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Staff Selections: Holiday Selections for the Band and Orchestra

Vince Corozine • Repertoire • September 20, 2011

Balancing musical quality, technical difficulty, and fun is the challenge as we turn our attention to the holiday season. The lighter selections are plentiful, but with so much time spent preparing music for the December concert, it’s not easy to find music that propels the curricular aims forward at the same time.

Here are both standard and new selections that would be great for the next holiday concert. The difficulty range is mostly grade 3 and 4, and some of the works are available for either orchestra or band.

 

Christmas Day

Gustav Holst
Band: Arr. by Larry Daehn (Daehn Publications);
String orchestra: Arr. Douglas Wagner (Alfred Publishing/Belwin Division)
Grade: 4
Duration: 6:15

This work, originally written in 1910 for choir and orchestra, has been reworked for both band and orchestra. Holst masterfully blends variations on In dulce jubilo with God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Come Ye Lofty, Come Ye Lowly, and The First Nowell. The textures are wonderful; he jumps between carols and even stacking them atop each other! The work is in 3 flats, yes even the string orchestra version, but it is worth the effort. If the above work is too difficult, there is also a grade 3 work entitled A Holst Christmas also arranged by Douglas Wagner which has a version for band, and string or full orchestra. Though a completely different piece, it is worth listening to as well.

Publisher link:

Audio Link:

 

A Christmas Festival

Leroy Anderson (Alfred Publishing/Belwin Division)

Grade: 4

Duration: 6:45

This is a must have for the library. The medley is enjoyable for students and an audience favorite. A Christmas Festival is available for band or full orchestra (though in different keys), and each ensemble publication has optional SATB choral parts. A larger work which can challenge an ensemble’s endurance, it includes all of the following tunes: Joy To the World; Deck the Halls; God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen; Good King Wenceslas; Hark! The Herald Angels Sing; Silent Night; Jingle Bells and Adeste Fideles. If the work is too demanding or there is not a full orchestra to work with, there are also several grade 3 arrangements for band and string orchestra.

Publisher Link:

Audio Link:

 

Coventry Carol

Richard Saucedo (Hal Leonard Corporation)
Grade: 3
Duration: 3:30

This work for band is a slower and melodic setting with a medieval feel. Saucedo’s arrangement of the English carol features the upper woodwinds throughout the work with prominent melodies, counter-melodies, and more technical demand than the rest of the ensemble. There is even an optional part for recorder to add to the ancient sound.

Publisher Link: www.halleonard.com/product/viewproduct.do?itemid=4001257&lid=33&promotion=384&subsiteid=6&

Audio Link: www.halleonard.com/viewaudio.do?itemId=4001257&fileName=s3.amazonaws.com/halleonard-audio/04001257.mp3

 

Dance of the Tumblers

Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Band arr. Terry Vosbein (Neil A Kjos Music Co)
Orchestra arr. edited by Carl Simpson (Masters Music Publications Inc)
Grade: 5

Duration: 4:30

This excerpt from Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera “The Snow Maiden” will be a great showcase work for a top orchestra or band. Unison technical demand is required for all sections, especially the low instruments. The work can take a variety of tempos from upbeat to burning fast and be used as an opener or closer. Every section in the ensemble will enjoy this musical and technical challenge. Sandra Dackow has two arrangements for grade 3 string and full orchestras available through Tempo Press for younger orchestras as well.

Link: jwpepper.com/2443539.item

Audio Link: jwpepper.com/sheet-music/mp3player.jsp?song_url=rockstar.jwpepper.com/mp3/2443539.mp3&song_title=DANCE OF THE TUMBLERS&filename=I_2443539

 

Festival of Lights

Bud Caputo (Alfred Music Publishing)
Grade: 3
Duration: 5:30

This string orchestra arrangement of six Chanukah songs is so well done; every orchestra should program it on the next holiday concert. The medley of: Maoz Tsur, Oseh Shalom, Svivon, Mi Yamaiel, Chanukah, and My Dreydl was written with younger players in mind, however even advance groups will enjoy the musical experience this setting provides. The piece will help develop all aspects of an ensemble’s musicality with its wonderful moments of lyricism, harmonic tension, and upbeat joy. This work is a great way to make a winter concert inclusive of multiple holiday traditions.

Publisher Link: www.alfred.com/Products/A-Festival-of-Lights–00-26579.aspx

Audio Link: www.alfred-music.com/player/AlfredOrchestra2007/26579/player.html

 

Greensleeves 

Alfred Reed (CL Barnhouse Company)
Grade: 4
Duration: 3:45

A standard in the band repertoire, the Alfred Reed setting of Greensleeves will provide both reflective beauty and grandeur to a December concert. The piece is technically a grade 3, and is approachable by younger ensembles, but is worth rehearsing with the most mature musicians as well.

