The Bel Canto Company, along with the (recently formed) Gate City Voices, returned to its “home” venue Friday night for the “Harmonious Holidays” concert in the acoustically rich Christ United Methodist Church. The ensemble held its last holiday concert in this space in 2019. Artistic Director Welborn E. Young, supported by accompanist Christy Wisuthseriwong, treated the large audience to a varied program that contained many familiar pieces, which Young described as “old things in new garb.”

The combined forces of the BCC and GCV (close to 70 singers) surrounded the audience for the opening stirring performance of “Personet Hodie” arranged by Lara Hoggard. This joyous number featured the magnificent Fisk organ played by LeeArron Klosterman, whose sturdy accompaniment ushered in the assertive piece with singing in both unison and in brilliant harmonies.

The large choir presented the jubilant “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” arranged by Dan Forrest; it was accompanied by a fancy four-hand arrangement by Wisuthseriwong and Anne Lewis (a singer with the BCC). “Away in a Manger,” arranged by Adam and Matt Podd, occasionally featured the treble and basso voices separately as well as a bluesy piano part.

The choir sang the lovely “Eight Days of Lights,” a Chanukkah song with a flowing piano accompaniment. And what holiday program wouldn’t be complete without a rendition of “The Christmas Song,” here arranged by Audrey Snyder? This winning version was with piano accompaniment and drums, sensitively played with brushes by Steve McHugh.

The large group also sang “Betelehemu” arranged by Barrington Brooks. This raucous setting featured able soloists Gerald Whittington and Sam Howell, percussionists McHugh and Joseph Turner with more rhythmic vitality brought forth by the hand-clapping choir.

The BCC, about 40 strong, presented an unaccompanied “Silent Night,” arranged by Jonathan Rathbone. The work pits men’s chorus against the women’s in wonderfully contrasting sections before coming together, and tenor John Wright was the soloist. The blend was absolutely exquisite, one of the distinctive hallmarks of the BCC.

The BCC proper also sang the heart-felt “I Wish you Christmas” by John Rutter. The attractive voice of Hilary Webb-Propst was featured in “Still, Still, Still,” in a gentle a cappella arrangement by Derric Johnson.

Still another choral sound was heard from a select group from the BCC (about 20 singers) in “Carol of the Bells,” which was energized by McHugh’s drumming. This fun, quirky piece provided a distinctively different take on this holiday gem.

This smaller group was also featured in an unaccompanied “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” by Jamey Ray and “Jingle Bells,” arranged by Ben Parry. Both had a bit of “Swingle Singer” style, with vocables and fun syncopation. Soloists Ethan Wood and Robert Frederick theatrically sang the role of “the Grinches.”

Percussionists Turner and McHugh supplied djembe garnish for the lively spiritual “Children, Go Where I Send Thee,” arranged by Kevin Phillip Johnson. The guest soloist, Tahnai Hand, did some wonderful wailing as the choir provided animated movement and hand claps.

Hand’s voice was also employed in “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” arranged by the Podd brothers. Pianist Wisuthseriwong’s jazz-infused harmonies help set the tone for this beloved spiritual that began gently before the more upbeat section was enlivened by drummer McHugh.

UNCG DMA music student Brittany Kaehler led the large ensemble in two works: “While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night,” arranged by Craig Courtney, and the concluding piece on the program, “Joy to the World,” arranged by Mack Wilberg. The first was accompanied by Wisuthseriwong in this dreamy arrangement, and the latter by organist Klosterman. In “Joy,” Kaehler took the last verse in a grander, broader tempo to a wonderful effect.

The BCC traditional encore followed: the gorgeous “Silent Night” arranged by Craig Courtney. The gentle conclusion softly ended a marvelous concert.

Throughout the evening Young’s accomplished direction was first-rate. By turns gentle, dramatic, buoyant, or intense, his fluid motions perfectly captured the emotions and moods portrayed by the selections. I know I may sound like a broken record, but it really is this Bel Canto Company holiday concert that starts my seasonal celebration.