Down East Singers, directed by Anthony Antolini, will perform a cornucopia of choral works by San Francisco composer Kirke Mechem during a two-concert series. Concerts will be Friday, Dec. 10 at 7:30 p.m. at Second Congregational Church, 252 Main St., Warren; and Sunday, Dec. 12 at 2:30 p.m. at Camden Opera House, 29 Elm St./Route 1, Camden. The concerts will feature Mechem’s “Christmas Past and Christmas Present”; “Birthdays in Round Numbers” (humorous musical birthday cards for every age group from 10 to 70); and “The Seven Joys of Christmas,” which includes both familiar and little known Christmas carols from around the world. The program will open with Joel Raney’s high-spirited “Thou Shalt Know Him When He Comes,” a favorite of former Down East singer Tom Bertocci of Thomaston, in whose memory these concerts are presented.

The concerts also will introduce a new 20-voice auditioned group from within the membership of Down East Singers. This choir will perform “Ants Moving a Mountain” by Portland composer Nathan Kolosko. Sung in Taiwanese and scored for piano, voices and percussion, the song is a setting of a poem by the Taiwanese poet Xie An-Tong that makes use of the tonal aspects of the Taiwanese language and includes a quote from a Taiwanese aboriginal song.  The choir also will sing “Also hat Gott die Welt geliebt” (For God so loved the world) by early Baroque composer Heinrich Schütz; and 20th-century Austrian composer Franz Biebl’s hauntingly romantic “Ave Maria.”

Mechem, 85, is a prolific composer with a catalogue of more than 250 works. He enjoys an international presence, with concert performances of his music in 42 countries. Born and raised in Kansas and educated at Stanford and Harvard Universities, Mechem conducted and taught at Stanford University and served as composer-in-residence for several years at the University of San Francisco. Mechem also has lived in Europe, spending three years in Vienna, where he came to the attention of Josef Krips, who later championed the composer’s symphonies as conductor of the San Francisco Symphony. He has been honored and recognized for his works from such organizations as the United Nations, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Gallery, the American Choral Directors Association and the Music Educators National Conference. He was presented with a lifetime achievement award from the National Opera Association.

Tickets are $15, free for students younger than 19. Tickets may be purchased online at, from members of the group or at the door. For more information about Down East Singers’ December concerts, visit the Web site; send e-mail to; or call 236-8328.

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail to