Music on Mondays – Christmas in July

Today is a “Christmas in July” special! After all, on the hottest day of the year so far, there’s nothing better than spending some “cool” time listening to and watching some great music to lift our spirits and put a smile on our face.

First of all, to get you in the mood, why not make a holiday treat? John Kanell is an internet sensation and I love to make some of his recipes. Several years ago, I found him while meandering through YouTube and really enjoyed his humor while baking. He moved to Litchfield County from Los Angeles a bit over a year ago, so we can count him as a Nutmegger! Enjoy his video for Thumbprint Cookies…and you can get the kids involved, too!

For me, there’s nothing that signals the start of the holiday season like the Nat King Cole classic “The Christmas Song” (or “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire”) and the first 3 chords always send chills up my spine. This video not only has great sound, but showcases Nat himself singing live.

For those of you who were in worship the Sunday after Christmas, you got to hear me sing a solo version of this great arrangement of Clement Moore’s poem “Twas the night before Christmas”, sung here by the University of Utah combined choirs.

Most of you don’t know this little tidbit in my background, but in my college years, I sang in a couple of small groups; one was a men’s quartet started by a close friend, and we would sing music that was nearly all arranged by him. The other group was a vocal jazz ensemble (also named for that friend). We would present concerts with piano, bass, drums, and also do unaccompanied Christmas carol gigs around the Detroit area. I immersed myself in that style, because it was so drastically different than my classical training. One of my favorite groups was called “First Call” and in 1985, they released a great recording (and first track) titled “An evening in December”. It was, and still is, my favorite track from that album. (Side note, imagine my shock when a random friend request came through on Facebook about a year ago, and that request was from the arranger/singer on this song and album, David Maddux, who lives in Brooklyn!)

Of course, it wouldn’t be Christmas without some John Rutter. One of his first pieces I couldn’t get enough of was a piece called “Mary’s Lullaby”.

On the humorous side is a tribute to the 12 Days of Christmas, by Craig Courtney, and each day is sung in a familiar style!

Some of you have attended the “Ornament” concerts from the last 2 years, and they are a tribute band to the famous group “Trans Siberian Orchestra”. I leave you with this clip from a TSO Hallmark Channel special from 2012. Have a Merry Christmas!

Craig Symons
Minister of Music