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"A North Dakota Christmas," this year’s free holiday celebration presented by the Bismarck-Mandan Civic Chorus, will take place at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in Bismarck.

“Civic Chorus members have spent the last several months preparing this show-stopping concert, which includes traditional audience favorites such as ‘Good Christian Men, Rejoice,’ ‘It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,’ ‘O Come All Ye Faithful,’ ‘The Little Drummer Boy,’ and ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,’” said Tom Porter, chorus director.

Joining the Civic Chorus on will be sixth-grade choirs from Wachter Middle School, under the direction of Desiree Bondley. On Sunday, Simle Middle School choirs, under the direction of James McMahon and Jacy Walker, will perform.

“Members of the chorus look forward to the selections that blend younger voices with the adult choir, and the concert gives these talented children a chance to sing in a new and beautiful venue,” Porter said.

The concert also will feature Chuck Suchy, well-known songwriter and folksinger from Mandan, and a string quartet of principal players from the Bismarck-Mandan Symphony Orchestra, Everaldo Martinez, Tara Bohlen, Quinn Karges and Natalia Vacarciuc.

To celebrate the 40th season of the Civic Chorus, the concert will feature a mini-history of the music it has offered to the public. The program includes a throwback to the first concert when J.S. Bach’s “Christmas Oratorio” was performed with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. Another selection, “Within My Heart,” was composed and prepared by Bill Franke, member of the BMCC since 1981 and director of the chorus from 1987 to 1991. “E’en So, Lord Jesus, Quickly Come” was programmed on the first BMCC concert directed by Porter, who is celebrating his 25th season with the chorus.

Since its inception, the chorus has expanded from a single concert to a season with a number of concert events. This year in addition to the Christmas and spring concerts, there will be a Valentine’s-themed concert, Songs for the Sweet: Love Songs and Romance, on Feb. 13 at the North Dakota Heritage Center.

“The annual Bismarck-Mandan Civic Chorus Concert is for many people the start of the holiday season,” Porter said. “It is a beautifully sung program in a remarkable architectural and acoustic church, the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit. The concert is an opportunity for people to set aside the frantic pace of December, relax and allow the music to wash over and refresh them.”