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Bel Canto Chorus presents Christmas in the Basilica

Nov. 9, 2012

Bel Canto Chorus will present a festive concert of traditional carols, hymns, and exquisite seasonal music on Saturday, December 8, at 7:30 PM, and Sunday, December 9, at 3:00 PM and 6:30 PM, at the Basilica of Saint Josaphat. (2333 S. 6th St., Milwaukee, WI) “Christmas in the Basilica” also features organist Kevin Bailey, Bel Canto Boy Choirs and the Stained Glass Brass.

To purchase tickets ($50-$25), call the Box Office at (414) 481-8801 or visit www.belcanto.org. Senior, student, and group discounts are available.

John Rutter’s "Gloria," beloved carols and hymns, and the rich sounds of festive brass make for the perfect beginning to every family’s holiday season.

This season, titled “The Fine Art of Music”, Bel Canto incorporates a visual arts dimension to its performances by linking paintings, woodcuts, and sketches from The David Barnett Gallery to the musical repertoire performed at each concert. In addition, a Milwaukee artist will live paint during each concert, allowing patrons to witness a visual, as well as a musical, live performance.

The featured artwork for Christmas in the Basilica is Nativity Setting by Ruth Grotenrath: Milwaukee couple Ruth Grotenrath and Schomer Lichtner created thousands of paintings during their lives, including a whimsical collection of Christmas cards from the 1950s and 1960s. An exhibit of their Christmas silk screens will be on display before and after the concert, courtesy of the David Barnett Gallery.

This season marks Richard Hynson’s 25th anniversary season as Music Director of Bel Canto Chorus. Since 2006, Hynson has also served as Music Director of the Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra. In addition to his work as a conductor and educator, Hynson is a composer. He has written a substantial body of published choral, vocal, and ensemble works, many of which he has recorded with Bel Canto Chorus singers. The U.S. Air Force Singing Sergeants have frequently performed Hynson’s “In the Midst of Life”, composed in response to the events of September 11.

Formed in 1931, Bel Canto Chorus is Southeastern Wisconsin’s longest continuously performing arts organization. It is made up of mostly volunteer singers from southeastern Wisconsin and northeastern Illinois. Under the direction of Richard Hynson, the chorus opened its 81st season on Sunday afternoon, September 11, 2011 with “United We Stand” in Cathedral Square park. This free concert marking the tenth anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks featured Mozart’s Requiem and Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” with the Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra. “The chorus sang with force and assurance, easily separating the complex vocal lines… and following Hynson's judicious phrasing in when to hold back and when to let go.” (David Lewellen, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

The Bel Canto Boy Choirs were formed in August 2009, under the direction of Ellen M. Shuler. As Milwaukee’s only boy choirs, the groups consist of talented boys with changed and unchanged voices. For their first concert of the 2011-2012 season, the boy choirs performed with the Chorknaben Uetersen from Germany at Mequon United Methodist Church in July 2011.

Stained Glass Brass is comprised of five full-time professional musicians who perform sacred music that has stood the test of time for the past five centuries. They have regularly performed with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Florentine Opera Orchestra, Milwaukee Ballet Orchestra, Skylight Opera Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Brass Ensemble among many other ensembles throughout the mid-west.

Kevin Bailey is the Director of Worship and Music at Fox Point Lutheran Church, where he is organist and choir director. He is a graduate of Augustana College (IL) and Indiana University. His principal teachers for organ have been Tom Robin Harris and Christopher Young, and he studied church music and improvisation with Marilyn Keiser. He has accompanied and conducted choirs at Anderson University (IN) and served as choir director and organist at several churches in Indiana before moving to Milwaukee in 2003. Bailey remains active outside the church as an accompanist and continuo performer, and served as the accompanist for the Master Singers of Milwaukee from 2004 to 2008.

Established in 1966, the David Barnett Gallery is Wisconsin’s premier gallery and has the broadest range of art available in any Wisconsin gallery, including works of art that represent more than 600 artists. The gallery specializes in European and American masters, regional and nationally recognized artists, and “emerging” Wisconsin artists. Latin American, Asian, and African American artists also adorn the gallery along with Ethnographic art from Africa, Indonesia, and Oceania. The gallery has a national reputation for its extensive collection of Picasso ceramics and Milton Avery oil paintings. In addition, the David Barnett Gallery provides professional art consultation, appraisals, restoration and conservation, framing, lighting, custom giclée printing, delivery, and installation services.

The Basilica of St. Josaphat, located at 2333 S. 6th Street in the Lincoln Village neighborhood of Milwaukee, is one of 62 minor basilicas in the United States. Its grandeur and opulence is an excellent example of the “Polish Cathedral” style of church architecture found in the Great Lakes region of North America. Modeled after St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, it features one of the largest copper domes in the world. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a designated Milwaukee Landmark.

For additional information contact Marla Hahn, Interim Executive Director, at (414) 481-8801.

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