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North Island Choral Society Christmas concerts upcoming in Courtenay

The North Island Choral Society presents ‘A Christmas Greeting’ on Dec. 1 and Dec. 2 at St. George’s United Church in Courtenay. Photo supplied.

Sleighbells, church bells, monks, angels, shepherds – these are some of the joyous sounds that will be reflected in “A Christmas Greeting,” presented by the North Island Choral Society.

Artistic director Paul Colthorpe has chosen an eclectic mix of choral and orchestral music that spans four centuries and takes the listener from the Baroque through the Romantic, and on to the 20th century.

“It’s fascinating to sing a program with such a diverse set of pieces,” says soprano Jo-Anne Preston. “Each one is unique and beautiful, and as a singer, it’s great to be challenged to sing in such a variety of styles.”

NICS will be joined in this journey by four fine soloists, locals Jennifer Rasor, Sophie Simard and Orlando Wiebe, plus Nanaimo’s Michael MacKinnon. The oldest work is Antonio Vivaldi’s Magnificat, a song of praise to God.

Hector Berlioz’s warm Shepherd’s Farewell employs sweet harmonies to depict the story of the shepherds saying good-bye to the baby Jesus.

Francis Poulenc’s Hodie Christus Natus Est is based on a hymn sung by Gregorian monks in the Middle Ages, but with a decidedly contemporary twist!

The most dramatic work is Gerald Finzi’s In Terra Pax, which tells the story of the angels’ appearance to the shepherds, telling them of the birth of the baby Jesus. The baritone soloist is the voice of the narrator, the soprano is the angel, and the choir sings the well- known biblical story. And this “Christmas Greeting” is not just about singing. The NICS orchestra will delight the audience with A Musical Sleighride by Leopold Mozart, the father of Wolfgang Amadeus.

“A Christmas Greeting” will be performed at St. George’s United Church at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 1, and at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 2. Tickets (cash only) are available at the Blue Heron Books (Comox) and Benjamin Moore House of Colour (Courtenay).