Get in the holiday spirit with Chicago a cappella concerts

  • Chicago a cappella will perform "Holidays a cappella" concerts in December.

    Chicago a cappella will perform "Holidays a cappella" concerts in December. Courtesy of Chicago A Cappella

Posted10/18/2021 10:52 AM

Vocal ensemble Chicago a cappella paused in-person performances during the pandemic, but will return this season with "Holidays a cappella," a concert series featuring a new collection of musical gifts celebrating Christmas and Hanukkah.

Performances will take place during the first half of December in the city and suburbs.


"Holidays a cappella" is the first full Chicago a cappella concert since February 2020, and it is the first to be created by ensemble member Joe Labozetta, a member of the bass section who has sung with the group for nine years.

Of the six performances in the series, two will be performed at new locations this year. The Dec. 3 concert is the ensemble's first performance at St. Josaphat Church in Lincoln Park, where Labozetta serves as music director. Dec. 4 marks the ensemble's first concert performance in Highland Park at the Highland Park Community House.

Paul Nicholson returns as guest music director for "Holidays a cappella" for the third time. Nicholson is among Chicago's most respected choral musicians, as well as a vocal coach, accompanist, composer, and singer.

Performance schedule

The full schedule for "Holidays a cappella" is:

• Friday, Dec. 3: 8 p.m. at St. Josaphat Church, 2311 N. Southport Ave., Chicago

• Saturday, Dec. 4: 8 p.m. at Highland Park Community House, 1991 Sheridan Road, Highland Park

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• Sunday, Dec. 5: 4 p.m. at Community UMC, 20 Center St., Naperville

• Friday, Dec. 10: 8 p.m. at Fourth Presbyterian Church (Buchanan Chapel), 115 E. Delaware Place, Chicago

• Saturday, Dec. 11: 8 p.m. at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston

• Sunday, Dec. 12: 4 p.m. at Pilgrim Congregational, 460 Lake St., Oak Park

Program highlights

Program highlights include:

• Familiar Christmas carols in innovative a cappella arrangements: "O Come All Ye Faithful" (arranged by Pentatonix), "Jingle Bells," "We Three Kings," and "The Coventry Carol."

• Music arranged just for Chicago a cappella, including the spiritual "Sistah Mary" arranged by Rollo Dilworth (commissioned for the group's 15th anniversary in 2007), and a new arrangement of "I'll Be Home for Christmas" (arranged by Joe Labozetta).


• Music for Hanukkah, including two songs by former Evanston resident Robert Applebaum. Subscribers will get the chance to discuss the music with the composer in a virtual Listening Club event on Nov. 18.

• Stirring Christmas music from the Republic of Georgia. This is a specialty of Labozetta, who visited the country and studied its music.

• Holiday music from around the world, including selections from France, England, Estonia, Norway, Poland, Georgia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S.

• Performances by the ensemble in six languages (English, Latin, Hebrew, Polish, Spanish, and Georgian).

• A famous contemporary classical work, "Magnificat," by Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. This piece is probably the most famous example of the composer's personal compositional style, which he calls "tintinnabulum," after the sounds of bells.

In addition to the six live concert performances, there will be a live virtual event at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 20, featuring four members of the ensemble. It will include video performances from the concert, plus behind-the-scenes stories and even some live solo performances.

Single-concert and season tickets are on sale now. Tickets can be purchased online at Call (773) 281-7820 for details on season tickets.

About Chicago a cappella

Chicago a cappella is one of the Chicago area's most accomplished and innovative vocal ensembles. Spanning a repertoire from Gregorian chant to the Beatles and beyond, the group's vocal virtuosity and eclectic programs have earned a reputation for leadership in the choral field.

Founded in 1993, the 10-voice ensemble has been heard frequently on radio and has produced nine CD recordings, including releases on the Cedille, Centaur, and Gothic labels.

Chicago a cappella has been hailed as "the area's best unaccompanied group" (Chicago Magazine) and "the city's liveliest, most versatile vocal ensemble" (Chicago Tribune).

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