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Ragazzi Boys Chorus celebrates the season

New album inspired by Langston Hughes' poem 'I Dream a World'

The Ragazzi Boys Chorus has a lot to celebrate this December. Not only do the choir members (local boys ages 7-18) have their usual busy lineup of holiday performances, but this year they're also celebrating the release of their brand-new album "I Dream a World." The boys recorded the 15 tracks (their first new CD in a decade) at famed studio Skywalker Sound, over the course of four eight-hour days.

The album's theme and title is inspired by Langston Hughes' poem "I Dream a World" and explores the ideas of unity, peace and relationships, according to founder and artistic director Joyce Keil. The collection includes pieces from a variety of faiths and traditions, such as the sufi melody "Adinu," the song "Glory" from the civil-rights film "Selma," and J.S. Bach's "Domine Deus" and is available on CD for $20 at the group's upcoming concerts and through the chorus' website at ragazzi.org/watch-listen/cds/. It can also be streamed online via Spotify.

The boys, around 85 of whom were able to participate in the recording process, were thrilled to spend time at Skywalker Sound, not only because of the high-quality of recording it affords, but also for its connection to George Lucas and "Star Wars."

"My favorite thing about being at Skywalker is that we were making a permanent record of what we were doing that year ... I'll be able to listen to that recording 70 years from now and be able to remember all the times we had together," Palo Alto resident and chorus member Partha Rao, 16, said. "Plus, Skywalker Sound is really cool! We were surrounded by all the memorabilia and the facilities are so amazing. For a high school student, that was incredible."

"As you get into high school, you wonder, 'Am I going to continue in music?'" Paly student Max Usman said. "Your immediate response is 'yes,' because it's been such a big part of your life. And at Skywalker, we actually go a taste of what it would be like to be part of a professional choir, in a professional studio and setting."

The chorus' next local performance will be its winter recital on Saturday, Dec. 10, at 5 p.m. at the First Methodist Church of Palo Alto, 625 Hamilton Ave., which will showcase Ragazzi's programs and the boys' progress over the year. The concert will conclude with an audience sing-along of traditional carols. Tickets are $17-$29. Go to Ragazzi Boys Chorus.

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Short story writers wanted!

The 33rd Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult (15-17) and Teen (12-14) categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by March 29. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category.

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