center, The Right Path for Washington County, the Colony Theatre and ReStore Marietta.

“It’s a fun event and people can go to get enjoyment and to help a good cause,” said Terry Zdrale, executive director of the O’Neill Center. “For us, the money will go into the general operating expenses for the center…with funding and other cuts, we’ve been losing money so really all nonprofits are in continual fundraising mode.”

In the past, similar concert events have been held to benefit the O’Neill Center but this year it was decided that the money would be divided among four equally deserving groups.

“Any money that we get from the event will probably fund our downtown revitalization project,” said Mallory Greenham, ReStore Marietta executive director.

Some of the musicians who will be performing the classical, Broadway, pop, country and gospel numbers include Jennifer Simmons, John A. Walsh, Melissa Corcoran and John Walsh, who is producing the concert and has been a well-known entertainer in the area for the past 40 years. Walsh has appeared in productions of “The Music Man,” “Man of La Mancha,” “South Pacific” and “Fiddler on the Roof.”

“I have done eight musicals since 1972 when I started in ‘Oliver’ and I had never been in any shows before,” Walsh said. “After that I said I wanted to do ‘Fiddler on the Roof.'”

The show was a smash, performed in front of 10,000 people, according to Walsh, and served as a benefit for St. Mary School. From that point on, Walsh and other performers and musicians have given their time and talents to benefit worthwhile causes. Sunday’s performance will be no different.

“I thought it would be nice to do a community musical and this group is very excited and working hard,” Walsh said.

Simmons has been a cantor at St. Mary’s Church in Marietta since 1984 and regularly performs at the Ohio River Sternwheel Festival, Music on the Levee and other area events. She has released three CDs and works for Marietta City Schools as a speech/language pathologist.

Corcoran has been singing in musicals since the age of 9 and has appeared in “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Guys and Dolls” and “Oklahoma.” She was a finalist in the 2005 American Italian Idol contest in Columbus. Corcoran also works for Marietta City Schools.

John A. Walsh has released seven albums as a soloist and also as a member of George’s Attic and The Fossils. He began playing guitar and writing songs at the age of 11 and has gone on to perform alongside many well-known musicians. Walsh is active in promoting live music and was instrumental in the advent of The Adelphia Music Hall in Marietta.

His most recent project is “The Fields of Gettysburg,” a song cycle based on real events and real people from the battle that took place in Gettysburg, Pa., in July 1863.

The audience at Sunday’s performance will get a taste of the piece when Walsh, as James Longstreet, is joined by musicians Todd Burge, as John Buford; Jessica Baldwin, as Mary Wade; Justin Arthur, as Wesley Culp and Bill White accompanying on piano.

“This will be the first time the public will be able to hear these songs,” said the elder Walsh. “My son has done a lot of research and has worked for five years putting this together.”

Tickets are $15 and will be available at the door or People’s News outlets in Parkersburg and Marietta, through The Right Path, the O’Neill Center and ReStore Marietta.