By Charmain Z. BrackettCorrespondent
Some of Roxanne Layton’s favorite moments touring with Mannheim Steamroller have come after the final notes have been played.
“One of my favorite times is meeting people after the show at the autograph table and talking to them,” said Layton, who has performed with the group for 24 years. “They tell us the music brings such joy. Three generations of families have enjoyed our music. People will tell us they played ‘Silent Night’ at dad’s funeral because it was his favorite, or they had cancer and the music helped them heal. These things are so personal.”
Mannheim Steamroller is celebrating its 35th Christmas tour this year and will be in concert at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 16, at Bell Auditorium.
Layton, who plays the drums and the recorder, said the concert will feature music from the group’s first Christmas album from 1984, and she’s been looking forward to the tour, which began Nov. 11.
Layton’s journey to becoming part of Mannheim Steamroller didn’t come through a traditional audition process. She was making recorders at the time. Someone had given her a recording of Mannheim Steamroller, and the tape was sitting next to her radio when she heard the disc jockey say he was giving away tickets to the group’s concert.
She called and won. About 20 minutes later, a trumpet player with Mannheim Steamroller came into the shop where she was working. During the course of the conversation, she told him she had just won tickets to the concert. He invited her to meet the group members after the show.
She met Chip Davis who created Mannheim Steamroller, and he discovered the two had a lot in common. They both played drums and recorder, and they both made recorders. From that meeting, she gave him a recording from her recital. Layton graduated from the New England Conservatory of Music. That meeting led to her recording with the group and then traveling with it.
She’s also performed with the Boston Pops, Boston Lyric Opera, Portland Baroque Orchestra, Handel and Haydn, Emmanuel Music, Utah Opera Company, Boston Early Music Festival Orchestra and Spectrum Singers.
Performing with Mannheim Steamroller is special, she said.
Even though it takes Layton away from her own family during the holiday season, she said she loves the experience.
“I grew up going to midnight Mass and singing these songs,” she said. “They mean so much to me. We do this every night, and I become immersed in Christmas. They are the best two months of the year.”
Davis has sold 29 million Christmas records, making him and Mannheim Steamroller the top Christmas music performers. Elvis Presley comes in second place with 17 million Christmas records sold.
Tickets for Mannheim Steamroller are $59.25-$80.75 and are available at AECtix.com.