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Darko Butorac

Darko Butorac leads the Missoula Symphony Orchestra through rehearsals for a concert in 2012.

Sometimes you don’t mess with a working formula, like the Missoula Symphony Orchestra and Chorale’s yearly Holiday Pops concert.

“People know it and love it,” Special Events Coordinator Shanna Ungate said. “And if they don’t know it, they attend and they will love it.”

The concert has already sold out two of its three performances, with a few hundred tickets still available for the Sunday evening show on Dec. 2.

That performance features the Hellgate Choir singing holiday songs before the concert, when hot cocoa will be available for early attendees. Big Sky and C.S. Porter middle school will perform at the other two concerts.

The big news, though, is the encore auction — which includes the return of Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus,” Ungate said, along with “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.”

Attendees will vote via donation for their preferred encore song, with only cash or check accepted. No pressure, lovers of “Hark,” but the “Hallelujah Chorus” is the perennial favorite.

The main performance program will have a jazz medley that includes a rendition of “White Christmas” along with religious favorites “O Holy Night” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.”

“The jazz singer we brought in is really good,” Ungate said.

Tchaikovsky’s “Waltz of the Flowers” from the Nutcracker ballet and “Sleigh Ride” round out the show.

New chorale risers will add to the visual and aural impact of the chorus, Ungate said, and Santa himself will be on hand to bolster the holiday spirit.

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Arts and entertainment

arts reporter for the Missoulian.