Publisher Link: www.barnhouse.com/product.php?id=012-2584-00

Audio Link: www.barnhouse.com/view_score.html?pdf=/samples/pdf/012-2584-00.pdf&mp3=/samples/mp3/012-2584-00.mp3

Imani

Sean O’Loughlin (Carl Fischer LLC)
Grade: 3
Duration: 5:30

Imani, which means “faith,” gets its name from the seventh day of Kwanzaa. This work for band features great percussion writing and a piccolo solo, and the ensemble has the opportunity to sing! The piece travels from serious and reverent to a joyful and celebratory dance. It is a work that is on the upper end of grade 3 and will require the attention to detail of any festival selection. Balance, rhythmic awareness, and musical arrivals are all tools on which a director will be able to work. Imani is a great opportunity to include multicultural awareness on a winter concert. It will be well received by the audience, pose a musical challenge to an ensemble, and be worth the effort required.

Link: jwpepper.com/2465326.item

Audio Link: jwpepper.com/sheet-music/mp3player.jsp?song_url=rockstar.jwpepper.com/mp3/2465326.mp3&song_title=IMANI&filename=B_2465326 

 

O Magnum Mysterium

Morten Lauridsen, arr. Sandra Dackow (Peer Music Classical)
Grade: 4
Duration: 6:15

Now available for strings, this choral masterwork is a “must-do” experience! The beautiful piece can be programmed any time of year, but is a serious addition to the holiday concert that will give a director many weeks of deep musical material to access with their students. Lauridsen’s colorful harmonic palette and long vocal lines will challenge the ensemble both technically and musically.

Publisher Link: www.peermusicclassical.com/catalog/catalog_detail.cfm?catalog_id=9035&composer_ID=38&ensemble_type_id=5&title=&ensemble_ID=3512&ensemble_detail_ID=&Theme_id=&position=1&totalcount=1

Audio Link: jwpepper.com/sheet-music/mp3player.jsp?song_url=rockstar.jwpepper.com/mp3/10023619.mp3&song_title=O MAGNUM MYSTERIUM&filename=I_10023619

 

Russian Christmas Music

Alfred Reed, transcribed by Clark McAlister (Sam Fox, Inc.)
Grade: 5
Duration: 15:45

After being transcribed for orchestra, this epic work is available for both mature bands and orchestra. Using liturgical music from the Eastern Orthodox Church and an ancient Russian Christmas Carol, Reed has produced a monumental work that features an extended English Horn solo and all brass players. This powerful masterwork pulls out all the stops at the end and is a perfect way to close a holiday concert!

Publisher Link:

Audio Link:

 

A Vaughan Williams Christmas

Douglas Wagner (Alfred Publishing/Belwin Division)
Grade: 3
Duration: 4:30

Get the entire music department involved in this one! Bands, orchestras, and choirs can all participate in the performance of these carols harmonized by Vaughan Williams. Forest Green (O Little Town Of Bethlehem); Wassail Song and Sussex Carol have been beautifully set in flowing pastoral, and simple yet elegant ways. Douglas Wagner has arranged each ensemble’s part to be performed separately or in any combination.

Publisher Link:

Audio Link:

 

A Winter’s Carol

Mark Williams (Alfred Music Publishing)
Grade: 4
Duration: 3:45

This wonderful arrangement for band sets O Come, O Come Emmanuel in a way that will leave everyone impressed. The audience will love the new, yet tasteful counterpoint of this classy setting. The students will enjoy the many moods they have the opportunity to explore, from somber and respectful to heroic and grand. And the director will have a piece to work on expression, sound, and beauty.

Publisher Link: www.alfred.com/Products/A-Winters-Carol–00-16503.aspx

Audio Link: www.alfred-music.com/player/ConcertBandMusic98-99Grades2-4/16503/player.html

Vince Corozine has served as director of Music for the Peekskill, New York City schools, associate professor of Music at the King’s College in Briarcliff Manor, N.Y., and director of Music Industry Studies at Elizabeth City State University in Elizabeth City, N.C.

He performed and arranged for the USMA Band at West Point and served as music director for the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade in Philadelphia, Pa. for WPVI-TV (ABC-Disney) for 10 years.

Vince is the author of Arranging Music for the Real World, (Mel Bay). He records professionally in New York, Toronto, Philadelphia, Hong Kong and China, and currently teaches 12 music arranging courses online. www.vincecorozine.com

 

 

 

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