Annual Chorale tradition features new date, new venue this year

Annual Chorale tradition features new date, new venue this year

URBANA — If you're a fan of the Chorale's New Year's Eve show at the Virginia Theatre, don't go looking for it there on Dec. 31.

Because of renovations at the vintage theater, which is closed until April, the community chorus will have its New Year's Eve gala at 7 p.m. Dec. 30, not New Year's Eve, and at the Vineyard Church in Urbana.

"We're spreading the word so that everyone learns about the changes that we have had to make for this year," Chorale director and founder Julie Beyler said in a news release. "We have a great show planned for this year's 'Nearly New Year's Eve.'

"And thanks to the Vineyard Church, we have a performance venue that will hold everyone who comes."

The church, at 1500 N. Lincoln Ave., U, has a large auditorium with excellent sound and light equipment, comfortable seats and plenty of parking nearby, Beyler said.

Joining the Chorale for this year's celebration, "Winter Around the World," will be former Chorale scholarship winners Molly Netter and Derek Maninfior, the strings section of the Urbana Pops Orchestra and Eve Harwood, who will lead the traditional singalong.

The Chorale will perform secular and nonsecular seasonal music including holiday songs from Africa, Ireland and Mexico, in addition to American show tunes such as "Let It Snow" and "Home for the Holidays."

The mixed-voice chorus also will perform "O Magnum Mysterium" by Morten Lauridsen, which since its debut in 1994 has become a favorite of many choral ensembles.

Among other pieces on the program is one that combines Johann Pachelbel's Canon with a well-known child's carol; a Spanish lullaby; and John Rutter's "What Sweeter Music."

"Many who don't know much about Rutter's music might remember it was he who composed a special choral number for the royal wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William," Beyler said.

Netter, who won a Chorale scholarship in 2006, graduated from Oberlin Conservatory in vocal performance and is a first-year student at the Yale School of Music in the Early Music, Oratorio and Chamber Ensemble program. She will perform George Gershwin's "By Strauss" as well as some of the great standards from the American Songbook.

Maninfior, who received a Chorale scholarship in 2008, graduated from Eastern Illinois University in piano performance and is a graduate student at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University.

"Derek is a powerful pianist, gifted with a sensitive touch which he will demonstrate in the Rachmaninoff piece he has chosen to play," Beyler said.

Started in 2010, the Urbana Pops Orchestra is a 65-piece ensemble of music educators, college music majors, seasoned community musicians and talented youths. At the Chorale concert, the strings section will perform classical pieces, among them an arrangement of "Greensleeves" featuring Pops harpist Katherine Denler.

The ensemble also will play an original piece titled "Air for Four Musicians" by the orchestra's principal conductor, Daniel F. Southerland, and a new arrangement of J.S. Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" by associate conductor Stephen L. Larson. Denler also will be featured in a performance of a new concerto for harp and strings by Kyle de Tarnowsky.

"We were thrilled to be asked to be guest artists at the Chorale's winter concert, particularly as they celebrate their 30th season," Urbana Pops board president Debra Levey Larson said in a news release. "We share many of the same goals as Chorale — performing popular, accessible music and a passion for providing opportunities for talented youth musicians — so this is a very natural collaboration."

Harwood has led the singalong before when the late Dan Perrino was unable. For years he led the singalong; the popular former University of Illinois administrator died on Aug. 17 at age 91.


If you go

What: The Chorale's New Year's Eve show, with the theme "Winter Around the World," featuring guest artists Molly Netter, Derek Maninfior, the strings section of the Urbana Pops Orchestra and Eve Harwood leading the singalong

When: 7 p.m. Dec. 30

Where: Vineyard Church, 1500 N. Lincoln Ave., U

Tickets: $22 for adults; $20 for seniors 55 and older (available at Champaign Park District's Bresnan Center, 706 Kenwood Road, C;; 398-2550; and at the door)

Note: Proceeds go to the Chorale's Young Artist Scholarship fund.

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