Mannheim Steamroller is such an indelible part of winter and the holiday season that I’m betting one of their songs is playing in your ear right now, just by reading their name. This band’s iconic sound, energetic performances and passionate fan base means seeing them live is something you will never forget. Principal musician Roxanne Layton talks about the joy of filming, her favorite parts of the stage, and bringing The Mannheim Steamroller returns to San Diego for a performance on December 30 at the San Diego Civic Theater.
Roxanne Layton has performed her entire life and has performed with Boston Pops, New World Symphony, Portland Baroque Orchestra, Handel and Haydn, and many more throughout her career. Her long time experience in music, and with so many talented organizations, which is why she knows the unique Mannheim Steamroller sound is one of the reasons it resonates so much with people.
“Mannheim Steamroller has its own unique sound as Chip Davis writes for early musical instruments that include lute, recorders, harpsichord, dulcian, and crumhorn. These last two are double reed instruments from the 16th century. It also includes a powerful keyboard synth sound combined with rock and roll drums. All accompanied by a small orchestra of violins, viola, cello, oboe, English horn, French horn and trumpet. The combination of all these instruments creates a mixture of old and new textures. And we can play tender and delicate songs like Silent Night and Oh Holy Night as well as the Steamrolling rock arrangements of Angel We Have Heard on High and Deck the Halls. “
Roxane is the main musician, and also plays the recorder and percussion, and is now the mistress of ceremonies who welcomes people to the show. Steamroller is not only made up of people who have been with the group for years, but also has new generations of performers.
âI play the recorder parts that Chip writes a lot of melodies for because he’s a recorder and drummer. When he played drums, we changed the recorder and percussion. But now that he’s not. play more drums with us I play all parts of recorder and percussion. Logan Pennington is our second generation Steamroller on drums. His father Chuck Pennington was the conductor and keyboardist of the Red Band.
I am also MC and welcome the audience and introduce the members of Mannheim Steamroller. “
In fact, some of Roxane’s favorite moments on the show are the way the music is arranged to build and mix the percussion, horns, strings, which still bring tears to her eyes with every performance.
âI love playing percussion with Logan Pennington the drummer on Angels We Have Heard on High to play bells alongside Becky Kia Mills (violinist) who performs solo on Oh Holy Night and Silent Night. There is a place in Oh Holy Night which brings tears to my eyes every time. This is when the French horn comes in after the piece has been built and is almost done. Chip did a brilliant and beautiful job arranging these two as he is an incredible composer and arranger. I don’t know if I have ever heard a nicer arrangement. “
Roxane was a member of Mannheim Steam Roller for 26 years, and she says touring and introducing people to this music, even if it means traveling through winter and vacations, is as much a gift to her as it is to the public.
âI love to travel all over the country and meet wonderful people, whether it’s in a small town in Iowa or in metropolitan cities like Milwaukee or Chicago. I love traveling with a tribe, settling down, playing a show, break down the show and start over the next day. We are a family here and we support each other and celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas together for many years. It’s also wonderful to play live music again after a year off and see how hungry the audience is. For me the two-way 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 the same boat.. “
Last year was the first year the band couldn’t tour and they’re very happy to be back on tour to bring music to people this holiday season. Being on tour means Roxane celebrates the holidays and brings a unique experience to people throughout the New Year she cherishes.
âI’m literally in the Christmas spirit from 2 weeks before Thanksgiving until New Years. What more could you ask for? I am so grateful to play my eclectic instrument (recorders) with these wonderful musicians and beautiful music. Which gift ! “
How to get tickets
The Mannheim Steamroller will travel to San Diego and the Civic Theater for a live performance on December 30. Don’t miss the return of this one-of-a-kind musical event.
For more information on tickets and timetables, visit www.broadwaysd.com
You can also follow Mannheim Steamroller on their Facebook page and you can follow Roxane on www.roxannelayton.com
Covid policy: all customers will have to wear masks and show proof of full vaccination, or one PCR Covid-19 negative within 48 hours, or rapid antigen test performed by a healthcare professional within 12 hours of show time attend all events until further notice.
Photo credit: Mannheim Steamroller and Broadway San Diego