Hymn and Carol
Your gift this season could sound really incredible
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.