V.com weekend vote: Have you completed the 2021 Gig-mas Triple Crown?

December 24, 2021, 4:09 PM · As a gigging musician, the month of December is especially busy. The amount of Christmas concerts and extra church services make up a significant part of my income for the year.

With the cancelled season last year do to the pandemic, and the looming uncertainty that now seems far too familiar, this December has been the perfect storm of "say 'yes' to everything you can get."

As a result, and I doubt that I am alone, has resulted in triple and quadruple service in a single day, packing multiple instruments and changes of clothes as I leave the house at 7am, and return at 11pm.

As a member of the orchestra for local ballet company, we've begun testing every concert day for covid, (a negative rapid result is required to enter the building). While it's easy to start becoming critical of the process while watching the clock creep closer and closer to the downbeat, much akin to standing in the TSA line in hopes that your plane doesn't leave without you, the harp player coined a phrase that has become our new motto:

"Be Positive, but stay Negative!"

The encouragement to keep your spirits up has made a huge difference, and spreading joy instead of frustration can help even the most difficult of situations.


As a final note, I have found that over the years, there are essentially three works, or genres that make up the Gig-mas experience.

They are, Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker," Handel's "Messiah," and the classic carol sing-a-longs. If I can manage to play all three (or even selections from each) in the month of December, I consider it an astounding success. Did you get to play some selections from any of these, this year? Please participate in the vote and share your thoughts about this music.

Of course there are other seasonal staples such as "Sleigh Ride" or Vivaldi's Christmas Concerto, but they are more suited for a Gig-mas BINGO card.

I decided this year to make an award for gigging musicians to post on their social media as a fun badge of honor for completing the big three, the triple crown of Gig-mas, if you will.

So here it is:

Congratulations if you played selections from all three. And better luck next year if not. Here's to celebrating the return of live music, concerts, and gathering in person again.

Be well, and practice well!


December 25, 2021 at 09:58 PM · For dec. I did two orchestra holiday concerts with those usual excerpts. Then for Christmas Eve day, yesterday, I had three events: 7:00 AM - surprise birthday party with the Mariachi (3 hours playing or singing time). 4:00 pm at the episcopal church doing carols + special music, then midnight mass at the catholic church, singing in the choir.

December 26, 2021 at 02:15 AM · I played Nutcracker selections and Messiah selections this year, but I didn't have a chance to play the Christmas singalong that I wanted to do. I did play some carols out on my balcony on Christmas Eve last night. Nobody sang along but a couple of people listened and I struck up a conversation.

December 26, 2021 at 07:59 AM · None this year. Even though I've been back to performing in person since September, I no longer play in any orchestra that regularly plays holiday concerts.

Interestingly, I've done some combination of two of the three most years that I've lived in Sacramento, and I've done each of the three multiple times, but I've never done all three in the same year.

December 26, 2021 at 04:47 PM · In non-pandemic seasons I'd normally play Hanukkah music. This year I only had a chance to play some of Handel's Messiah for the first time along with my teacher while she tried to entice me into playing it with her community orchestra. (I'm not sure they got to perform.)

December 26, 2021 at 05:20 PM · I played for a Christmas Eve service, which included traditional carols. Sadly no Messiahs this year! And as much as I always loved playing the Nutcracker ballet, I have not done that in some time. I’m sure the pandemic did not help the already-declining number of live-orchestra ballet performances!

December 27, 2021 at 03:17 PM · Not paid monetarily, of course, but I'm playing regularly in church, so I did play and improvised obligatos for carols (including a couple just outside the church door). Plus tried to restore the Chorale tune by memory to our visiting organist's Wachet Auf voluntary, but dion't get my entries correct (My minister, who normally adds playing the organ to his other activities, said he enjoyed my attempts).

December 27, 2021 at 06:13 PM · Just Messiah this year (unless singing carols in my car or watching Hallmark Christmas movies count).

December 29, 2021 at 08:22 PM · Our orchestra had a Christmas performance with Quartetto Gelato. We played several Nutcracker selections (which the quartet joined us for) and the orchestra played several selections including the sing-alongs. So 2/3 this year.

It was a big success, an event with VIP dining, spectacular lights and I think over 300 in the sold-out audience!

December 29, 2021 at 09:15 PM · I did get to play in a concert of carols, although no one was allowed to sing due to covid restrictions. So to avoid being too depressed about not playing much this Christmas, I chromecast my favourite YouTube Messiah to my big tv and played along - at least the bits I have photocopies for. Sang along with my favourite arias too. I've been meaning to buy the score for 30 or 40 years....

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