Carol Harris

Did you know that before Gilroy became the Garlic Capital of the World it had the distinction of being the Tobacco Capitol of the United States during the 1870s? Since 1850 our fair city has also been deemed the Hay and Grain Capital, the Fruit and Nut Capital, the Dairy and Cheese Capital and the Prune Capital of California.   
These are but a few of the historical facts presented in the new Gilroy Museum Video Tour DVD. Filmed by Nils Myers and L. Mattock Scariott of 152 West Productions, the video is a virtual tour of the Museum with Gilroy’s own Barbara Bottini as guide. Thanks to the new video, funded by Gilroy Rotary, Gilroy Foundation and Gilroy Walmart, our unique museum is now better able to share its story with the entire community.
With a pleasing voice and friendly manner, Bottini makes every minute of the tour interesting as she guides us through the various rooms of the museum. Artifacts, paintings and photographs from the Ohlone Indians, the Spanish/Mexican Era, early schools, the Opera House, Wheeler Hospital, agriculture, businesses, banks and the Hot Springs have been carefully filmed to give the virtual visitor a clear picture of Gilroy’s rich history.
Among the artifacts are musical instruments, household items, the original mayor’s chair from Old City Hall, outhouse items and items from Gilroy’s China Town.
The viewer is treated to a photograph of Ivie Anderson, who sang with Duke Ellington, as well as a recording of her phenomenal voice. Other photos feature John Gilroy, Henry Miller and Electa Rockwell Ousley, one of the first women in Gilroy granted the right to claim her own land.
I’ve only mentioned a snippet of the video. It can be checked out at the Gilroy Library or purchased at the Museum or Gilroy Welcome Center. The reasonable price makes it an excellent stocking stuffer or gift for a history buff.
If you would like to help the Gilroy Historical Society maintain the museum and continue its operation and educational services, consider making an end-of-the-year tax-deductible gift to the museum endowment fund. The museum also welcomes volunteers.
I can’t think of a better way to welcome the holidays than enjoying an evening of beautiful choral music by Gilroy’s high school choirs.
This will be the last Christmas Concert for soon-to-retire director and Teacher of the Year, Phil Robb. The concert will feature traditional carols such as “O Holy Night,” a montage of “The First Noel” and “Pachelbel’s Canon,” a stylized “Deck the Halls,” as well as the ’50s doo-wop style “Blue Christmas,” and “Merry Christmas, Darling” originally recorded by Karen Carpenter.
True to tradition, Robb will end the concert with “Carol of the Bells” and Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus,” performed by both Gilroy and Christopher High schools and choir alumni who happen to be in attendance. In addition to the usual piano accompaniment, the choirs will be enhanced by a chamber orchestra and the outstanding saxophone of GHS graduate Greg Chambers. It will be a night to remember.
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Renowned Irish singer and songwriter Mary McLaughlin, her Cor Aingli (Angelic Choir) Singers and the highly regarded Zambra, a Celebration of Women’s voices, present “Sacred Songs for a Sacred Season” this month. Kathy Hopkins, who sings and records with Cor Aingli, said, “It will be a marriage of women’s voices made in Heaven.” Irish Gaelic, French, Hebrew, medieval Portuguese, Spanish and English will be represented in this year’s concert.
Traditional Irish instruments such as the Celtic harp – played by Steven Coulter – will accompany the choir. John Hopkins will join the instrumentalists on guitar and accompany Zambra on the Irish bouzouki.
The combined choirs will conclude the program with favorites from McLaughlin’s “A Gaelic Christmas” Concert Series, which delighted capacity audiences throughout the Monterey and San Francisco Bay areas last year.
McLaughlin holds a master’s degree in ritual chant and song from Limerick University, where she specialized in the mythological songs of Ireland as well as Latin plainchant and the Irish tradition of keening. I have attended her Christmas concerts for the past two years and find her a thrilling performer with a mesmerizing voice and unique sense of humor. The Cor Aingli Choir is truly angelic and will leave you wanting more.

Gilroy Museum tour video
$12. Available at:
• The Gilroy Museum, 195 Fifth St., Gilroy; Open Tuesday and Thursday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
• Gilroy welcome Center, 8155 Arroyo Circle, Gilroy; Open seven days a week from 10 a.m.
Christmas Tree Lighting and Holiday Parade
Dec. 8, from 3 – 7 p.m.; Parade at 5:30; Tree lighting at 6:30; Fifth and Monterey streets; (408) 842-0005
Gilroy Arts Alliance Christmas Boutique
Dec. 8 and 9, from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Center for the Arts, Monterey at Seventh Street, Gilroy
A Celebration of Women’s Voices
Dec. 15, 7:30 p.m.; Advent Lutheran Church, 16870 Murphy Ave., Morgan Hill; or (831) 335-4879
CHS and GHS Christmas Concert
Dec. 18 and 19, 7:30 p.m.
Gilroy High School all purpose room at Princevalle at 10th Street, Gilroy
$5 at the door

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