PENDLETON — The Oregon East Symphony will help ring in the season as they present the annual Holiday Music Festival.

Billed as an ecumenical celebration of the holidays through song, the program features several ensembles, including the Oregon East Symphony and Chorale, Our Songs Are Alive, and the Pendleton Men’s Chorus. The event is Saturday, Dec. 14 at 7:30 p.m. in the Vert Auditorium, 480 S.W. Dorion Ave., Pendleton. Tickets are $25 for adults, $20/seniors, $15/students or $65 for a family of four.

The Oregon East Symphony and Chorale will perform German baroque composer Heinrich Schütz’s Nativity setting, “The Christmas Story.” Composed later in Schütz’s life, it was designed to be performed by a chorale and chamber orchestra.

According to historical accounts, the work was virtually lost for more than two centuries after the composer’s death in 1672. In 1908, Arnold Schering discovered the choruses and interludes, which led to a resurgence of interest.

The symphony’s chorale will perform a version arranged in 1949 by baroque musicologist Arthur Mendel for his vocal ensemble The Cantata Singers, said J.D. Kindle, OES executive director. Featured soloists include: sopranos Regina Braker, Lezlee Flagg and Karen Lange; tenors Norm Baton and Chris Leonard; and bass Bill Mayclin.

Our Songs Are Alive, from the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, will perform a variety of traditional and modern songs. Audience members will be treated to the straight war dance, the circle dance, the fast and fancy dance, and the round-bustle dance, a genre that tribes from the Columbia Plateau are well known for, Kindle said.

Accompanying the musicians will be dancers in regalia intended for each type of song. In addition, tribal member Charles Wood III will showcase a selection of songs performed on the hand drum as presented on his recently released debut album, “Honest to You.”

Also, this year’s performance by Our Songs Are Alive will feature numerous youth dancers. Fred Hill Sr., a powwow emcee and fluent speaker of Umatilla, coordinates the group.

“If I hadn’t had encouragement from my grandparents to sing and dance, I don’t believe I’d be doing what I am today,” Hill said. “We always appreciate the invitation to perform and it gives us a lot of pride to watch our children sing and dance and carry on our traditions.”

The evening will crescendo with the Pendleton Men’s Chorus, which includes voices of all ages. Their portion of the program will include “Be A Santa,” which was arranged by the late Pendleton-based opera singer Quade Winter; “There Is Faint Music” by Dan Forrest; “Brightest and Best” arranged by Shawn Kirchner; and a contemporary arrangement of the Gregorian chant Media Vita.

“Media Vita is the oldest work that the Pendleton Men’s Chorus has ever performed,” said director Bill Mayclin. “The first line of the chant written in Latin, ‘Media vita in morte sumus,’ translates to ‘In the midst of life we are in death.’”

To purchase tickets, visit www.oregoneastsymphony.org, stop by the OES office, 345 S.W. Fourth St., Pendleton, or Pendleton Art + Frame, 36 S.W. Court Ave. For questions, contact 541-276-0320 or info@oregoneastsymphony.org.

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Contact Community Editor Tammy Malgesini at tmalgesini@eastoregonian.com or 541-564-4539.

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