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Music of Christmas Past & Present

In this, my first Christmas of retirement, I’ve happily listened to lots of Christmas music. Some are recent discoveries and others are old favorites. Here’s a sample.

The Ballad of the Brown King by Margaret Bonds. Thank you Dessoff Choir and soloists for introducing me to this wonderful cantata at your recent Christmas concert at the Met Museum. Rich, swinging jazz harmonies and the nativity story from a new angle. I’d love to hear a concert of this work paired with another old favorite, Ottorino Resphigi’s Laud to the Nativity. Two twentieth century gems.

Music by Michael Praetorius. Thank you, Tenet, an early music ensemble in NYC, for a concert of his music. This pre-Bach master bridged the gap between the Renaissance and the Baroque eras to my ears. Just joyous.

My off-beat Christmas CDs. I always listen to the Robert Shaw extravaganza of carols and other traditional collections with a distinct symphonic and operatic bent. But I’ve also gotta hear my Christmas albums by The Manhattan Transfer, Oscar Peterson, the Vincent Guaraldi Trio (remember Charlie Brown?) and my beloved outsiders, The Roches. Nobody was more creative those three sisters, and nobody could harmonize like they did.

Happy holidays, everyone.

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