Here at Classical Music Indy we are thankful for our community, our generous donors, and, of course, our talented performers! We connected with several of our musicians to see what Thanksgiving traditions they have with their families. From food to family to music, each artist has their own unique Thanksgiving customs. Read below to see how Corey Denham, Bethany Daugherty, Laura Recendez, Maya Nojiri Sutherland, John Alvarado, and Jennifer Gallegos spend their Thanksgiving!
Music Unites Artists’ Thanksgiving Traditions
Corey Denham is a freelance percussionist, percussion instructor at Indiana State University and Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, founding member of 10-Can Percussion, and founding member of Forward Motion. Corey has worked extensively with Classical Music Indy as an AfterSchool Indy and #RandomActsofMusic performer.
I’m fortunate to have a lovely family that lives in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. Some of my earliest musical memories are from Thanksgiving. Several members of my family, including my Great-Grandfather David Shelton, are virtuosic Appalachian Bluegrass musicians. After every Thanksgiving meal, there is an unbelievable pickin’ (bluegrass jam session). These moments of music making are welcoming, sincere, and enthusiastic. These Thanksgiving experiences have lead me to strive to help any audience feel comfortable and welcomed as my family makes me feel during the annual post-turkey pickin’.
Maya Nojiri Sutherland
Maya Nojiri Sutherland is freelance musician and cellist with the Indianapolis new music ensemble, Forward Motion. Maya has worked with Classical Music Indy over the past two years as a #RandomActsofMusic performer.
My first Thanksgiving experience was in 2006, the year I came to the United States. We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in Japan, where I’m from, so I had no idea what it was all about– I had never even seen a turkey before! But now I’ve come to appreciate the concept of Thanksgiving more and more every year. I don’t have any crazy fun Thanksgiving traditions, but I love spending the day with my family, just relaxing and having a nice meal together. It’s such a wonderful opportunity to remind myself to stop for a moment and to be thankful for people that I love the most.
Laura Recendez is the second flutist with the Anderson Symphony, piccolo/flutist with the Lafeyette Symphony, and Operations Manager with Chickadee Gardens. Laura has worked with Classical Music Indy since the launch of Music Unites as a Senior Concert Seriers, AfterSchool Indy, and #RandomActsofMusic performer.
Thanksgiving to me is all about a big, home cooked meal and lots of family time. Now that I am a new mom, I am looking forward to creating new traditions and memories with my son. Building community around food is a big part of my life outside of being a musician, so fostering that in my own home around the holidays is a top priority. Finding fun ways to incorporate the kids into preparing the meal, and playing games centered around thankfulness and appreciation are a few ways that I hope to foster a love of food and sense of community and giving for my son as he grows up.
Bethany Daugherty is the personnel manager and section violinist with the Anderson Symphony, a freelance musician, and a member of Juvin: The One Man Band (a local bluegrass/folk band). Bethany has worked with Classical Music Indy since 2016 and has performed countless Senior Series Concerts and #RandomActsofMusic, as well as AfterSchool Indy programs.
Like most people, my favorite Thanksgiving tradition revolves around food. Every year my dad makes a tart and tangy cranberry relish. About half an hour before dinner, he fires up the food processor and sends through a bag of raw cranberries and a whole unpeeled orange. Then he mixes in about a cup of sugar (to taste), and lets it sit and marinate until dinner is served. The process of grating the orange makes the house smell amazing. Thanksgiving is just pre-Christmas to me and the sharp citrus smell in the air is a promise of finding an orange tucked in the toe of my stocking every Christmas morning (another family tradition). You can find variations of the recipe if you look up “cranberry orange relish” online. It’s a simple and delicious twist on cranberry sauce.
John Alvarado is a Lecturer of Guitar at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, the President of the Indianapolis Society of the Classical Guitar, and a recipient of the Arts Council of Indianapolis’ prestigious Creative Renewal Fellowship. John has worked with Classical Music Indy from the inception of Music Unites as a #RandomActsofMusic and Senior Concert Seriers performer.
Thanksgiving at our house is all about family. We are fortunate to live close to my siblings and parents, and Thanksgiving is a time for us all to take a break from our very busy schedules and spend a day relaxing, eating, talking, and laughing. It is also a great chance for our kids to all spend the day together playing and enjoying each other’s company. I love that all these cousins get to grow up together as friends so that hopefully someday they will continue to gather with their own families when they grow up.
Jennifer Gallegos is a flutist who can play in any style. She performs throughout Indianapolis as a classical and jazz musician, and is the owner of Chica Fluta Studio (a private lesson business in Indy). Jennifer has worked with Classical Music Indy in three of our Music Unites programs, as a #RandomActsofMusic, Senior Concert Series, and AfterSchool Indy performer.
Thanksgiving is my favorite time of the year; it’s the holiday that brings family and friends together, and the entire week leading up to it is all about food, reflection, gratitude, and house cleaning. (!!!)
The tradition in my family is that I, yours truly, hosts and prepares the feast, and I take this job very seriously! I research and prepare a new dish each year: you see, my family is a sort of United Nations…brother-in-law from India, sister-in-law from Korea, my own Spanish heritage from my father, and my mother’s German lineage, and my stepfather is Italian. So when I prepare the meal I take all their tastes into account, and try to prepare a unique but delicious side dish that everyone will enjoy without bending their palette. Last year was pretty simple: I was in a very French frame of mind, so I basted and prepared the turkey in Champagne. Real champagne. It was a hit! So much so that everyone asked that I do the same this year and not prepare a new dish. Hmmmm…… maybe they’re trying to tell me something 🙂
Traditions? Delicious feast, traditional style, with United Nations appetizers Wine, Champagne, board games, music, and someone ALWAYS brings someone new to the table.
Here’s a small portion of our family before the board game battles begin. Needless to say, we give our thanks and love towards each other before the gloves come off and the games begin. We are perhaps a little competitive…. And not great about getting group photos…we are a “live in the moment” kind of family ♥