Make plans to join the Clinton Symphony Orchestra for their annual Holiday Pops concert this coming Saturday, December 11, at 7:30pm. The concert will take place in Vernon Cook Theater at Clinton High School. As part of the concert, we will be performing three works by Leroy Anderson: Song of the Bells, Sleigh Ride, and A Christmas Festival. Enjoy the following program notes about Mr. Anderson and these three pieces.

Leroy Anderson 1908-1975

Famously beloved as the “voice of the Boston Pops”, and a favorite composer of light concert music, Leroy Anderson displayed unusual early musical talent to his family of Swedish immigrants. His first composition at the age of 12 led him to study piano at the New England Conservatory of Music and later Harvard. Also adept at languages, he was fluent in at least 9, making the practical decision to become a language teacher with a regular salary. Conducting and composing for popular orchestras on the side spread his musical reputation, until he was discovered by Arthur Fiedler of the Boston Pops. When WWII intervened, his language skills were put to use by the military intelligence, yet he continued his “side job” the whole time composing for the Pops. Many of his inventive, clever compositions have been used as themes in radio and TV. Deemed an American original, he even earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He has been widely lauded as the “Norman Rockwell of American music for his ability to capture the familiar and turn it into art.”

Sleigh Ride remains the most popular of Christmas music. With its cheerful melody and the sounds of sleigh bells, horse whinnies and a whip, it has been recorded over 8000 times. Any orchestra musician will insist correctly that they can play it without a conductor; and the horse whinny has become what every fledgling trumpet player must learn.

Song of the Bells swirls like a Viennese waltz, the bells represented on chimes and the glockenspiel.

For A Christmas Festival, Anderson chose 8 popular Christmas carols and “Jingle Bells” to represent the spirit of the holidays. Composed for the Boston Pops, it has become a staple of holiday concerts, inviting the audience to hum along to familiar songs.

Program notes by Karin Anderson-Sweet

Holidays with the Symphony – Program Notes – Leroy Anderson