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Desert Chorale’s Second Group Debuts for Holidays

SANTA FE, N.M. — The Santa Fe Desert Chorale’s Winter Festival 2011 offers something old and something new.

Music director Joshua Habermann) will present five performances of the group’s annual “Carols and Lullabies” concert at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi and Cristo Rey Church in Santa Fe and at Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Albuquerque. He’s also asked a select group of singers to showcase the chorale’s annual evening of festive holiday songs titled “The Lighter Side of Christmas” at LewAllen Galleries at the Railyard.

What’s brand new for the organization is the formation of Desert Chorale II, consisting of former and present singers and students at the University of New Mexico, and its debut concerts in Santa Fe and Albuquerque during “Winter Festival 2011.”

If you go
WHAT: Santa Fe Desert Chorale’s Winter Festival 2011
WHEN: Dec. 16-30
WHERE: Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, Cristo Rey Church, Loretto Chapel and LewAllen Galleries at the Railyard in Santa Fe and at Immanuel Presbyterian Church and Albuquerque Museum of Art and History in Albuquerque.
COST: $20-$75; A Holiday Gift concert on Dec. 26 at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi is free but requires a ticket.
CONTACT: 505-988-1234 or

“I helped conceive of and plan Desert Chorale II,” Habermann said. “It’s the educational arm of the Desert Chorale and a training program for singers. There isn’t any kind of training program for singers outside of university settings, so this group fills a niche. Desert Chorale II will give the organization a year-round presence in the community by presenting its own concerts and working with kids in the schools.”

“Winter Festival 2011” kicks off with “Carols and Lullabies,” which features traditional early music, Renaissance motets and contemporary arrangements of holiday songs performed by the ensemble’s 24 singers. Audience members will hear songs and carols including “Go Tell it on the Mountain,” “Rise Up Shepherd and Follow,” “I Saw Three Ships,” “Joy to the World” and “The Wexford Carol.” Among the contemporary works on the program are “A Rose in the Middle of Winter” by Bob Chilcott and “O Magnum Mysterium” by Kevin Memley. Habermann will present the 80-minute performance without intermission.

“The Lighter Side of Christmas” will feature upbeat holiday tunes sung as solos, duets and trios. This festive performance, complete with champagne and a selection of hors d’oeuvres, will be directed by chorale singer and theatrical director Kathlene Ritch.

Singer, composer and UNM professor Bradley Ellingboe will direct Desert Chorale II in two different programs. “A Toast to the New Year” will be at Santa Fe’s Loretto Chapel and at the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History. It will feature “Misa Criolla,” a folk Mass composed by Argentine composer Ariel Ramirez in 1964. The group will perform “A Holiday Gift” in the Cathedral Basilica as a free, family-friendly performance.

“We’re excited to introduce Desert Chorale II to the community,” said Habermann, who lives in Dallas and also directs the Dallas Symphony Chorus. “Because ticket sales have been so great, the Desert Chorale is able to offer ‘A Holiday Gift’ concert at no charge to the community. That’s our way of saying thank you to Santa Fe.”