Brady Allred

The Salt Lake Choral Artists will present their annual Christmas concert, "Laud to the Nativity," this coming Saturday.

The diverse program encompasses several composers and cultures.

"When I select a program, I like to introduce the choir and the community to gems they don't know," music director Brady Allred told the Deseret News.

Among these little-known holiday works Allred has programmed is Ottorino Respighi's cantata "Laud to the Nativity," from which the concert takes its name and which will be sung in English.

"Some purists might take exception to that," Allred said.

Language aside, the cantata is one of the most expressive works Respighi wrote. "His vocal writing is absolutely beautiful. It's in the bel canto style, very melismatic, and it needs a full-bodied vocal ensemble to do it justice."

One of the reasons Allred chose to do "Laud to the Nativity" this year is because he currently has a large number of men in the choir. "It calls for long sections of four-part male chorus, and this year, the number of men almost matches the number of women."

Roger Wagner was a great proponent of the piece, said Allred, who has conducted the work a number of times over the years. "I've done it in Pittsburgh several times but never here."

In addition to the chorus and an orchestra consisting of woodwinds and piano four hands, the score also calls for three vocal soloists. For this performance, the soloists will be soprano Carol Ann Allred; mezzo-soprano Laura Garff Lewis; and tenor Todd Miller.

Another work on Saturday's program that most concertgoers probably don't know is Argentinian composer Ariel Ramirez's "Navidad Nuestra."

"I've done his 'Misa Criolla' several times, and I'm hoping that his 'Navidad Nuestra' will become an audience favorite," Brady Allred said. Joining Miller for soloist duty in this piece will be baritone Gary Sorenson.

The concert will open with three movements from Serge Rachmaninoff's "All-Night Vigil," sung in Russian. The complete work will be performed by the Salt Lake Choral Artists and the University of Utah Singers under Allred next spring.

A holiday concert wouldn't be complete without the music of John Rutter. And the Choral Artists have programmed a couple of the English composer/conductor's works.

"The women's choir will be doing several movements from his 'Dancing Day,' and the full choir will sing 'Carols From Cambridge,'‚ÄČ" Allred said.

Besides this Saturday's concert, there will be two more concerts this season by the Salt Lake Choral Artists. Both start at 7:30 p.m. and take place in Libby Gardner Concert Hall.

Feb. 20, 2010: "Beatlemania," celebrating the music of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, with guests Get Back, a Beatles cover band, and the vocal ensemble T minus 5.

May 15, 2010: "Lux Aeterna," featuring Morten Lauridsens' "Lux Aeterna" and the premiere of Ray Shattenkirk's "One Light," a setting of five texts from the world's major religions that was commissioned by the Salt Lake Choral Artists.

If you go...

What: Salt Lake Choral Artists, music director Brady Allred

Where: Libby Gardner Concert Hall

When: Dec. 19, 7:30 p.m.

How much: $19.75 general admission, $15.75 senior citizens and students

Phone: 801-581-7100

Web: saltlakechoralartists.org

e-mail: [email protected]