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Celebrating the season with music

The wide variety of music offered by the West Linn Community Chorus appeals to everyone
by: Vern Uyetake, 
 An ensemble of the West Linn Community Chorus sings the traditional “White Christmas” at Monday night’s meeting of the West Linn City Council to remind local residents of their December concerts at Marylhurst University.

The 70-member West Linn Community Chorus is preparing its 'Musical Gift to the Community,' and will offer concerts at several venues to bring in the season of joy.

Two of the venues where the chorus will share its talents during hour-long concerts will be in the acoustical and resonant St. Anne's Chapel at Marylhurst University, between West Linn and Lake Oswego. Those concerts are scheduled for Dec. 7 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 15 at 2 p.m. The group also will be featured in the same venue on five pieces during a Dec. 8 pops concert of the Marylhurst Symphony beginning at 7 p.m.

The community chorus, which includes Lake Oswego residents, also will be on stage in Portland at the Grotto's Festival of Lights Dec. 10 at 7 p.m.

But before all of those concerts, a bit of these vocalists' talents can be heard and felt Saturday at 6:30 p.m. at the annual tree lighting at the West Linn City Hall, 22500 Salamo Road.

The chorus' musical gift to the community is the joy that this variety of seasonal music offers those who appreciate great talent.

And variety is the key word.

Included are contemporary tunes such as a jazz version of 'Santa Claus is Coming to Town' as well as a Russian Orthodox piece sung in the native language. The wide variety also includes the traditional Ukrainian 'Carol of the Bells' sung in the oft-heard way along with a jazz version.

A highlight of the full-length concert, according to Director Jim Nichols, is 'A Musicological Journey Through the Twelve Days of Christmas,' which means that every movement of the piece is written in a different time period of the history of music.

The opening movement sounds like Gregorian chant, according to assistant director Rhodd Caldwell, and as the movements make their way through history toward the present day (with styles reminiscent of Wagner, Brahms and Mozart), the final movement is a march by John Philip Sousa.

'People will recognize a lot of this. The piano accompaniment will be reminiscent of classical pieces they've heard all their lives,' Caldwell said. 'And the way that is dovetailed with the lyrics of 'Twelve Days of Christmas' is really quite nice.

'This will be a celebration of American music that is quite diverse in its content.'

The program also includes excerpts from 20th century composer Randall Thompson's 'Frostiana' and the Orthodox liturgical setting for Rachmaninoff's long and multifaceted 'Vespers/All Night Vigil.'

Looking at the concert from a distance one would see a combination of joyful and meditative, sacred and secular music for both Hanukkah and Christmas.

Also included is a segment of sing-along. The audience will blend its collective voice in familiar holiday favorites with the chorus, comprised of singers from all over the metro area.

'We are offering a wide variety of music,' Caldwell said. 'There'll be something for everybody.'

'We are trying to reach out to everybody in the community,' said chorus member Greg Swanson. 'It's our gift to the community. Come to St. Anne's Chapel and listen to us. In spite of its size, it feels like a very intimate space.'

The chorus' gift to the community includes free admission to seniors over 64, youths under 18, students, people with disabilities, military personnel, teachers, school employees and city employees of the cities of West Linn, Lake Oswego and Oregon City.

Others will be asked for a $7 donation to the chorus, and tickets are available at the door.

For more information, visit www.westlinncommunitychorus.org.