Hymn and Carol

Your gift this sea­son could sound re­ally in­cred­i­ble

Gulf & Main - - Contents - BY ERIK ENT WISTLE

With the ap­proach of the hol­i­days, we of­ten find our­selves sur­rounded by vis­ual im­ages and re­minders of the sea­son―Christ­mas trees, glit­ter­ing light dis­plays, ten­der manger scenes and flick­er­ing meno­rahs. At this most mag­i­cal time of the year, our pub­lic spa­ces re­flect a merger be­tween the com­mer­cial and the cul­tural that re­sults in a some­times be­wil­der­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

But all of th­ese sea­sonal sights would not be com­plete with­out the sounds of hol­i­day mu­sic.

At this time of year mu­sic rings out from ev­ery cor­ner of our com­mu­ni­ties, whether it be from in­side our places of wor­ship or out at the lo­cal mall. But even though we usu­ally rec­og­nize hol­i­day mu­sic as such when we hear it, much like the term “clas­si­cal mu­sic,” the hol­i­day mu­sic la­bel has be­come so broad as to be al­most mean­ing­less. It en­com­passes lit­er­ally all styles of mu­sic―or to put it more ac­cu­rately, artists and groups of ev­ery mu­si­cal stripe have pro­duced their own hol­i­day mu­sic. This is not to men­tion tra­di­tional hol­i­day mu­sic, much of which dates back many cen­turies. Choose any genre or style of mu­sic, and you are sure to find works in­spired by the sea­son.

While we are not in con­trol of what we see and hear in the pub­lic sphere, at home we have the op­tion to cre­ate what­ever at­mos­phere and mood we de­sire. With so much avail­able to us, we might choose to play old, fa­mil­iar fa­vorites, or try out some­thing beyond the usual fare that we are ac­cus­tomed to hear­ing. It’s up to us to choose and use this mu­sic to en­hance our ex­pe­ri­ence of the hol­i­days, and to think about how and why this mu­sic af­fects us, in­tel­lec­tu­ally, emo­tion­ally and spir­i­tu­ally. Since most of this mu­sic gets a hear­ing only at this time of year, the win­dow of time to ex­pand one’s hol­i­day mu­si­cal hori­zons is fairly nar­row, so now is when you should make that playlist and get lis­ten­ing.

I know that I will be re­vis­it­ing a lot of my own fa­vorites, such as Ge­orge Win­ston’s De­cem­ber al­bum, the sound­track from Ray­mond Briggs’s The Snow­man, some Czech Christ­mas car­ols, and fa­vorite croon­ers such as Si­na­tra and Streisand.

But I am even more ex­cited to see what else I can dis­cover, and with any luck I will be adding some new mu­sic to my fam­ily’s an­nual hol­i­day tra­di­tions.

What mu­si­cal works are you plan­ning to give some air time dur­ing this sea­son? Pi­anist, in­struc­tor and mu­si­col­o­gist Erik En­twistle re­ceived an un­der­grad­u­ate de­gree in mu­sic from Dart­mouth Col­lege. He earned a post-grad­u­ate de­gree in pi­ano per­for­mance at Wash­ing­ton Univer­sity in St. Louis. He earned his doc­tor­ate in mu­si­col­ogy at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Santa Bar­bara. He teaches on Sani­bel.

At this time of year mu­sic rings out from ev­ery cor­ner of our com­mu­ni­ties, whether it be from in­side our places of wor­ship or out at the lo­cal mall.

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