ST. CHARLES – The St. Charles Singers, recently hailed by American Record Guide as “a national treasure,” will present the 36th annual "Candlelight Carols" program in early December in St. Charles and Chicago.

A Yuletide tradition since the choir’s founding, the holiday concerts will, for the first time, feature seasonal songs grouped by the themes of mystery, joy, hope and wonder, Jeffrey Hunt, founder and music director of the professional chamber choir, stated in a news release.

The mixed-voice ensemble of nearly 40 singers will explore mystery through John Tavener’s “O Mary Theotokos,” Kenneth Leighton’s “Lully, Lulla, Thou Little Tiny Child,” Jan Vander Roost’s arrangement of “The Silver Stars,” Philip Ledger’s arrangement of “Adam Lay Ybounden,” Richard Lloyd’s “Love Came Down at Christmas” and Simon Preston’s “There Is No Rose.”

Hope and wonder will be represented by Peter Warlock’s “Benedicamus Domino,” Paul Edwards’ “No Small Wonder,” Percy Grainger’s “There Was a Pig Went Out to Dig,” the traditional “Children’s Song of the Nativity,” Mårten Janssen’s arrangement of “Est ist ein ros’ entsprungen,” Robert Boyd’s arrangement of “I Wonder as I Wander,” Ola Gjeilo’s arrangement of “Away in a Manger” and the traditional “Silent Night.”

Illustrating the theme of joy are John Gardner’s “A Gallery Carol” and “Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day,” David Willcocks' "O Come, All Ye Faithful,” John Rutter’s “Angels’ Carol,” Cecilia McDowall’s “Now May We Singen” and Ben Parry’s “Jingle Bells.”

Holiday voices

St. Charles Singers ensemble members will include sopranos Jeanne Fornari, Batavia; Ingrid Burrichter, Chicago; Marybeth Kurnat, DeKalb; Brittany Anderson, Elgin; Cynthia Spiegel, La Fox; Jennifer Gingrich and Meredith Taylor Du Bon, both of Naperville; AnDréa James and Jessica Palmisano, both of St. Charles; and Karen Lukose, Winfield.

Alto voices are Christina Collins, Arlington Heights; Margaret Fox and Valerie Heinkel-Bollero, both of Batavia; Allison Deady, Chicago; Julie Popplewell and Chelsea King, both of North Aurora; Bridget Kancler, Oak Park; Jennifer Hunt, St. Charles; Karen Archbold, Wheaton; and Debra Wilder, Wheeling.

The tenor section includes Brennan Runzo, Chicago; Brian Jozwiak, Crystal Lake; Rob Campbell, DeKalb; Bradley Staker, Elburn; Stephen Mollica, Evanston; Michael Popplewell and Gregor King, both of North Aurora; Nick Falco, Schaumburg; Aaron James, St. Charles; and David Hunt, Wayne.

Basses are Jess Koehn, Michael Thoms and Phil Nohl, all of Aurora; Brandon Fox, Batavia; Antonio Quaranta, Carol Stream; David Zemke, Gilberts; Andrew Toniolo, Glen Ellyn; and David Hartley, Lake in the Hills.

St. Charles Singers

The ensembleincludes professional and professionally trained singers, choral directors and voice instructors, some of whom perform with other top-tier Chicago choirs. has called the ensemble “one of North America’s outstanding choirs,” citing “charisma and top-notch musicianship” that “bring character and excitement to each piece.”

Among the St. Charles Singers’ prominent guest conductors have been English composer John Rutter, founder of the Cambridge Singers; Philip Moore, composer and former music director at England’s York Minster cathedral; and Grammy Award-winning American choir director Craig Hella Johnson. The choir launched in St. Charles in 1984 as the Mostly Madrigal Singers.

If you go

WHAT: St. Charles Singers presents "Candlelight Carols"

WHERE: Baker Memorial United Methodist Church, 307 Cedar Ave., St. Charles, and Fourth Presbyterian Church, 126 E. Chestnut St. at Michigan Avenue, Chicago

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6 and 3 p.m. Dec. 8 in St. Charles and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7 in Chicago

COST: $40 for adults, $35 for seniors 65 and older, and $10 for students

INFO:, 630-513-5272; tickets also at Townhouse Books, 105 N. Second Ave., St. Charles, with only checks or cash at the shop; and at the concert, depending on availability