Season of Lights Holiday Benefit

A unifying celebration of peace and goodwill presented by Peter Joseph Zisa and Friends.
Join us at this annual holiday community event, December 9, 2017 at 7:00 PM.
Recommended Donations – $20 individual, $30 couple/family
First Congregational Church
1126 SW Park Ave
Portland, OR  97205

Highlights from the 2016 Season of Lights Holiday Benefit Concert

A Celebration of Community and Peace

Season of Lights, an annual benefit concert since 2006, returns for its 11th year with an exciting program of music that celebrates the many cultural and faith traditions of our community.  Excellent performers from many musical traditions will join together to present music from the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.  Season of Lights is a gift to the community from Peter Joseph Zisa and Friends. It is also an opportunity to support charitable organizations that benefit our community.

Dance & the Season of Lights! For the first time SOL celebration will include dance. From the West (Spain) and the East (Thailand)!

Flamenco guitarist Brenna McDonald began her studies with Martita Santiago (baile) and Jaime Woods (guitar) in Eugene, Oregon. Since then she has devoted her life to the study of flamenco, moving to Spain in 2003-2004 to study with Chiqui de Jerez and Jose Luis Balao and in 2008-2009 to study under Juan and Saray de los Reyes. Brenna started performing in 2004 with Solo Flamenco while pursuing her B.A. in Cultural Anthropology from Reed College (’06). Brenna has performed and collaborated with Flamenco Callejero, El Cuadro Gallo, Madjaleo, Assa Flamenco, Tablao de Rosas. Brenna is a founding member of La Peña Flamenca de Portland and Espacio Flamenco where teaches flamenco dance and guitar and co-organizes the performance company Espacio Flamenco Company. 

Espacio Flamenco Company is a professional performance group based out of Espacio Flamenco’s studio that produces a variety of shows around Portland where new audiences can be exposed to flamenco.

Thai Dancers from the Thai Society Association of Oregon – is a non-profit organization dedicated to the celebration of Thai Culture through education, public service and cultural performances. Since its inception in 1996, the organization has been best known for its signature performances of Thai classical dance at various charity events, retirement centers and festivals. Your benefaction will ensure the continuation of this mission.

Ilene Safyan, recognized by Entertainment Weekly and the American Library Association, is West Coast’s most celebrated Jewish musical artists. Ilene weaves the multicultural musical strands of the Jewish experience into a rich, harmonic tapestry of sound.  She is also cantorial soloist at Neveh Shalom and Havurah Shalom. Ilene will be joined by Ed Kraus (clarinet), Steve Cohen (bass), and Andrew Ehrlich (violin).

XXDigitusDuo (“Twenty Fingers Dancing” Duo), named in Artslandia as one of Portland’s favorite arts, is a “dynamic, impressive, and intrepid” piano duo. Recipient of 2016 RAC ~ XX Digitus Duo. Friends and colleagues since college years at New England Conservatory, pianists Momoko Muramatsu and Maria Garcia have enjoyed individual careers that have taken them to over a dozen countries, performing in a variety of formats at the Aspen, Tanglewood, Casals and Bergen festivals and with groups such as the Mark Morris Dance Company amongst many others. Based in Portland since 2014 they joined forces to perform the piano duo repertoire. In addition to presenting major works for four-hand and two pianos, they explore the vast repertoire of their shared Latin American musical heritage. Very animated performers, and their dramatic body language and facial expressions are an entertaining part of their performance. Their visible friendship chemistry and enthusiasm for music are contagious and uplifting.

Thousand Waves, an “electric and exciting blend of musical styles from different continents” (Art Beat, 2011), is a world-music ensemble founded by Peter Zisa a decade ago which blends the sounds of the Japanese Koto with the guitar, flute, violin, and percussion.  With its program theme “West Meets East,” it has featured Yukiko Yamaguchi on koto and LeeAnn McKenna on flute.

Seasons of Lights 2018

Previous Beneficiaries of Season of Lights fundraising

  • Season of Lights 2017 benefitted Casa Della Zisa Collegium Musica
  • Season of Lights 2016 raised $1556 for the Alzheimer’s Association
  • Season of Lights 2015 benefitted Transitional Community School (School for homeless Youth)
  • Season of Lights 2014 benefitted Hand in Hand (Integrated Palestinian and Israeli students schools in Israel), and Jewish Family and Children Services
  • Season of Lights 2006-2013 benefitted Jewish Family and Children Services

Reviews of previous Season of Light performances

Thank you so much for choosing the Alzheimer’s Association as the beneficiary of your Seasons of Light concert. It was a beautiful event that really brought a sense of unity among all who were there. I’ve already heard from a few of our choir members’ families that they found the experience profound and moving, especially hearing you share your story and instrumental piece [Romanza by Antonio Rubira] as the Sing Here Now group took the stage.

Jenny Herget MPH
Early-Stage Program Coordinator, Alzheimer’s Association Oregon Chapter

The opening ensemble was fantastic. I hope we get to hear more of this in the future? After intermission I looked at the program and realized that there was so much yet to come. The trio of singers was a highlight, a wonderful juxtaposition of different faith tradition voices, that while terrific individually, combined into something grander. It really struck me how much they epitomized the Season of Lights message. On the way home I asked my wife if she liked that part and she said she teared up at that point in the program.


Thank you Peter for orchestrating such a beautiful night of music and community!!

Crystal Akins
Director of Intergenerational Women’s Choir and Sing Here Now Choir

Last night was so uplifting and deeply moving, and it was a great joy to be connected to all of you in intention and in music.

Ilene Safyan
Cantor at Neveh Shalom & Havurah Shalom

Season of Lights 2016 was such a lovely event with beauty, love and community.


Thank you so much for bringing all these wonderful musicians together to share with us their joy and especially, you with your beautifully playing.


The music last night was outstanding! After all the negativity from the press and others it was much needed. I am sure I was not alone in thinking this. I felt a warmth, connectedness and hope for our country again.


My wife and I want to let you know how much we enjoyed the concert. I have been sick all week and thought I might not be able to go, but my wife protested, “It’s become our tradition!”