News & Views Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Holidays with the Orchestra – Grade 2.5-3 Monday, October 16, 2017

recommended by Dan C., Orchestra Music Specialist

There is a bumper crop of new holiday pieces this year, so take advantage of them and freshen up your library! There are lots of fun mash-ups, unique arrangements of Christmas favorites, and some off-the-beaten-track selections that will add pizzazz to your winter concert.

alfred-45870-fDeck the Hall of the Mountain King arr. Richard Meyer, Grade 2.5
The deft talent of Richard Meyer has conjured up this good-natured combination of the well-known Welsh carol, Deck the Halls, and Grieg’s In the Hall of the Mountain King from Peer Gynt. The major/minor juxtaposition of the diatonic and chromatic melodies adds to the aural amusement as does the accelerando and stringendo at the end which one expects from In the Hall of the Mountain King. It’s clever but not crass. Add the optional sleigh bells and crash cymbals for the greatest effect!

My Candles (In the Window) arr. Brendan McBrien, Grade 2.5
It’s always super satisfying to find something off the beaten track for a holiday concert, and this one really fits the bill. Brendan McBrien has taken a simple, strophic Hanukkah song (My Candles a.k.a. In the Window) and written a complementary theme to separate its reiterations. Both themes are liberally shared among the orchestra sections which makes a great opportunity for your students to learn when to bring out their line and when to accompany. Optional suspended cymbal, triangle, bongos and bells will add some festive color to the performance.

alfred-45883-fSecret Agent Sugar Plum arr. Scott Watson, Grade 2.5
When you can find a way to class up a holiday concert novelty that will not only give a chuckle to your students and your audience but will also satisfy their expection of classical music from your orchestra, you’ve got it made! This clever fusion of Tchaikovsky’s Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from The Nutcracker with classic spy music idioms incorporating a rock groove will have the whole room heart happy! Optional drumset, cowbell, triangle and piano will help with the pop ambiance.

O Silent, Holy Night arr. Stuart Carlson, Grade 3
If you need a top notch “down” tune for your holiday concert, look no more! Here are two of the most popular slower Christmas tunes combined in a sublime, seamless medley that flows from 3/4 to 6/8 with hardly a ripple. The accompaniment parts are as interesting as the melody so everyone will enjoy this mellifluous mixture of Silent Night and O Holy Night.

wj-3035781-fJingle Bells arr. Michael Blackwood, Grade 3
You have never heard Jingle Bells arranged like this before! It’s amazingly unique, yet not so weird that it will turn people off. Your students will surely request to play it year after year! Everyone gets a shot at the melody, even the basses, in half time under a 16th note chromatic accompaniment that comes as a real aural surprise. There is a fair amount of chromaticism overall, so follow those fingerings! First violins and cellos do a call and response round at one point and the whole thing finishes with a big shout chorus. Oh, what fun it is!

Time for Christmas arr. David Bobrowitz, Grade 3
Sometimes you just want some standard carols for your holiday concert – but wouldn’t mind if they are cleverly arranged. A Time for Christmas will definitely fit the bill! Here are Good King Wenceslas, The First Noel and God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen like you’ve never heard them before! Syncopations, hemiolas, staccato and spiccato bowing all contribute to this fresh, contemporary setting, with interesting, active parts for all sections so that no one will feel slighted. It’s spunky!

alfred-517868Away in a Manger arr. Jeffrey E. Turner, Grade 2.5
This is the “other” version of Away in a Manger, the beloved Christmas carol, written by William J. Kirkpatrick. Arranged by Jeffrey E. Turner, it features a string quartet within the orchestra and its haunting beauty is mesmerizing. This is sure to become one of your holiday favorites.

Catalonian Carols arr. Pierre LaPlante, Grade 3
Arranger LaPlante has taken two traditional melodies from the Catalonian (northeastern) region of Spain: Carol of the Birds and On Christmas Eve. Catalonia boasts a long and varied history of music and music making, and from this music the arranger has tapped into a deep well of inspiration to create this rich and very musical setting for strings. The piece offers a great opportunity for expressive playing, phrasing, and exercising one’s musicality without having to drill too much on technical difficulty. This fabulous setting will work well on a seasonal concert, or as a festival selection.

Need more holiday options for your orchestra? Visit our website, or contact us! Shop Stanton’s for all your sheet music needs!

About the Author:
Dan C. has worked at Stanton’s since 1979, primarily with orchestra music and print promotions. A “working” musician, he’s a classical cellist, a rock & jazz bassist and a folk & country guitarist/singer. His free time is spent with family or reading, gardening, cycling and working puzzles. His series of musical puzzles (RP3 Rebus Puzzle Picture People) can be found on the Stanton’s Facebook page each Sunday. He also has a reputation as a pretty good joke teller. Seriously.

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