Now that school is underway and your rehearsals are hitting a rhythm, it’s time to start thinking about Christmas and winter concert programming. If you’re looking for something new, our band staff is pleased to share our favorite new arrangements for young band. For more festive holiday options, check out the Christmas & Holiday category on our concert band webpage, or Christmas & Winter categories on our Listening Library. If you’ve missed our previous blogs highlighting some of the year’s new concert band music, check out our features on Must-Hear Young Band and Haunting New Titles for Concert Band, and keep your eyes on the CB News tab on our concert band page as we’ll be running regular features on a whole variety of new music for concert band!
The Appalachian Folk Carol, Jesus, Jesus, Rest Your Head, was collected by folk musicologist John Jacob Niles (composer of I Wonder As I Wander), in the early Twentieth Century. Scott Watson’s hauntingly beautiful arrangement of the tune explores the Nativity with peaceful reverence and mysterious wonder. His writing includes expressive tempo changes, lush scoring for full band, transparent episodes for woodwinds, and delicate percussion writing, offering bands ample opportunity for performing with musical beauty and eloquence.
Robert W. Smith has woven several holiday favorites into Colors of Christmas, a jubilant, fanfare-style overture perfect for opening the beginners’ portion of your holiday concert! Even with the limited range of the first six notes, interesting percussion (mallets, chimes, & ‘toys’) and mature-sounding writing ensure that this work will impress! This is a great addition to your beginning band library that can be used for years to come!
Dynamic and jubilant, From the Realms of Glory! is ideal to ring in the holiday season as an opening fanfare or celebratory closer to your holiday concert! Intertwining three well-known carols (Angels from the Realms of Glory, Angels We Have Heard on High, and Hark! The Herald Angels Sing), Patrick Roszell has crafted an uplifting arrangement that is a worthwhile addition to your Christmas music library!
Hark! (A Holiday Celebration) is a pleasant, mature-sounding opener full of color and style changes perfect for your second year players. Using themes from O Come All Ye Faithful, Angels We Have Heard on High, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, and even a delightful hint of The Twelve Days of Christmas, William Owens has created a work that is festive and interesting, but not an outright medley.
A nice, fun alternative to standard Christmas fare, Old-Fashioned Sleigh Ride contains many teaching concepts (light vs. legato articulation, 8th note subdivision, steady tempo), in addition to amping up the programmatic fun factor with wood blocks, sleigh bells, whip cracks, and a horse whinny! A perfect introduction to program pieces, your students will enjoy the gimmicks while your audience will enjoy its warmth and cheer.
A gorgeous addition to your Christmas program, A Peaceful Christmas is a beautiful, lush arrangement featuring your mallet players (cued in other parts). Part ballad, part lullaby, James Swearingen’s lovely setting is perfect for developing ensemble blend and phrasing, in addition to giving your students experience in the accompanists’ role.
Opening with a one-beat canon in the flute and clarinet, this arrangement of the traditional Irish Wexford Carol retains much of its ethnic flavor thanks to an Irish drum, and appropriate stylistic ornamentation. Reminiscent of the setting with Allison Kraus on Yo-Yo Ma’s Songs of Joy & Peace album, this arrangement also highlights a brass choir section, and will add an alternative lyrical touch to your holiday concert.
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