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Concordia concert a holiday treat

Those attending this year's multi-choir Concordia Christmas Concert should keep an eye on the vocalists on the left side of the stage. When they get the limelight, it's a pretty good bet that it's about to get fantastic. Not that there weren't st...

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Those attending this year's multi-choir Concordia Christmas Concert should keep an eye on the vocalists on the left side of the stage.

When they get the limelight, it's a pretty good bet that it's about to get fantastic.

Not that there weren't strong performances from every corner of the stage, but this choir's execution of "Lux Aurumque" is absolutely otherworldly at points. It features passages of fantastic deep and resonating dissonance achieved I know not how, as well as surpassingly beautiful soft harmonies.

Their "Our Father" hinted at Gregorian chant with just a dash of barbershop thrown in along with some strong church choir as the performers delivered a workshop on affective volume modulation.

On the whole, one might hope for a bit more of the blow-out-the-back-walls choral power in show. With more than 400 student musicians and vocalists, there was significant firepower in the house. But "Psalm 150" does manage to scratch the power itch quite nicely as the percussion section thunders and the vocalists dig in.

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And how can one really criticize what amounts to one intriguing and beautiful arrangement after another? The choir vocals are professional quality throughout. And on "Pie Jesu," the two female solo vocalists' harmonies blend and soar to the rafters.

There was no opportunity for boredom, either. The music ranged form Welsh to Celtic to Peruvian to Native American, and that's just the first page of the program.

"Noel" is the most fun number of the night. It calls to African influences and reminds one of slave call-back songs. The hand drum work and synchronized clapping are a rousing, celebratory change of pace. At the end of the number a "Wow!" and something like a yelp could be heard from the audience somewhat faintly. Sometimes things are so good even reserved Lutherans can't stay calm.

There is also some eye candy, of course, as thousands of lights were projected on the ceiling during "God Bless Ye Merry Gentlemen" and other tunes.

As for how it might be better, well, maybe it's time for a venue worthy of the gorgeous musical art it creates. The Memorial Auditorium is fine for a basketball game, as the hardwood floors and the retracted backboard and hoops make clear, but one could argue it lacks the polish worthy of what was on exhibit here tonight.

If you go

- What: Concordia Christmas Concert

- When: 3 and 8 p.m. today and 3 p.m. Sunday.

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- Where: Memorial Auditorium, Concordia College.

- Info: Call (218) 299-4515 for more info. Performances are also scheduled for Dec. 11 at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis. Call (800) 292-4141 for info on those shows.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Shane Mercer at (701) 451-5734

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