I never can predict when the music of the season is going to bring me to a state of misty-eyed gratitude for all of life -- or when it's going to make me roll my eyes and rage like the Grinch.
This current season has certainly brought about both situations -- from the first hokey Christmas tune blaring at drug store in November ("NOVEMBER!" I raged) to the soul-melting beauty of the vocal quartet at my church singing Holst's "In the Bleak Mid-Winter" on the morning of Christmas Eve.
Another unexpected moment came when I was listening to Lindsey Stirling's holiday album Warmer in Winter, in honor of one of my youngest students, age six, who adores Lindsey. I Grinch-ishly expected a pretty straightforward Christmas album, so when her rendition of Jingle Bell Rock took a surprise Big-Band turn (at 1:35) I have to say that I laughed with delight! I mean, Sing Sing Sing Lindsey -- it's truly a nice arrangement.
Some of my favorite musical moments so far this year had nothing to do with the music at hand, but more to do with the way I could see music bringing together a community. My musical activities of the season were kind of bookended by two Handel "Messiah" performances - one at the beginning of December that brought together 189 singers from 108 congregations of all kinds; then the smaller Boxing Day Messiah that I play every year at the home of violinist, violin-maker and collector Dr. William Sloan. In the first case, singers had been gathering annually for the Messiah for 50 years; and in the case of Dr. Sloan, it's been nearly 20 years. What powerful traditions!
What are your holiday musical traditions? Did you have any surprise moments of sublime beauty this year? Any moments of sheer Grinch-like holiday-music anger and rage? Please feel free to share in the comments below. And we wish you a happy holiday season!
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