I won't pretend I know how to expertly dissect an a cappella choral album. However, I recall the feeling of belting out "Weep O Mine Eyes" as an alto for the Hellgate High School choir many years ago. Even as a punk rock-inclined kid, hearing that resonating flood of voices as snow fell outside the classroom window was just about as spiritual as any Social Distortion ballad.
That's how it is listening to the live album from Missoula's a cappella group Dolce Canto, led by Peter Park (a Hellgate choir alum himself). It's not necessarily a seasonal recording though it includes Carolyn Hanney's "Christmas Angel." Songs from Argentina, Scotland, the Philippines and the Czech Republic give the album diversity even if "Three Australian Bush Songs" is a little crazy with the onslaught of birdcalls. Soloists like Caitlin Shipp and Malcolm Lowe stand out. "The Fall" adds humor to a strikingly beautiful chorus that sounds like accompaniment to leaves falling. "Earth Song" is the most magnetic piece, where the group seems most precise—even supernatural—in the way its voices rise and fall in yearning waves singing, "Through darkness and pain and strife, I'll sing."
That song's about peace in wartime, and works well during a good snowfall—as well as any other time of year.
Dolce Canto performs at the Missoula Art Museum Friday, Dec. 3, at 6 PM and 7 PM. Free.