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Choral performance rings in Christmas
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‘Christmas Wishes’
A concert by Voices of North Georgia
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Where:  St. Paul United Methodist Church, 404 Washington St., Gainesville
How much: $15 adults, $12 seniors and students, $5 children 11 and younger

As the decorations and Christmas trees began to emerge earlier this week, it started to feel a lot more like Christmas.

But there’s nothing like a concert, filled with traditional hymns and carols, to really get you into the holiday spirit.

Members of the Voices of North Georgia hope to do just that with the group’s annual concert, “Christmas Wishes,” on Friday and Saturday at St. Paul United Methodist Church in Gainesville.

Selections for the concert include a variety of traditional tunes — “Angels We Have Heard On High,” “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” to name just a few — along with some tunes that may not be that familiar but are no less beautiful.

For example, audiences can hear the suite “Carols and Lullabies: Christmas in the Southwest” by Conrad Susa, which is a collection of carol arrangements that tell the story of the nativity.

Melanie Johnson, the group’s president-elect, said the collection of songs adds another dimension to the holiday music.

“It’s nice because it’s not anything we’ve ever done before,” she said, adding that the songs were written in Spanish. The chorus will sing all but one of the verses in English.

“It’s nice to do something from another culture because it’s absolutely beautiful,” she said.

The choral ensemble will be accompanied by harpist Kathy Smith, guitarist Dusty Woodruff, pianist Bill Schmid and percussionist Chuck McKissick.

Some of the traditional carols will be sung with different arrangements, Johnson added.

For example, “The First Noel” uses an arrangement inspired from a concert Nunley saw a few years ago.

“It really is beautiful,” Johnson said. “Most of the Christmas carols you’ve heard so many times, but when we started singing this one, I was just floored.”

The concert will wrap up with a rousing version of G.F. Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus.”

Even if you think you’ve heard every Christmas song hundreds of times, Johnson said there is still a new twist. And seeing the music performed live makes it even more interesting.

“Even if (audiences) think they know the songs, they’re in for a surprise,” Johnson said. “And especially with the carols and lullabies, I think they’ll be surprised.”

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