See alumnus Michael Allen Harrison’s personality and talent warm the Parkrose High auditorium as he comes “Back Home” ‚Ä¶
Not often do school kids get to sing with an international recording star; Michael Allen Harrison seemed genuinely pleased to lead the Parkrose students in song.
Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Many families and students began their holiday season enjoying the genius and flair of award-winning Michael Allen Harrison in December.
The Parkrose High Theater was bedecked with simple-yet-elegant trim, adding a picture-postcard look to the event.
This, the fourth such annual event, featured performances by Parkrose High School A Cappella Choir, and the elementary school choirs from Prescott School and Russell Academy.
First, the choirs presented both traditional and modern Christmas songs.
Playing one of the Christmas arrangements that has made him an internationally renowned recording artist, Michael Allen Harrison entertains in the Parkrose High Theater.
Then, as Michael Allen Harrison walked out to sit at the grand piano, the audience broke into a thunderous applause. He played medleys of his original songs, show tunes, and holiday favorites.
We have a winner! This audience member correctly “named those tunes”.
After his “Show Tunes” medley, Harrison held an impromptu “quiz”, awarding an audience member with a CD for correctly naming both the tunes and shows.
As the combined choirs came back to the stage, Harrison talked with the audience, gave away more of his CD recordings. His relaxed, upbeat interaction with the audience was warm and engaging.
The combined choirs sing Silent Night.
Under Harrison’s direction, the choirs sang the Christmas song “Silent Night”. He asked the students to hum during the fourth verse, in honor of his friend, “musical saw” virtuoso, Allan deLay. Harrison reminded everyone how deLay, who passed away this year, had given much to Parkrose students over the year.
Proceeds from the program will be used help further develop the award-winning PHS choral program.
Talking with the audience, Harrison demonstrates his abilities as a skilled raconteur, in addition to being a consummate musician.
A moment with Michael
We spoke with Harrison backstage, and asked him why he comes back to Parkrose High to perform with kids.
“This is where I grew up. I love Parkrose. Anytime they ask me to come, I raise my hand and say, ‘Yes, of course.’
“There are all sorts of special feelings you get from different venues. But nothing compares to the feeling of being in the place where you grew up.
“The connection I feel here is so strong–both to those I’ve known in the past, and the young students here now. They embrace me and make me feel welcome. They make me feel like I’m still their neighbor and friend. When I come here, I’m truly home again.”
For more information about Harrison, his projects, catalog, and his performance schedule, see www.mahrecords.com.
¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News