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The Weekend Vote weekend vote: What is your favorite holiday gig?

November 23, 2007 at 5:36 AM

The holiday season is just beginning, and with it comes the proliferation of holiday music. Does familiarity breed contempt, or does it give one a happy sense of tradition?

As a musician, I have often played Christmas music at someone else's midnight mass, or played Handel's Messiah for a choir group, or played in the pit for the Nutcracker Ballet, or played in an orchestra's pops concert: chart after chart of holiday tunes (Leroy Anderson...). I think one year I even played in an ice rink. I've led a lot of children in playing holiday tunes, and I've played tunes at parties in my home. While in Omaha, I used to go with my Weird-Herald reporter buddies to sing Christmas Carols, driving around town through the snow to various higher-ups homes.

My favorite gig was probably the Boar's Head and Yule Log Festival in Cincinnati, a gig I did for a number of my college years while visiting my parents for Christmas. The festival included everything from, yes, a huge pageant in which a big, dead boar's head was marched down the aisle, to a very quiet and humble ending, in which we softly, slowly played the the last bit of Joy to the World: "O come Let us Adore Him," as all the lights dimmed, leaving only a picture of the Holy Family illuminated at the front. Not my church, nor the most clever or challenging music I've ever played, but it grabbed my heart every time: the fuss, the joyful celebration, followed by that very humble picture.

WELL, I don't know where that fits on my little chart, but let's have at it! What's your favorite holiday gig, and why?

From Megan Chapelas
Posted on November 23, 2007 at 11:07 AM
Playing Weihnachtsoratorium - the novelty of it hasn't worn off yet! I'm sure in ten years, I'll be crazy about Messiah again, but not yet...
From Anne Horvath
Posted on November 23, 2007 at 1:40 PM
I like playing at my church's Christmas Eve service. Last year, we closed the service with the lights down, the congregation holding candles, me playing, and everyone else singing "Silent Night". That was nice.

Not mentioned was Shaw's "The Many Moods of Christmas". Those are actually good charts to play.

I have also been playing a certain Rock Christmas Show Featuring A Lot Of Pyro for a couple years, but this year they opted out of using local union players.

From Ray Randall
Posted on November 23, 2007 at 6:42 PM
Leroy Anderson was a neighbor of our in Ct. When I asked him to guest conduct the Stamford Symphony he said "I'm not sure, what are you playing?" I told him the second half was all his music. Before I finished that sentence he was all bubbly and excited. He said he wrote all his music at the High School level so it would sell easily.
Mr. Amderson lived in a very modest home with a typical white picket fence
and flowerboxes in the front windows. A really nice gentleman.
From Richard Hellinger
Posted on November 24, 2007 at 3:56 AM
I love playing the Nutcracker, I have a couple performances comming up, and I can't wait!
From Deborah McCann
Posted on November 24, 2007 at 12:38 PM
I voted for the holiday party, but it is a little more complex than that. I just show up at several places a play. I ask before I start if it would be okay to play awhile. Most times it is a yes. Places include small businesses, shelters, hospices. I feel like I am able to give back a little of the gift I was given andI do not accept any money.
From Deborah McCann
Posted on November 24, 2007 at 1:35 PM
P.S. I like the Corelli Christmas Concerto better than the the rest. Also there is the Locatelli-a little played but moving work.
From Carol Holmes
Posted on November 24, 2007 at 1:47 PM
It's been 7 or 8 years since I last played the Nutcracker, but after 12 years with 15 shows per year, I still love to hear it on the radio. And to add to that, I also danced several childrens' roles for 6 years when I took ballet lessons, so I know this music inside and out. My poor brother cringes whenever he hears it because he was forced to endure all my ballet rehearsals.
From Kay Pech
Posted on November 24, 2007 at 5:01 PM
For 30 years now I've enjoyed "getting in the Christmas spirit" by playing for the Disneyland Candlelight Concerts. They hire a full symphony orchestra, performing with more than a 600-voice choir in front of the Train Station (up on risers) with herald trumpets on top of the station. A famous person comes and narrates.... yes! reading Scripture interspersed between our playing traditional carols. It's a wonderful gathering of friends each year.
We do it again this weekend: Dec. 1+2, shows at 5:30 and 8:00 pm.... Come hear us !!
From Laurie Niles
Posted on November 24, 2007 at 5:20 PM
I forgot about the Corelli, Deborah!
From Leslie Dawn knowles
Posted on November 25, 2007 at 11:46 PM
I have played all kinds of holiday stuff from soup to nuts, having been in the 1st violin section of the Toronto Symphony for more than 30 years plus lots of concertmastering of smaller groups over the years.
Last year I did something completely different - I bundled up and rode on a float with my bluegrass band for the local town Santa Claus Parade, playing the same Christmas tune over and over as we sipped our coffee laced with the Baileys for extra holiday cheer and warmth. It was more fun than a barrel of monkeys and I'm am looking forward to doing it again this coming Saturday.
I think there may be a picture of us doing it from last year on our website -
Leslie Dawn Knowles

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