Choral Ensemble of Chicago | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Choral Ensemble of Chicago 

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The Choral Ensemble of Chicago has been around for almost three decades, and as its many fans well know the quality of its singing is uneven. But the Christmas program seems to bring out the best in the group. This season the fare is once again an assortment of holiday carols and hymns: sections from Gounod's Saint Cecilia Mass for tenor solo and chorus, his arrangement of Bach's "Ave Maria," an excerpt from Saint-Saens' Christmas Oratorio, and of course a selection from Handel's Messiah. Also on the program is the Italian carol "Tu scendi dalle stelle" ("You have descended from the stars"), in a new arrangement by James Mack, the veteran tunesmith who also heads the humanities department at the City Colleges of Chicago. Accompanying the chorus in this performance will be Mack and Kaye Clements on recorders and Marsha Labella on the harp. Featured vocalists are sopranos Karyn Stewart and Claire Yashar, tenor Edward Ozaki, veteran mezzo Phyllis Unosawa, and baritone Robert Smith. The New City Mexican Youth Choir will also be performing. George Estevez, the ensemble's founder, conducts. Sunday, 3:30 PM, St. Pauls United Church of Christ, 2335 N. Orchard; 935-3800.

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