I am wore out we just finished our final rehearsal of the annual Christmas Sing. Every year Central participates in the Christmas sing. Not just the Orchestra but all music departments, Band, Orchestra, Show Choir, Jazz Band, and excreta. It is a lot of work but it is my favorite time of year, and the perfect way to send out the year end. I have always loved Christmas anyway, so you add that with a music extravaganza and I like a lot of people am well pleased.
This year we are performing a lot of the same standards. Those classic Christmas songs from the 1940’s and 50’s are very much in vogue. Orchestral arrangements for Frank Sinatra’s, “I’ll be Home for Christmas” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” are big hits. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” is always a favorite of mine every single year.
There is just something oh so magical when it gets around to the lyrical portion of the song, “And let your heart be light”. Right when the melody arrives at, “light” you hear the cellos and violin play that drawn out open A string, and it just sounds wonderful. Just having the melody singing out “Light-Whole Note A………!” It is just so magical to hear and really puts you in the mood of Christmas. This year I will be leading the arrangements with a few piano pieces as well. This is my time to shine.
We also have a very good collaboration this year with the woodwinds, with cooperation of their director Mr. Barnett it is coming along very promising indeed. Our Symphony Orchestral arrangements are very solid. Even the guy that hits the gong is managing to do it in time! It should be great.
I have also been petty impressed by the Show Choir this year as well, they have been doing a lot of good tunes from the late 19th century. Standards like, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” are coming along very nicely. They have an excellent chorus effect building while the verses are being sung, very touching. We almost could not use the song this year though believe it or not.
The song has been criticized in the past as being to specifically religious. Well, yeah it does tell the Christmas story of Christ, and I understand that there are those with conflicting belief systems. But this is a Christmas standard loved by probably 99% of the audience. Regardless of belief almost everyone loves these songs. The melody is spellbindingly Christmas.
My personal stance when it comes to this kind of controversy is this. Regardless of belief we have to have at least a small residual of respect for the original tradition that Christmas was founded on. And of course, before Santa Clauses and Easter Bunnies tried to rewrite the show, most of the holidays that the western world celebrates are of a Christian connotation.
Most people I know are not really offended by Christmas songs that relate the story of a baby Jesus, it just brings them back to childhood memories of happy bygone days of Christmas past. I always feel like we need to be cognizant of differing belief systems without losing all of our musical tradition. The great composers from 2 hundred years ago for example, yes, even drunk Beethoven, were religious men.
When Beethoven wrote Ode To Joy it was about God. We can’t just rip up his great composition just because some of us do not believe in God. There has to be a middle ground, or we will lose a lot of great music.
I remember last year we did have a lot of the Christmas standards cut out. And it was a tragedy. We had to suffer through some horrendous renditions of Madonna’s Holiday from the Show Choir and then there was the awful howl of the Jazz Band playing some bizarre take on the Baha Men’s, “Who let the dogs out!” We received a lot of complaints that year. For the simple reason that a lot of people left the performance scratching their heads saying, “What the heck does all this have to do with Christmas?”
So this year, thank God! The Christmas spirit is back!