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Dolce Canto

Missoula vocal ensemble Dolce Canto.

Dolce Canto, a Missoula auditioned vocal ensemble, will represent a host of languages and time periods at its annual holiday concert, "Wonderful Peace."

The languages range from German, Latin and English to Yoruba. The time periods represented reach back from Bach to modern pieces by arrangers born in the late 1970s.

The title of the concert itself is from a popular Swedish carol, "Jul, Jul, Strålande Jul," said Peter Park, the group's artistic director, and was chosen to reflect the concert's theme of peace.

For this concert, the 26 members of the choral ensemble will partner with the 40-some members of the University of Montana Chamber Chorale. The two groups will perform individually and then join for a few selections.

Park said one of the more "harmonically challenging" pieces is "Snowflakes," by Lane Johnson, based on the poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. It's "an exquisite reflection on the text," he said.

Many of the traditional pieces will be heard through the prism of contemporary arrangements.

The "lush, beautiful" setting of "First Noel" for soprano solo and choir comes courtesy of Ola Gjeilo, a Norwegian composer and arranger now living in the United States. The choir has commissioned work from Gjeilo, although not this specific composition.

"Peace" is a "wonderfully pensive and calming song" derived from mid-19th century Shaker music, Park said. Kevin Siegfried's arrangement pairs a "very melodic writing" with a simple structure and a "profound text," that will encourage meditations on the concert's theme of peace, he said.

"Venite Adoremus" is another modern piece, based on the text from "O Come All Ye Faithful."

"You'll hear threads of the carol throughout the composition," Park said, noting that arranger Dan Forrest uses "some very lush modern harmonies and compositional techniques that create an atmosphere of peace and joy."

"Keresimesi Qdun De O" is Nigerian traditional sung in Yoruba. Park said it's a "joyous celebration" of Christmas with accompaniment from three percussionists and a familiar harmonic structure.

The more familiar tunes include two selections from the Alfred Burt Carols, "Caroling Caroling" and "We'll Dress the House," "Go, Tell It On the Mountain" featuring soloists from Dolce Canto, the ever-popular "In the Bleak Midwinter," and music by Bach, Mendelssohn, Schubert and Faure.

Dolce Canto was founded in 2001. In 2013, the group was invited to sing at Carnegie Hall. In 2014, the choir won the Dale Warland Singers Commission Award.

Earlier this fall, it released its second CD, "A Joyful Season." Copies of the CD will be for sale at the concert and at Rockin Rudy's.

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