Mannheim Steamroller is such an indelible part of the winter and holiday season that I bet one of their songs is running through your heard right now, just from reading their name. This group’s iconic sound, energetic performances, and passionate fan base mean that seeing them live is something you will never forget. Lead musician Roxanne Layton talks about the joy of touring, her favorite parts of performing, and bringing Mannheim Steamroller Christmas to San Diego for a performance on December 30th at the San Diego Civic Theatre.
Roxanne Layton has been performing her whole life and has performed with the Boston pops, New World Symphony, Portland Baroque Orchestra, Handel and Haydn, and many more throughout her career. Her lifelong experience playing music, and with so many talented organizations is how she knows that Mannheim Steamroller’s unique sound is one of the reasons that it resonates so much with people.
“Mannheim Steamroller has its own unique sound because Chip Davis writes for Early Music Instruments which include the Lute, Recorders, Harpsichord, Dulcian, and Crumhorn. The latter two are 16th century double reed instruments. He also includes a strong Keyboard Synth sound combined with Rock and Roll Drums. All of this is accompanied by a small orchestra of Violins, Viola, Cello, Oboe, English Horn, French Horn, and Trumpet. The combination of all of these instruments creates a mixture of old and new textures. And we can play delicate tender songs like Silent Night and Oh Holy Night as well as the Steamrolling rocking arrangements of Angel We Have Heard on High and Deck the Halls. “
Roxane is the lead musician, and also plays the recorder, and percussion, and is now the Master of Ceremonies who welcome people to the show. Steamroller is not just made up of people who have been with the group for years, and but it’s also got new generations of performers as well.
“I play the recorder parts which Chip writes a lot of the melodies for because he is a recorder player and drummer. When he was playing the drums we would trade off Recorder and Percussion. But now that he isn’t playing the drums with us anymore I play all of the recorder parts and percussion. Logan Pennington is our 2nd generation Steamroller on Drums. His dad Chuck Pennington was the conductor and keyboard player in the red band.
I also MC and welcome the audience as well as introduce the members of Mannheim Steamroller.”
In fact, some of Roxane’s favorite moments in the show are the ways the music is arranged to build and blend the percussion, horns, strings, that still bring tears to her eyes in each performance.
“I love rocking it on percussion with the Logan Pennington the drummer on Angels We Have Heard on High to playing the bells alongside Becky Kia Mills (violinist) who solo’s on Oh Holy Night and Silent Night. There is a place in Oh Holy Night that brings tears to my eyes every time. It’s when the French Horn comes in after the piece builds and is almost over. Chip did a brilliant and beautiful job arranging those two as he is an amazing composer and arranger. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard a more beautiful arrangement.”
Roxane has been a member of Mannheim Steamroller for 26 years, and she says that touring and bringing this music to people, even though it means traveling through winter and the holidays is as much a gift for her as it is for those in the audience.
” I love traveling all over the country meeting wonderful people whether it’s in a small town in Iowa to Metropolis cities like Milwaukee or Chicago. I love traveling with a Tribe, setting up, playing a show, breaking down the show, and doing it again the next day. We are a family out here and support each other and celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas together for many many years. It’s also wonderful to play live music again after a year off and see how hungry the audience is for it. For me the reciprocal relationship between performer and audience is special. We need each other. And it’s a wonderful way to share a moment and know that we are all in this together.”
Last year was the first year the group wasn’t able to tour and they are so happy to be back on tour bringing music to people this holiday season. Being on tour means that Roxane is celebrating the holidays and bringing a unique experience to people all the way through the new year which she treasures.
“I’m literally in the Christmas Spirit from 2 weeks before Thanksgiving until New Year. What more can I ask for? I am so grateful to be playing my eclectic instrument (recorders) with these wonderful musicians and beautiful music. What a gift!”
How to get tickets
Mannheim Steamroller is coming to tot San Diego and the Civic Theatre for a live performance on December 30th. Don’t miss the return of this one-of-a-kind musical event.
For ticket and showtime information go to www.broadwaysd.com
You can also follow Mannheim Steamroller on their Facebook page and you can follow Roxane at www.roxannelayton.com
Covid Policy: All patrons will be required to wear masks and show proof of full vaccination, or a negative Covid-19 PCR within 48 hours, or rapid antigen test performed by a medical professional within 12 hours of showtime to attend all events until further notice.
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