Notes: December 19

Posted on Dec 10, 2015 in Program Notes
Notes: December 19

December 19, 2015 • Holiday Cheer!

Program notes by Alixandra Feeley

Joy to the World
Arr. by Mack Wilberg

The familiar words to this holiday classic were written in the early 1700s by renowned hymn writer Isaac Watts. More than a century later, Lowell Mason adapted and arranged music, likely Handel’s Messiah, for Watt’s celebratory hymn. In fact, it was the recitative “Comfort Ye” that lent its sound to this festive piece.

Run time: 3 minutes

Masters in This Hall
Arr. by Mark Hayes

In this lesser-known traditional carol, lyricist William Morris describes the story of a poor man sharing news of Christ’s birth with the wealthy “Masters in this Hall.” The lyrics, written in a distinctive rural dialect, are set to a traditional French dance from the opera Alcyone by Marin Marais.

Run time: 4 minutes

Christmas Concerto
Arcangelo Corelli

CorelliPublished the year after Arcangelo Corelli’s death, the Christmas Concerto was originally commissioned by a Cardinal in the Holy Roman Church. Inscribed with the words, “made for the night of Christmas,” the concerto is structured as a traditional sonata da chiesa, or church sonata, but instead of only four movements, Corelli wrote six! Tonight, we will hear the first, fourth and fifth movements.

Run Time: 8 minutes

O Holy Night
Arr. by Dan Goeller

On December 24, 1906, the radio waves, which had only ever transmitted Morse code, carried the sound of a violin playing “O Holy Night,” making it the first song ever broadcast on AM Radio! An enduring carol, its story begins in France, when poet Placide Cappeau was commissioned to write a new work for Christmas mass in 1847. Cappeau then reached out to friend and composer, Adolphe Adams, to set the poem to music. It was an immediate hit! Years later, after discovering that Cappeau had joined the socialist movement and Adams was not of Christian faith, the church attempted to ban the song. Despite the ban, the song was sung whole-heartedly in France, and later made its way into the American Christmas canon after translation by Unitarian minister, John Sullivan Dwight.

Run time: 6 minutes

“I Know That My Redeemer Liveth” & “Hallelujah Chorus” from Messiah
George Frideric Handel

HandelOriginally an Easter Offering, Handel’s Messiah is now recognizable as a mainstay in the Christmas repertoire. In this piece, unlike other oratorios by Handel, “the chorus propels the work forward with great emotional impact and uplifting messages,” says Laurence Cummings, director of the London Handel Orchestra. In fact, it is rumored that King George II of England was so moved by the “Hallelujah Chorus” that he rose to his feet, thus resulting in all guests in his presence to rise to their feet, and perhaps beginning the tradition of audience’s standing during its performance today. Are you moved to standing?

Run time: 9 minutes

“Trepak,” “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” & “In the Christmas Tree” from The Nutcracker
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

TchaikowskiCommissioned in 1891 by choreographer Marius Petipa, The Nutcracker ballet premiered in December of the following year. One of the most identifiable sounds within the work is the celeste, featured in “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.” Invented in 1896, Tchaikovsky first heard the instrument in Paris and quickly requested one for himself, hoping to be the first composer to feature the new instrument within a full symphony. Indeed, upon hearing the unmistakable tinkling celeste, listeners around the globe conjure up images of the delicate Sugar Plum Fairy as she pirouettes en pointe.

Run time: 9 minutes

Sleigh Ride
Leroy Anderson

AndersonJust hear those sleigh bells jingling in Leroy Anderson’s musical depiction of the wonderful wintery season. Percussion and brass are featured playfully in this popular piece to create the sensation of horse steps on cobblestone, a coachman’s whip, and the whinnying of the horse itself. Giddy up!

Run time: 3 minutes

Grown-up Christmas List
Arr. by Scott O’Neil

scott-oneil-750xx2100-2808-0-342A modern Christmas classic, this sentimental song, written in the 1990s, has been recorded by Amy Grant, Kelly Clarkson and Michael Bublé.

Run time: 4 minutes

’Twas the Night Before Christmas
Arr. by Scott O’Neil

This musical retelling of the beloved Christmas poem features many holiday favorites you are sure to recognize!

Run time: 8 minutes

Let There Be Peace on Earth
Arr. by Scott O’Neil

“Let there be Peace on Earth, and let it begin with me.” This simple message of harmony and unity was eloquently captured by songwriting team Sy Miller and Jill Jackson. Tonight, we listen to the world premiere of its new arrangement, and hope that our hearts are filled with its tidings of peace for all mankind!

Run time: 4 minutes

A Holly Jolly Sing-Along!
Arr. by James Stephenson

If you’ve been wanting to sing-along all night, now is the time to belt it out!

Run time: 8 minutes