Songs and music of the Baroque era will grace the First Baptist Church in Santa Maria on Saturday, during a joint Christmas concert featuring the Allan Hancock College Singers and Santa Maria Philharmonic Orchestra. 

"I'm feeling great," said Ann Lucas, director of the Allan Hancock College Singers, a 34-person mixed choir comprised entirely of Hancock College students. Ranging in ages, musical background and skill, Lucas said the diverse background presents an interesting dynamic when teaching and during performances.

"You have to pace what you are conveying to capture everyone," she said. "Some people have to learn some outright musical skills from ground zero, whereas others come in with a really solid background. The trick is to work with the material and work with the students in a way that a compromise is reached that results in a killer performance."

The Baroque-era concert is set to open with a rendition of Johann Sebastian Bach's "Orchestral Suite No. 1 in C Major" by the Philharmonic Orchestra. The College Singers will join the orchestral group for a performance of two choruses from Bach's "Cantata No. 140," Giovanni' Pergolesi's "Magnificat" and five choruses (including the well-known "Hallelujah" chorus) from part one of Handel's "Messiah."

"There's something about Baroque music and the Christmas season that seem to go together," Lucas said of the music selection, calling them congruent and complimentary. "Since it's early Christmas, it's not exactly Christmas-themed music, but it's appropriate to the time of the year — they're joyous, upbeat and feature Advent-season themes."

Tenor Beau Claverie said he joined the choir with little prior experience and credits Lucas with his development as a singer.

"It was a really interesting experience to find out new things with my voice," he said. "I took choir once in high school as a junior but had no idea that I was actually a tenor."

Morgan Quitugua, an alto who did choir in high school, said she enjoys Lucas' class for both the technical and social aspect of the work. 

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"It's been a really good experience and helps you come out of your shell," she said. "It made me feel more confident in myself as a person."

With the performance date nearing, Lucas is confident in the College Singers' preparation. According to her, she has yet to call for emergency rehearsals and complimented their performance. Despite Lucas' words, Quitugua and Claverie express a degree of nervousness about their delivery.

"You think you won't, but you always end up," Quitugua said. "Once the music turns on, I try and forget about everything else. All I want to focus on is to make the music sound as amazing as we're taught to."

Mathew Burciaga covers education in Santa Maria and the surrounding area for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @math_burciaga

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