Monday, December 22, 2008

Great seasonal music

The holiday season would not be what it is without music. Granted some radio stations start playing the Christmas music way too early, but then look at the overall commercial approach, Christmas items were up for sale along with Halloween candy this year. We'll go down that path another time, this time around I'd like to follow the musical notes.

I got to two concerts this season; one at the Circle of Friends Coffeehouse here in Franklin and the second at Symphony Hall in Boston. Both were good and special in their own way!

1 - Gandalf Murphy and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams did its thing at the Circle of Friends.

What is its thing?
Hard to really describe but it generally is taking two different songs and putting them together to make a third unique song.

For this Christmas show, they brought out some "sissy" classics and intermixed them with their blend of mashup. The best probably was "Angels we have heard on high" mixed with Van Morrison's "Gloria". Yes, something to be heard to be understood.

Note: You can go to Radio-Free Slambovia, navigate to A Slambovian Christmas and select "Angels - Gloria" to hear for yourself.

2 - The Boston Pops did its thing at Symphony Hall.

What is its thing?
Music played to its best in an acoustical gem of a hall.

For this Christmas show, they backed up a reading of "The Polar Express" by Will Lebow. Very well done. The big screen came down to show highlights of C Van Allsberg's illustrations. The way they were shown, it was if they were moving pictures. The life and light depicted by Van Allsberg is all that more impressive shown in this way,

The special treat for me (along with quite a few others based upon the applause) was the new rendition of "The Twelve Days of Christmas". Now, for a song that has been around as long as this one has, what can you do different?

Try singing each verse to the melody of another classic; for example the fifth verse, "five golden rings" was sung to the theme from Beethoven's Fifth (but of course!). From that they segued into "the Surrey with the fringe on top" from Oklahoma to do verse six and then to "My favorite things" from The Sound of Music for verse seven.

Don't worry I won't reveal them all. Not that I could remember, I was torn between amazement and laughter. The vocal performance by the Tanglewood Festival Chorus was simply awesome.

This version was commissioned by the Pops to feature the range of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and it does this very well. Kudos to David Chasse for the arrangement.

Do you enjoy the seasonal music?

What is your favorite?

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