A&E

Downers Grove composer’s world premiere to be part of St. Charles Singers’ ‘Candlelight Carols’

The St. Charles Singers will present a signature mix of Christmas favorites and stylish, lesser-known seasonal songs, including a world premiere by composer Scott Stevenson of Downers Grove, at the “Candlelight Carols” concerts in St. Charles and Chicago, continuing a Yuletide tradition that began with the choir’s founding in 1984.

Tickets are available for the concert in St. Charles at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3, but are sold out for the Sunday matinee at Baker Memorial United Methodist Church at 307 Cedar Ave. Seats are available for the performance at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4, at Fourth Presbyterian Church off Michigan Avenue between East Delaware Place and East Chestnut Street in Chicago.

Hailed by American Record Guide as “a national treasure,” the St. Charles Singers will perform 18 seasonal songs, including five that are new to the choir’s repertoire.

Founder and Music Director Jeffrey Hunt likens the creation of each year’s holiday program to trimming a Christmas tree, but with “musical ornaments.”

“We always include treasured songs that everyone looks forward to,” Hunt said in a news release. “But what sets this year’s program apart is the rich variety of familiar carols in modern settings.”

Songs were chosen that evoke “happy memories and optimism for the future,” Hunt said.

Among songs to be heard for the first time at a St. Charles Singers concert is a new work by multifaceted musician Scott Stevenson, who was commissioned by the St. Charles Singers.

Receiving its world premiere will be Stevenson’s “Whose woods are these,” a musical setting of Robert Frost poetry.

“The piece is unusual in that it uses a whirly tube and harness bells to illuminate the ethereal and stark colors of the work,” Hunt said.

Other works on the “Candlelight Carols” program are Boris Ord’s setting of “Adam lay ybounden,” Jan Sandström’s arrangement of Michael Praetorius’s melody for “Lo, how a rose e’er blooming,” Javier Busto’s setting of “Ave Maria,” Shawn Kirchner’s arrangement of Glenn McClure and Wes Kennison’s “One Sweet Little Baby,” Alice Parker and Robert Shaw’s arrangement of “Bring a Torch, Jeannette, Isabella,” Robert A. Boyd’s arrangement of David Willcocks’ “Silent Night,” and Christopher Robinson’s setting of “Rejoice and be merry.”

Also featured will be Carolyn Jennings’ arrangement of “Ding Dong! Merrily on High,” Robert Pearsall’s arrangement of “In dulci jubilo,” Paul Manz’s “E’en So, Lord Jesus, Quickly Come,” R.R. Terry’s “Myn Lyking,” John Rutter’s “Mary’s Lullaby,” Willcocks’ “Birthday Carol,” Rutter’s arrangement of “Sans Day Carol,” David Hill’s arrangement of “Away in a Manger,” Peter Warlock’s “Balulalow,”and Arthur Warrell’s arrangement of “A Merry Christmas.”

Tickets

Single admission to “Candlelight Carols” is $40 for adults, $35 for seniors age 65 and older, and $10 for students. Group discounts are available.

Tickets and information are available at www.stcharlessingers.com or by calling 630-513-5272. Tickets are also available at Townhouse Books, 105 N. Second Ave., St. Charles (checks or cash only at this ticket venue). Tickets may be purchased at the door on the day of the concert, depending on availability.

Candlelight carolers

Sopranos performing in the concert are Jeanne Fornari of Batavia; Ingrid Burrichter, Chicago; Marybeth Kurnat, DeKalb; Jessica Palmisano, Elburn; Laura Johnson, Hanover Park; Cynthia Spiegel, La Fox; Jennifer Gingrich and Meredith Taylor Mollica, both of Naperville; and AnDréa James and Karen Rockett, both of St. Charles.

Alto voices are Margaret Fox and Valerie Heinkel-Bollero, both of Batavia; Nicole Tolentino, Carol Stream; Bridget Kancler, Chicago; Rachel Miller, Maple Park; Chelsea King, North Aurora; Jennifer Hunt, St. Charles; Karen Archbold, Wheaton; and Debby Wilder, Wheeling.

The tenor section includes Tyler Theis, Aurora; Rob Campbell, DeKalb; Bradley Staker, Elburn; Marcus Jansen, Geneva; Stephen Mollica, Naperville; Gregor King, North Aurora; Nick Falco, Schaumburg; Aaron James, St. Charles; and David Hunt, Wayne.

Bass singers are Michael Thoms, Aurora; Brandon Fox, Batavia; David Zemke, Bloomingdale; Nate Coon and Brian Jozwiak, both of Crystal Lake; Jess Koehn, Downers Grove; David Hartley, Lake in the Hills; Michael Popplewell, North Aurora; and Antonio Quaranta, River Grove.

The concert’s collaborative pianist is William Buhr.

St. Charles Singers

Founded and directed by Jeffrey Hunt, the St. Charles Singers is a chamber choir dedicated to choral music in all its forms. The mixed-voice ensemble of 30-plus voices includes professional singers, choral directors, and voice instructors, some of whom perform with other top-tier Chicago choirs. Classics Today has called the ensemble “one of North America’s outstanding choirs,” citing “charisma and top-notch musicianship” that “bring character and excitement to each piece.”

Among the St. Charles Singers’ prominent guest conductors have been English composer John Rutter, founder of the Cambridge Singers; Philip Moore, composer and former music director at England’s York Minster cathedral; and Grammy Award-winning American choir director Craig Hella Johnson. The choir launched as the Mostly Madrigal Singers.