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Merced College chorale prepares for holiday concert
MC Chorale F2016
The Merced College Chorale will be performing their first concert with an all student choir Dec. 3. - photo by Photo Contributed

The Merced College Chorale is making its debut as it presents “We Lift Our Voices,” a Christmas holiday choral concert, in the Merced College Theater on Dec. 3.

For the first time in three decades the Chorale is entirely made up of student singers, said Director Curtis Nelson.

“We started this group two years ago, but have had combined concerts with the evening community-based choral group for the past two years,” Nelson said.  “It’s now time for them to find their wings.”

The Chorale will also perform in concert on Dec. 10 at the Merced Multicultural Arts Center in downtown Merced. The second concert will raise funds for the Multicultural Arts Center, with all ticket proceeds going to the center.

“It’s a small thing we can do to help support a valuable community arts resource,” Nelson said.

Nelson, who is in his 20th year teaching and conducting at Merced College, is taking this college Chorale for their solo “flight” this semester.  A non-credit evening choral group, the Merced College Community Chorus, is continuing under the new direction of Philip Smallwood.

“I’m proud of the evening group and the wonderful music we brought to the stage; under Phil’s direction, I know they’ll do more of the same.” Nelson said.

The Merced College Chorale concert will consist of traditional holiday songs, such as “The Little Drummer Boy,” “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” and “Carol of the Bells,” as well as a broad range of more contemporary songs.

            “We have holiday songs made famous by everyone from the Andrews Sisters to Stevie Wonder to Frank Sinatra,” Nelson said.  “Together with a setting of the traditional Latin hymn “Hodie Christus Natus Est” and a choral setting of part of Tchaikovsky’s ‘Nutcracker’ – we’ve got something in the concert for everyone.”

Doing extra duty for the holiday season is David Braceros, who is providing piano accompaniment for both choral groups and concerts.

“David is doing a yeoman’s job – with two completely different sets of repertoire to prepare” Nelson said.

            Tickets for both concerts are $8 in advance and $10 at the door. Advance tickets for the December 3 Merced College concert can be purchased at Gottschalks Music or at the college bookstore. Tickets may also be purchased one hour before the concert at the Theater Box Office.

Tickets for the Dec. 10 concert are available only at the Merced Multicultural Arts Center, 645 W Main Street, Merced. Both concerts will start at 8 pm.