Notes: December 16

Posted on Dec 12, 2016 in Program Notes
Notes: December 16

December 16, 2016 • Holiday Cheer!

Concert program notes by Callista Medland

A Christmas Festival
Leroy Anderson

Originally composed in 1950, Anderson’s A Christmas Festival has become one of the most popular medleys played by orchestras around the country. Listen for your favorite holiday tunes!

Run time: 7 minutes

Waltz of the Flowers from The Nutcracker
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

The Nutcracker ballet was premiered in Russia in 1890. While it was not an immediate success, today the Nutcracker is a holiday tradition for many around the world. Waltz of the Flowers occurs during the second act of the ballet, and is often performed by orchestras as a stand alone piece.Tchaikovsky extracted several of the pieces (including Waltz of the Flowers) from the ballet into an orchestral suite, also debuted in 1892, which was an instant hit. Be sure to listen for the beautiful harp solo!

Run time: 7 minutes

Hanukkah Festival Overture
Lucas Richman

Released in 1994, this overture is based on the traditional tunes that mark the celebration of the Jewish holiday.

Run time: 6 minutes

Pastorcito Santo (Holy Shepherd Boy) and Coplillas de Belen (Carols of Bethlehem) from Retablo de Navidad
Joaquin Rodrigo

Spanish composer Joaquin Rodrigo began his foray into music after going virtually blind at age 4 due to illness. He attributes this personal tragedy to his later musical success. He composed works for guitar, orchestra, chamber ensembles, and many songs. The beautiful song cycle Retablo de Navidad, of which you will hear two songs tonight, was composed in 1952.

Run time: 5 minutes

What Child Is This?
Arr. Rosenhaus

William Chatterton Dix wrote the lyrics to this now beloved noel in 1865 during a time of spiritual renewal recovering from illness. It was later set to the tune of the English folk song “Greensleeves.”

Run time: 3 minutes

How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Arr. Brubaker

Almost everybody is familiar with Dr. Seuss’ tale of Whoville, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. A beloved book was turned into an equally beloved television special by Chuck Jones in 1966. The music you’ll hear tonight contains excerpts from this show and will conjure images of the mischievous Grinch stealing a Christmas tree or mushing his dog-turned-reindeer.

Run time: 4 minutes

Sleigh Ride
Leroy Anderson

Anderson conceived of the idea of this holiday classic during a heat wave in July 1946, and finished the piece in 1948 (lyrics were added a few years later). Listen for the sound of sleigh bells, the clip-clop of horses hooves and an interjection from one of the horses themselves!

Run time: 3 minutes

Men of Goodwill; Variations on a Christmas Carol (God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen)
Benjamin Britten

British composer Benjamin Britten composed this lesser known work in 1947, which was debuted on a radio broadcast on Christmas Day before a message to the empire from King George VI. This theme and variation style piece highlights different iterations of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen in the form of a jig, waltz, dance, march and finale.

Run time: 8 minutes

O Holy Night
Arr. Custer

Originally written by Adolphe Adam in 1847, O Holy Night makes it onto just about every holiday compilation by major recording artists today. Despite its popularity, this piece still carries immense power and drama when performed live.

Run time: 6 minutes

The Christmas Song
Tormé & Wells
Arr. Kazik

Written in 1945, this classic is often referred to as “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire.” It was also inspired by a heat wave. Tormé was not even trying to write lyrics, but rather trying to immerse himself in wintery, cold thoughts, and the song was born!

Run time: 4 minutes

Ave Maria
Franz Schubert
Arr. Ryden

German composer Franz Schubert lived a short life but turned out a huge volume of works, most notably his lieder (songs), and symphonies. While Ave Maria is quite a famous piece on its own, it comes from a song cycle called Liederzyklus vom Fräulein vom See (Lady of the Lake). While the original lyrics do start with Ave Maria, the original text is in German, and complements the poem The Lady of the Lake by Walter Scott. Today, the Latin lyrics are performed most often.

Run time: 5 minutes

White Christmas
Irving Berlin
Arr. Moss

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, White Christmas sung by Bing Crosby is the best-selling single of all time! This classic never fails to inspire a little holiday spirit.

Run time: 6 minutes

A Holly Jolly Sing-Along!
James Stephenson

Get ready to sing along with this medley of popular holiday tunes! Stephenson hails from Chicago and is a full time composer after spending many years as an orchestral trumpet player.

Run time: 11 minutes