SALT LAKE CHILDREN'S CHOIR, Libby Gardner Concert Hall, Friday, May 18; Additional performance Saturday, May 19, 7:30 p.m. Tickets available through ArtTix at 355-ARTS (2787).

There is probably nothing more delightful than hearing the Salt Lake Children's Choir sing. Their pure, innocent voices seem to bring new meaning to whatever they perform. And with someone as talented as Ralph Woodward as conductor, the results are nothing less than heavenly.

Woodward is an amazing conductor. He brings out the best in his young singers, no matter what they perform. And the choir's repertoire is, in fact, quite extensive, ranging from the Renaissance to folk music to Woodward's own compositions.

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At this weekend's concerts, the Salt Lake Children's Choir sings several of Woodward's pieces. Woodward is an accomplished composer, whose music is melodic and thoroughly enjoyable. His setting of Psalm 23, for example, is an inspirational work that brings out the beauty of the text. "A Day in Spring," a touchingly simple and effective song, and one of Woodward's loveliest pieces, has become the signature tune of the Salt Lake Children's Choir.

The children also sang a large group of folk melodies from around the world, including Slovakia, Taiwan, Bulgaria and Namibia — all sung with characteristic flair and charm by the choir. An audience favorite was the rhythmic and vivacious Mexican song "Las Amarillas."

Art songs by Brahms, Schubert and Mendelssohn were also on the program, as were two pieces from the Renaissance — an "Osanna in excelsis" by Palestrina and the "Miserere" by Antonio Lotti.

Zoltan Kodaly's "Mountain Nights," which opened the second half of the program, is an expressive, ethereal vocalise, which the children sang exquisitely. And Joaquin Rodrigo's "De los alamos vengo," a light, spirited piece, was sung with enthusiasm and rhythmic vitality.


E-mail: ereichel@desnews.com