Winter Songs & Carols: Our Guest Vocalists

In our annual winter concert, Manitou Winds presents

a program of music, poetry, and prose inspiring you to embrace winter.

For this year’s Winter Songs & Carols performances, we’re delighted to be working with two talented vocalists who will grace the stage with their glittering interpretation of songs arranged especially for this year’s performances: Christy Burich and Emily Curtin Culler!

Christy Burich

Christy Burich


Christy moved to Traverse City only two years ago from Chicago, IL, where she’d been working as a Music Together center director for nearly 15 years sharing the joys of making music with young children and their families. Prior to that, she lived in Los Angeles for 10 years pursuing work in TV and film having received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Performance from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

It was while living in California that Christy decided to pursue working with children and earned her Master of Arts in Marriage, Family Therapy, and Child Counseling. Still thoroughly devoted to her work with children, she currently she teaches Music Together classes at the Elevated Arts studio in Traverse City and works as a teacher assistant at The Children’s House. Christy is also a children’s birthday party entertainer and the self-producer of two children’s holiday CDs.

Marrying her delectably warm voice with her unmistakable stage presence, Christy recently charmed throngs of children and grown-ups alike when she landed the starring role in the Old Town Playhouse’s production of Mary Poppins – The Broadway Musical.

You’ll also have a chance to see Christy onstage, January 2017, in the Old Town Playhouse production of Stephen Sondheim’s Company which, will be under the musical direction of none other than Manitou Winds’ own Sam Clark!

Emily Culler

Emily Curtin Culler


Emily is an active soloist, chorister, and chamber musician who recently moved to Michigan from Boston. As a soprano Choral Scholar with Boston University’s Marsh Chapel Choir, she performed weekly services for audiences throughout New England and around the globe via WBUR.

She is also an original core member of the Lorelei Ensemble, a nine-voiced women’s chamber group dedicated to expanding the repertoire for women’s voices. The ensemble specializes in performing lesser-known early music while also collaborating with living composers to produce innovative programming that speaks to a wide audience. (Hear recordings of Emily singing with Lorelei HERE!)

Emily earned her Master of Science in Arts Administration with a Certificate in Fund Raising Management and Master of Music in Vocal Performance degrees from Boston University, while receiving her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from Samford University. She also completed a special course of study in vocal performance at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, England.

In addition to being an in-demand performer, Emily is a non-profit and arts management professional. Presently, she is Director of Development at Interlochen Public Radio, insuring quality programming for listeners all across Northern Michigan (and beyond!).

We were delighted to have both Christy and Emily out to Leelanau County, recently, for a Manitou Winds rehearsal. Naturally, rehearsal was followed by a celebratory dinner prepared by our own Woodwind Gourmet. Jason had asked both our soloists for their favorite winter dishes and then served up a meal featuring a few of their favorites. It was a great time to celebrate our collaboration and to get to know one another a little better. Here are two of the recipes for you to try out this winter!


Tuscan Bean Soup
Serves 8
This is a wintertime favorite of Emily’s — a savory, heart-warming bowl of comfort. Jason’s version adds smoky bacon and a healthy helping of hearty greens to the mix.

Tuscan Bean Soup - Woodwind Gourmet1 pound dried cannellini beans
6 ounces applewood smoked bacon, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 large celery ribs, cut into bite-sized pieces
8 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 cups water
2 teaspoons dried summer savory
2 bay leaves
1 bunch collard greens, stemmed and chopped (or 10oz frozen)
1 14.5oz can whole tomatoes, crushed
1 sprig fresh rosemary

Soak beans at room temperature in 4 quarts water seasoned with 3 tablespoons sea salt for 8 hours or up to 24 hours; drain and rinse well. Alternately, you can use the “quick soak method”: in a Dutch oven cover the beans with water, add 3 tablespoons sea salt, bring to a boil, cover and boil for 2 minutes, remove from heat, let soak 1 hour. Drain and rinse well.

Preheat oven to 250-degrees. Sauté chopped bacon in Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fat has rendered and bacon is lightly browned. Add onion, carrots, and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and lightly browned (10-15 minutes). Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in broth, water, Tuscan Bean Soup - Woodwind Gourmetsavory, bay leaves, and soaked beans. Increase heat to high and bring to simmer. Cover pot, transfer to preheated oven, and cook until beans are mostly tender (45 minutes).

Remove pot for oven and stir in greens, tomatoes, and rosemary. Return pot to oven and continue cooking until beans and greens are fully tender (40 minutes to an hour).

Discard bay leaves and rosemary, season with additional salt and pepper. Serve with warm, crusty bread and lots of friends!


Irish Cream Truffles
Yields app. 30 truffles
Rich and sweet, these are one of Christy’s favorite ways to top off a wintertime celebration. With Irish Cream and dark chocolate, you’ll find it’s really hard to eat just one!

Irish Cream Truffles - Woodwind Gourmet8 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
1⁄4 cup unsalted butter
1⁄2 cup heavy cream
1⁄3 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream liqueur
Cocoa powder for coating

Place the chocolate and butter in a double-broiler over medium-low heat or melt gently in the microwave; stirring frequently just until melted and uniform. Remove from heat; stir in heavy whipping cream and Bailey’s until fully incorporated. Refrigerate uncovered for at least 2 hours or until the mixture has hardened enough to handle.

Using a teaspoon or a melon baller, scoop the mixture into portions and roll into 1-inch balls using your fingertips. (This works best if you chill your hands in ice water before starting!) Place the portions on parchment. Once all have been shaped, roll the truffles in a shallow dish with cocoa powder to coat. Place on a serving platter or in a covered dish and refrigerate until ready to serve.

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