Ryan Chartrand

As the holiday season nears so will the sounds of the San Luis Obispo Vocal Arts Ensemble, a local chorus that features music from the late medieval period through the early Renaissance as well as work from some modern composers.

Concerts will be performed at 8 p.m. Dec. 1 at Mission San Luis Obispo and at 3 p.m. Dec. 2 at the Performing Arts Center, which will feature the Forbes Pipe Organ.

Student tickets are being sold for $13, and the concert at the Performing Arts Center will have a special student rush. Students with a valid ID who arrive there 30 minutes prior to the beginning of the concert will be eligible to purchase tickets for $5.

“It’s wonderful music, the student rush is a deal and you get to hear the Forbes Pipe Organ,” Cal Poly professor and choir member Brian Lawler said.

The choir has been singing for 31 years and has competed and placed in world-class competitions in locations such as Austria, Canada and Wales. The chorus is composed of 55 men and women, and directed by Gary Lamprecht.

The Vocal Arts Youth Choir – a newly formed choir composed of individuals ranging in age from 16 to 26 – will join the Vocal Arts Ensemble this holiday season.

The choir will be singing to music by composers such as Josquin des Pres from the 15th century, a piece composed by both Nathan Gounod, who used work from Johann Sebastian Bach and David Willcocks, a 19th-century composer.

The choir has been practicing for the concerts since July and will be performing all the pieces from memory under strict direction from Lamprecht.

“We’re really good, and students will get the chance to hear fantastic music,” Lawler said.

The first concert at the mission will be a smaller venue, and the audience may enjoy a more religious experience because of the location.

“A lot of people will like the concert at the mission because of a certain spiritual feeling that is more old and earthy,” said Elaine Genasci, the Vocal Arts Ensemble executive director.

The second concert at the Performing Arts Center will be in a larger venue and have a different sound because of the Forbes Pipe Organ.

The organ has 2,767 pipes and took eight weeks to build. It also required two people working 12 hours per day over nine months to tune. It was first used in a concert this past June and will be played in this concert by Vocal Arts Ensemble accompanist Barbara Hoff.

“The concerts themselves are a nice way to start off the holiday season,” Genasci said.

Tickets for the mission performance and special seats at the Performing Arts Center performance can be purchased online at www.vocalarts.org or by calling 541-6797. The special student-discount tickets must be purchased at the door.

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