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Styles: Holiday Pops with orchestra

Dear listers,

Thanks so much for your help with my recent post regarding pieces suitable
for a holiday pops concert with full orchestra. Many of you requested a
compilation, so here it is. Thanks again to all who contributed - the
compilation below omits names of contributors, except where composers are
referring to their own work.


David B. Gardner, DMA
Assistant Professor of Music,
Director of Choirs
Southwestern College
Darbeth Fine Arts Center
100 College Street
Winfield, Kansas 67156

(620) 229-6302
(800) 846-1543 ext. 6302 nationwide tollfree
(316) 220-2600 ext. 6302 tollfree from Wichita

======================I'd suggest taking the opposite approach: find out what's available for
orchestra that also accommodates voices. I just checked the Luck's Music
Library catalog (which I have downloaded on PDFs--a maddening technology
when you're trying to find something!!), and the String Orchestra catalog
has a very extensive listing of Christmas/Holiday pieces. I haven't yet
been able to find a similar listing for full orchestra, but I'm sure it's in
there someplace! There's also the Kalmus catalog, but for the online
catalog you have to know exactly what you're looking for..OK, I found the
Luck's Listing online. Go to . There's a specific
listing in PDF format for Holiday music, and another supplement for
Pops/Holiday music. You can comb through those listings. If there are
choral parts, the listings will tell you so, and it gives timings as well.
What it does not have is the current cost for the music, but you can check
that with their sales contact. If there are things that look interesting,
discuss them with your orchestral conductor. S/he will certainly be
familiar with Luck's.

Here are some pieces that have worked well for us in Christmas Pops programs
with orchestra:

Gloria - Randol Alan Bass
The Very Best Time of Year - John Rutter
Sleigh Ride - Leroy Anderson
Somewhere In My Memory (from Home Alone) - John Williams
Stille Nacht - arr. Chip Davis
The Many Moods of Christmas - arr. Robert Russell Bennett
Lo, How A Rose E'er Blooming - arr. Robert Scholz
Fantasy on What Child Is This? - arr. Barlow Bradford
Carol of the Bells - arr. Barlow Bradford
(actually anything by Barlow Bradford)
Wassail - arr. John Currie
Joy to the World - arr. Mack Wilberg
(actually anything by Mack Wilberg)
Babe of Bethlehem - Edmund Walters
Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas - John Williams

Joy to the World - arr. Dragon
A couple of selections from Messiah.
Hark the Herald Angels Sing
Do You Hear What I Hear

Check out Randol Alan Bass' arrangements --- he has many, and there's one
esp. for kids with the lighter fare Christmas tunes due to come out in 2005.
If you google his name you'll find them. I think they'd be perfect for your

I also have one that we arr. for strings, percussion, piano, 2 tpts, brass
qt. - but that's a lot of inst .

I'd love to see your compilation
Cynthia Powell------------------------------

FWIW, the Orpheus Choir of Toronto once took part in a Christmas pops
concert by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (this would have been about
1985-1990) in which the orchestra played an arrangement of "The Twelve
Days of Christmas". At the appropriate time, an appropriate number (and
sex, in the case of lords and ladies) sort of larked across the front of the
stage, from one wing to the other, miming some characteristic(s) of the
numbered quantity represented in that verse (in some cases, carrying those
entities -- a pear tree, turtle-doves, etc. I don't remember whether it was
for the "dancers dancing" or the "lords a-leaping", but for one verse the
gentlemen of the choir had donned fake tutus (elasticized waistbands) over
their trousers. I do not know the source of the orchestral arrangement the
TSO used, but that probably could be discovered fairly readily.

As for the words, I believe they had been printed in the program and were
sung by the audience.

Of course, there are any number of obvious variations on this theme...

Leroy Anderson's "Christmas Festival" is pretty much a standard pops show
stopper - it's just a straight forward medley. ----------------------------------

Rejoice by Gwyneth Walker and published by EC Schirmer-------------------------

I have composed a set of carols for chorus and orchestra called Now is the
Time. Some of the pieces call for a baritone soloist. There are more than
enough selections for you to build a twenty minute set. Most of the pieces
are based on medieval texts. Two of the selections have been published by
William Thorpe Music: you can learn more by looking at this url

and looking at Chesterton's Carol and Tyrley, Tyrlow.

If you are looking for something that your audience will recognize, then
this will not suit your needs. But if you want something that has (I think)
audience appeal, and offers a change of pace from more familiar holiday
fare, then this is worth considering.

The difficulty is moderate to moderately easy for the chorus; the
orchestrations would be moderately easy for a professional ensemble; I
orginally wrote these with brass accompaniment,
so the orchestral version tends to emphasize the brass. After all, I'm a
horn player!

Now is the Time premiered in 1999 at Stanford University. There have been
six additional performances since then with brass rather than orchestral
accompaniment. The title tune has had over a hundred performances (with
brass) by The Christmas Revels. Several of the selections have winners in
the Amadeus Choir Chiristmas Carol writing contest.

I can send a vocal score, orchestra score, and recording if you want
additional information.

Brian Holmes-------------------------

The Randol Bass arrangements are WONDERFUL! Fabulous orchestrations,
wonderful SATB harmonies, etc.

In particular, if you'd like an audience-sing-along as well, try "Sing We
Now of Christmas"--we use it almost every year...when not using full
orchestra, works beautifully with piano and having instrumentalists play
from the parts on the piano/choral score.------------------

Here are some suggestions:
1. About 50 of the carols in "100 Carols for Choirs," edited and arranged
by David Willcocks and John Rutter, have orchestrations. They're listed in
the back of the book. I have been doing them for several years and have
found John Rutter's original carols and his arrangements of traditional
carols to be very well done. Choirs and audiences love them. They also
sound good with piano alone.

