Earlier this week we sent a message round to NYJO staff, trustees, educators and band-members (both past and present) to find out their absolute favourite Christmas track for 2020.
As you’ll see for yourself (and as expected) it’s quite a mixed bag. Some stone cold classics, some jazz-infused cool, some pretentious alternatives and some lovely personal choices that encapsulate the Christmas period perfectly. We suggest you grab a cosy jumper, pour out a festive-tipple and get ready for quite a journey.
Matthew Culloton & The Minnesota Choral Artists – In Dulci Jubilo
“At school we have this concert called Nine Lessons and Carols which involves the current students, alumni and parents and it always takes place in the second weekend of December. On the Saturday we’d spend the entire day learning a number of new songs as well as the classic carols and then on the Sunday we’d have a dinner and then perform it and “In Dulci Jubilo” was one of the songs we did last year.”
“It’s such a gorgeous a capella piece and as a choral number it’s fresh and modern while still retaining the traditional elements (plus the modulations hit different!). It was by far my favourite piece of the weekend and one of the harder ones to learn so I have fond memories of just getting it wrong and being rather lost in rehearsal, but then everything came together on the Sunday night and there was this really warm and peaceful atmosphere of togetherness when we performed it – and I loved that.”
Ella Fitzgerald – Sleigh Ride
“The reason why I chose the Ella Fitzgerald version of ’Sleigh Ride’ because not only does it feature classic but brilliant big band writing and arranging by Frank DeVol, Ella sounds wonderful on it and for me sums up Christmas in the sense that it is about sharing great times with the people most important to you during this festive period.”
Nat King Cole – O Holy Night
“I chose this track because it’s sung by Nat King Cole! I’ve always loved this carol, singing it in carol services at Church and in the town square growing up. This arrangement with the dramatic yet uplifting choir and strings makes it extra special and also makes me reflect on the year that we have all had.”
The Tom Kunis Big Band feat. Wayne Bergeron – O Holy Night
“The track features Wayne Bergeron, who is a lead player I’m greatly Inspired by. Also, O Holy Night is one of my favourite Christmas songs.”
You’re not alone. That’s the second version on this list!
Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band – Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow
“It’s a fantastic reinvention of a christmas classic that simultaneously has everything, yet there’s something unexpected round each corner – bound to catch people out on first listen.”
Öse Schuppel – s’Rothe Zäuerli
“The song comes from the opening sequence of ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ which I like to watch every Christmas. It’s hard not to get transported to some snowy eastern European mountains by listening to it I think.”
The Puppini Sisters – Jingle Bells
“This is currently is my favourite Christmas song as I have managed to go 21 years without hearing or recognising this wonderful version! I was sent this arrangement by a friend of mine with a sentence attached saying “next challenge for lockdown?”. Unfortunately we haven’t had time to complete it this Christmas but hopefully next year, along with my band Layerbylayer, we’ll be able to release our own version of this song.”
Chris Kamara – Jingle Bells
“There is something very christmassy about a football pundit doing a holiday’s record. I just like the fact that they could’ve just had him sing along to karaoke backing tracks and it would probably sell the same amount of copies but instead they just did a mega burning but totally unnecessary big band arrangement!”
“Who signed off on this? Was Chris Kamara the driving artistic force on this or did somebody come to him and ask wether he’d like to do it? Both scenarios are strange to say the least. Regardless, the world has a Chris Kamara Christmas record and I’m very glad it exists.”
Red Army Choir – Jingle Bells
Click onto page 2 for selections from the staff at NYJO HQ!