1Panaca resident Klark Black and his choir of more than 40 residents is preparing for their fourth annual community Christmas concert.

Black has taught choir and band classes in schools in Las Vegas, spending his last 10 years at Silverado High School. He also performed with Andre Bocelli in Las Vegas.

This year’s musical piece will be excerpts from “The Messiah.”

“It’s a classic piece. I wanted to expose my choir and the county to more music,” said Black.

He says there are a lot of people with talent and musical background in the county. Some of those musical individuals might quit after moving to a small town if there’s not something available. He said he wanted to make sure to provide more choral experience to residents.

The original “Messiah” piece, composed by George Handel in 1741, would take more than two and-a-half hours to perform. Black’s choir is performing specific pieces from the music for the first half of the show. The second part of the performance will have more traditional and newer pieces.

Young to old, there are many individuals participating in this years choir. Black said, “the balance isn’t as great as it should be,” and that they are always needing more men. “But you survive,” he said. One of the singers is as young as 12. A couple from Alamo journeys once a week for the practices. Residents of Caliente, Panaca and Pioche comprise the rest of the choir. All the performers are volunteers, and Black says they are always open to more members. “Anyone with musical experience,” Black says, “is invited to participate.”

Sharie Mathews and Karen Culverwell are the pianists for the event. Solos will be performed by Lara Heiselbetz, LCHS senior Kendall Thomas, and Dylan Frehner.

Many of the members in the Bella Voce choir are also members of the Little Off Broadway. Little Off Broadway usually holds fall performances. This leads Black to host spring and winter performances.

Marty Buschman, one of the local performances, said, “We’ve had pretty good audiences,” for previous shows, and hopes to continue the tradition.

The group started practicing in October. Black says, “I usually like to have eight or nine rehearsals before a show,” and the group meets one night a week for two hours of practice.

Brenda Young, from Young’s RV Park in Caliente, is also a singer in the choir. She said, “I’ve always loved singing,” and when Black started the choir, she was happy to join.

2013 LCHS graduate Jesenya Lemus also volunteered to the choir. This is Lemus’ first year with Bella Voce, and as a former member of the LCHS show choir, said “I love music.”

Kathy Cook, manager for the choir, said, “I love it. I enjoy being a part of the community.” She helps organize a lot with the choir and acts as Black’s “right-hand man,” she said. “Everyone here has been so good to me and my girls, so it’s my way of paying back all the goodness,” Cook said.

At Tuesday’s practice earlier this week, the choir presented Black with a Christmas gift of tickets to “Forgotten Carols,” in St. George. Cook said, “he knows the music, but he’s never seen it.”

She said it’s, “interesting to watch him [Black]. He’s a master in this. He brings the best out of everybody.”

Mark your calendars for Dec. 19 and 20, when the Bella Voce choir will be having 7 p.m. performances at the Nelson C. Mathews auditorium in Panaca.