The Nova Singers present “A Nova Christmas" -- December 13 and 14.

Friday, December 13, 7:30 p.m.

St. Paul Lutheran Church, 2136 Brady Street, Davenport IA

Saturday, December 14, 7:30 p.m.

First Lutheran Church, 364 East Water Street, Galesburg IL

An annual holiday-music tradition returns to the area as the professional vocal ensemble the Nova Singers presents its latest A Nova Christmas concerts, with exciting and moving arrangements of non-secular, classical, traditional, and contemporary holiday favorites performed December 13 at Davenport's St. Paul Lutheran Church and December 14 at Galesburg's First Lutheran Church.

Founded in 1986 by Knox College's music-department chair Dr. Laura Lane, who continues to serve as the group's music director, the Nova Singers gathers vocalists from across Western Illinois and Eastern Iowa who share common interests in expressive virtuosity, professional excellence, and community outreach. Ten albums have also been recorded by the Nova Singers over the years – including the holiday-music releases Mystery & Light, Behold a Star, and Mid-Winter – and the 2019 Nova Christmas program includes audience favorites such as “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” “Deck the Halls,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and “Away in a Manger,” as well as lesser-known pieces such as “The Huron Carol” and “Sussex Carol” and seasonal songs from Africa, Russia, Estonia, and Puerto Rico.

Says Lane of this December's repertoire, “This may be the most varied and fun Christmas program we have ever done. I absolutely love every single piece and am especially excited to share with audiences the carols that are brand new. 'There Is No Rose of Such Virtue,' by Robert Young, is sweet, gentle, loving, and nostalgic all at the same time. 'The Deer’s Cry' has a story behind it that is ancient, mystical and haunting – I can’t wait to tell the story in the concert! The Estonian piece 'Ohtul' is utterly gorgeous and features our fantastic tenor section at the end, and everyone will love hearing again the extraordinary 'Otche Nash' by Russian master Golovanov, with its huge climax and its super-low bass notes! And one of my favorite new pieces this year is 'Ndikhokhele Bawo' by South African composer Michael Barrett, who was here last year to coach us on his South African traditional songs. This one builds gradually with a traditional melody that is unforgettable and deeply moving.”

This year’s Nova Christmas concerts also feature pianist Casey Dierlam, who will accompany the ensemble in three songs. A graduate of Indiana State University who earned her master’s in piano from the University of Illinois-Urbana, Dierlan teaches piano at Knox College and is accompanist with the Knox College Choir. She also performs as a professional pianist around the world and was the featured guest pianist with the Knox-Galesburg Symphony last spring. The Nova Singers ensemble itself, meanwhile, boasts 19 active members, many of them familiar to patrons of Quad City Music Guild and Opera Quad Cities: Jeffrey Bass, Keri Bass, Pat Burr, Pier Debes, Anne Earel, Pam Edwards, Hillary Erb, Dane Feenstra, Curtsi Fischer-Oelschlaeger, Brian Katz, Joel Kolander, Sarah Lounsberry, Eric Misfeldt, Lori Potts, Marie Putman, Emily Shenk De-May, River Stanford, Michael Wahlmann, and Jenny Winn.

A Nova Christmas will be performed at Davenport's St. Paul Lutheran Church on December 13 and Galesburg's First Lutheran Church on December 14, both concerts start at 7:30 p.m., and admission is $17-20 with students admitted free. For more information and tickets, call (309)341-7038 or visit NovaSingers.com.

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