2. Gordon Langford has two medleys of traditional carols that have
orchestra arrangements. They are, "Christmas Joy" and "A Christmas
Fantasy." These also sound good with piano alone.

3. "Twas the Night before Christmas" arranged by Simeone is seven or eight
minutes long and works well with orchestra or piano accompaniment.

4. "The very Best Time of Year" by Rutter. Good with orchestra or piano

5. "White Christmas/Christmas Song" by Berlin, arranged by Torme' also
works with either orchestra or piano.

The following are choral/orchestral Christmas titles from the Fred Waring
Library. The list was graciously provided by Peter Keifer, the coordinator
of this collection at The Pennsylvania State University. These are all
available on loan for a small use fee. The website for more info about the
collection is:


An Old Fashioned Christmas orch
Angels We Have Heard On High orch
Cantique de Noel (O Holy Night) orch
Christmas Candles orch
Christmas Magic orch
Christmas Song orch
Christmas Was Meant For Children orch
Do You Hear What I Hear orch
Gloria In Excelsis orch
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas orch
Hurry Home For Christmas orch
I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day orch
In Sweetest Jubilee orch
It Was A Night of Wonder orch
It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like C'mas orch
It's Christmas Time Again orch
Jesu, Joy of My Endeavor Orch/2 pianos
Jingle Bells orch
King Herod's Black Decree orch
Little Drummer Boy orch
March of the Kings orch
March of the Toys orch
Mistletoe orch
Musical Christmas Card orch
Nutcracker Suite orch
O Gathering Clouds orch
Parade of the Wooden Soldiers orch
Ring Those Christmas Bells orch
Rudolph, The Red Nose Reindeer orch
Santa Claus Is Coming To Town orch
Secret of Christmas orch
Silent Night
Silver Bells orch
Sleigh Ride orch
Snow, Snow, Beautiful Snow orch
Song of Christmas, The orch
There's No Christmas Like a Home Christmas orch
Toyland orch
Twas the Night Before Christmas orch
Twelve Days of Christmas orch
We Wish You A Merry Christmas orch
We Wish You The Merriest orch
When Angels Sang of Peace orch
White Christmas orch
Winter Wonderland orch-------------------------------

I strongly recommend several pieces available from Bob Wendel at

Visit Bob's website to check his holiday arrangements. He has sound samples
of everything.

I've successfully done: We Need a Little Christmas; An Evergreen Christmas;
Christmas Through Children's Eyes; Angels in the Snow (with children's
chorus); The Best Christmas of All.

Bob is very helpful, too, if you want to contact him directly.


(Several people suggested looking at Shaw's "Many Moods of Christmas" sets)----------------

Take a look at Craig Courtney's A Musicological Journey Through the
Twelve Days of Christmas

Hinshaw Music HMC1196

It's just what the title suggest. A little longer than what you
requested but lots of fun. (your orchestra will love it, too)

Also check out Randol Bass's stuff at

I am a member of Albany (NY) Pro Music PM) www.AlbanyProMusica and also a
composer/arranger. Last year APM commissioned me to arrange a piece called
"All Kinds Of Christmases" for a cappella chorus, and the chorus premiered
it last December. This piece was written by Clark Gesner (the man who wrote
You're A Good Man Charlie Brown, and it was never performed - in any
setting, due mainly to the death of Bing Crosby - who heard it and had
planned to record it. I have a recording or this piece if you'd care to
hear it, and I could also send you a score in pdf format. This piece has
been published and is available through Theodore Pressor. However, the
version I will be recording will have a slightly different text.

Recently I have hired APM to record seven of my choral works - one of which
is a secular Christmas song called "Christmas Is..." This is scored for
chorus with piano accompaniment, and the style is that of a lush jazz
ballad. Our recording date is May 25, and I can send you a recording of
that piece as well as the score soon thereafter - if you'd care to see/hear
it. Should you decide to program this work on your Dec. concert, it could
well be a premier. (APM may do it next December, too.)

If, among the pieces you select, you decide to do something a cappella - or
with just piano, either of these pieces would be new and fresh. If you like
either one of them enough to want to try with orchestra, that could be

Steve Murray

Berkshire Music
2533 Swamp Road
Richmond, MA 01254
Phone: 413-698-2197
Fax 413-698-8019
Find me on the Web -

.One of the best things we did was the last movement of something called
Holiday Triptych by a composer in Belgium called Eric Delson delsone(a)

The last movement is a setting of "Quelle est cette odeur" for choir, full
orchestra and soprano solo.--------------

I have a group of holiday pieces with small orchestra that may interest you.
The "Jingle Bells" arrangement is published by Oxford University Press, and
has a piano accompaniment. All the orchestrations and the choral parts for
the other pieces are available to rent from me.

The pieces have optional children's chorus and audience sing-along parts.
When used with the audience singing along, they sing the choruses, the bits
that everybody knows. There is only one short bit where the children sing
alone, and that can easily be taken by the sopranos.

In the set are:

Deck the Hall
Jingle Bells
O Christmas Tree
Here We Come A Wassailing/ We Wish You A Merry Christmas

It is orchestrated for strings, one each oboe, flute, clarinet, horn in F,
bassoon, harp, with two percussion players (including timpani).

Reginald Unterseher

David B. Gardner, DMA
Assistant Professor of Music,
Director of Choirs
Southwestern College
Darbeth Fine Arts Center
100 College Street
Winfield, Kansas 67156

(620) 229-6302
(800) 846-1543 ext. 6302 nationwide tollfree
(316) 220-2600 ext. 6302 tollfree from Wichita