Gould: American Salute
Williams: Three Holiday Tunes from Home Alone
Shaw/Bennett: The Many Moods of Christmas Suite 4
Break Forth, O Beauteous, Heav’nly Light, The First Nowell, O Little Town of Bethlehem, I Saw Three Ships, Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly
Joe Stuessy: A Texas State of Mind (World Premiere performance)
Arr. Gold: I’ll be home for Christmas
Stephenson: Jingle Bell Rock
Vaughn-Williams: Fantasy on Greensleeves
Arr. Poling: Candles and Dreidels
Christmas Sing Along
To learn more about this concert, see the Conductor Letter and Program Notes below.
Dear Symphony of the Hills Friends,
When my children were growing up, they loved the movie Home Alone. The movie has so many humorous, endearing and ultimately, redeeming moments thanks to the fierce little boy who only wanted to get his family back together for Christmas. It is an important lesson for all of us that being with those you love makes for true happiness, and that our physical properties and possessions pale in comparison to the true meanings of the holidays.
This concert will feature beautiful symphonic music of the season that reminds us of the importance of being together in times of celebration and remembrance. Though not a holiday piece per se, we will open with Gould’s American Salute, which celebrates our nation’s finest with its energetic rendition of When Johnny Comes Marching Home. On this exciting program we will be joined by our talented Grand Symphony Chorus, under the direction of Dr. David Baker, singing carols of the season, including John William’s beautiful tunes from Home Alone.
The second half of the concert will feature more seasonal holiday music including an inspiring audience sing-along sure to get even the Grinch among us into the holiday spirit!
The musicians of the Symphony of the Hills and Grand Symphony Chorus hope to create a feeling of home at the beautiful Cailloux Theatre; we hope you will enjoy the celebration with us.
With sincere wishes for a wondrous holiday and thanks for your attendance and support,
Conductor & Artistic Director
Morton Gould (1913 – 1996)
Like much of Morton Gould’s music, “American Salute” is semi-serious in nature, and reflects Gould’s uncanny skill in thematic development. Using only “When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again” as a basis, he contrives a brilliant fantasy. “American Salute” has become a program favorite for concert bands and orchestras.
Morton Gould has composed more than 1000 works for radio, television, films, musicals and ballet. He earned a Grammy for classical music in 1966. Kennedy Center Honors were awarded to him in 1994 and the following year he won the Pulitzer Prize for his “Stringmusic.”
The Many Moods of Christmas
Robert Russell Bennett, arr. (1873 – 1943)
The Many Moods of Christmas is a collection of eighteen Christmas carols conducted for a 1963 audio recording and vinyl release by the conductor Robert Shaw, grouped into four suites. The carols were arranged for chorus and orchestra by famed Broadway orchestrator Robert Russell Bennett.
The following is a listing of the suites and the music that each suite contains:
- Suite One: “Good Christian Men, Rejoice” — “Silent Night” — “Patapan” — “O Come, All Ye Faithful”
- Suite Two: “O Sanctissima” — “Joy to the World” — “Away in a Manger” — “Fum Fum Fum” — “March of the Kings”
- Suite Three: “What Child is This?” — “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” — “Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella” – “Angels We Have Heard on High”
- Suite Four: “Break Forth, O Beauteous, Heav’nly Light” – “The First Nowell” — “O Little Town of Bethlehem” – “I Saw Three Ships” – “Deck the Halls”
As with most audio collections/recordings made before 1967, the original version, performed by the Robert Shaw Chorale and RCA Victor Symphony, was released by RCA Victor in both mono and stereo. The album was a great success, with first-year sales exceeding 100,000 units.
I’ll Be Home for Christmas
Walter Kent (1911 – 1994)
“I’ll Be Home for Christmas” was recorded in 1943 by Bing Crosby, who scored a top ten hit with the song. Originally written to honor soldiers overseas who longed to be home at Christmastime, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” has since gone on to become a Christmas standard.
The song was written by the lyricist Kim Gannon and composer Walter Kent. The song is sung from the point of view of a soldier stationed overseas during WWII, writing a letter to his family. In the message, he tells the family he will be coming home for the holiday and requests snow, mistletoe, and presents on the tree. The song ends on a melancholy note, with the soldier saying, “I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams”. Kim Gannon, the lyricist, claimed on at least one occasion that he was not thinking of soldiers but of all people who are unable to be home for Christmas. When he pitched the song to people in the music business, they turned it down because the final line was too sad for all those separated from their loved ones in the military. When playing golf with Bing Crosby, however, Gannon sang the song for Crosby, who decided to record it. The rest, as they say, is history.
Jingle Bell Rock
James Stephenson (1969 – )
Although Chicago-based composer James M. Stephenson is relatively young compared to most of well-known American composers, his music of has been commissioned and performed by many of the major symphony orchestras throughout the US, including such as the Chicago Symphony, Boston Pops and New York Philharmonic. He is adaptable and versatile, having written popular pieces as well as concertos and sonatas for nearly every instrument, earning him the moniker “The Concerto King” by members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. His works in both formal classical and popular formats have been widely performed by American orchestras and ensembles to critical acclaim and the delight of audiences.
“Jingle Bell Rock” is a very recent arrangement of the 50-year-old holiday favorite, and certainly one of Stephenson’s most popular compositions, played widely and often.
Fantasy on Greensleeves
Ralph Vaughn Williams/Wilford “Bill” Holcombe, arr.
Greensleeves is an ancient English folk song, the origins of which can be traced to some period before 1580. The composer has been identified as Richard Jones, although there are many who believe that it was written by Henry VIII for his lover and future queen consort Anne Boleyn. This legend continues: Boleyn allegedly rejected King Henry’s overtures and this rejection may be referred to in the song when the writer’s love “cast me off discourteously.” The fact the piece is in an Italian style or Spanish equivalent that did not appear in England until after King Henry’s death has not squelched the legend.
Ralph Vaughan Williams apparently composed this Fantasia on “Greensleeves” based on the original melody in 1934, although some speculate that the 1934 Fantasia is actually an arrangement made by Ralph Greaves from an earlier Vaughan Williams opera. The lovely arrangement for full orchestra we will hear this evening is a quality effort by Bill Holcombe.
Candles and Dreidels
Kermit Poling, arr. (1960 -)
Chanukkah, the Jewish festival of rededication, is probably one of the best known Jewish holidays, not because it has any great religious significance, but because of its proximity to Christmas. The only religious observance related to the holiday is the lighting of candles arranged in a menorah. Another tradition of the holiday is playing dreidel, a gambling game played with a four-sided square top. This selection delights us with a celebration of the highlights of Chanakkuh.
Kermit Poling is a conductor, violinist and composer who has performed extensively throughout the United States and abroad and has held the Concertmaster position with the Shreveport Symphony Orchestra for 27 seasons. His score, Candles and Dreidels, has been performed by symphonies throughout the country.
Concert Notes by Jim Adams