7:30 p.m. — Saturday, December 10, 2022

Vernon Cook Theater at Clinton High School

The Holidays are a time for family, friends and music. On this special evening we gather many of our friends to perform for you, and we hope you will bring your family and friends to celebrate with us. Expect selections from the great music we associate with the season, including collaborations with other arts groups and a carol sing-along.

It’s a special time of year!


Please enjoy the following program notes:

The Bells of Christmas, arranged by Bob Kronstadt
A collection of traditional holiday favorites, this creative mix of styles and treatments
includes Ding Dong Merrily on High, The Carol of the Bells, Silver Bells, I Heard the
Bells on Christmas Day and Jingle bells.

Sleigh Ride and A Christmas Festival
By Leroy Anderson
Famously beloved as the “voice of the Boston Pops” and composer of light concert
music, Leroy Anderson displayed his musical talent early to his Swedish immigrant
parents. 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
became fluent in at least 9, making the practical decision for a regular salary by
becoming a language teacher. Conducting and composing for popular orchestras on the
side soon spread his musical reputation until he was discovered by Arthur Fiedler of the
Boston Pops.
Many of his clever, inventive compositions have been used as themes for radio and
TV shows. Deemed an American original, he 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.”
Composed on a hot summer day in July, Sleigh Ride remains the most popular of
holiday music. With its cheerful melody and the sounds of sleigh bells, horse whinnies
and a whip, it has been recorded over 8000 times. Any
musician will insist they can play it without a conductor, and the horse whinny
has become a must-learn skill for every fledgling trumpet player.
For A Christmas Festival, Anderson chose 8 popular Christmas songs to represent
the spirit of the holidays. Composed for the Boston Pops, it has become a Christmas
staple, inviting audiences to sing along to familiar
melodies.


A Charlie Brown Christmas, by Vince Guaraldi and
Lee Mendelson, arranged by David Pugh
On December 9, 1965, nearly half the TV sets in America tuned into a Christmas
special based on a popular comic strip that CBS executives predicted to flop. But by

1966 A Charlie Brown Christmas would go on to earn a Peabody and an Emmy for
outstanding children’s programming. It then ran annually on CBS for 35 years and
became the first of more than 45 animated Charlie Brown television specials featuring
the hapless little round-headed boy.
The popular cartoon strip Peanuts had been a staple of American newspapers since
1950, its characters giving readers the chance to relive childhood angst through the
antics and quips of Charlie Brown and his gang for the next 50 years.
Peanuts creator Charles Schulz called on pianist Vince Guaraldi and his trio to
compose and perform music that would reflect the humor, charm and innocence of the
gang. Guaraldi strung together elegant, enticing arrangements that reflect the spirit of
Schultz’s work while introducing graceful contemporary jazz to youngsters.
Simple drawings and a meandering storyline tell of Charlie Brown discovering the
true meaning of Christmas, the image of his forlorn but endearing tree cleverly
paralleling his character. As that sad fir is brought to life, Charlie’s melancholy lifts with
a timeless message of holiday spirit.
Songs include Lucy and Linus with its fresh, energetic feel and tantalizing meter
changes. Christmas Time is Here, the album’s most endearing moment, is a soft lullaby
with percussive flavors. The romantic gem Skating blends musical references to falling
snowflakes with a dashing feel of swing. Christmas is Coming brings the listener into the
joyous light of the Christmas spirit.

Carol of the Bells, by M. Leontovich and P. Wilhousky
Arranged by Richard Hayman

Carol of the Bells has its roots in old Ukrainian folk songs, a way of blessing one’s
neighbors or worshiping ancient gods before the advent of Christianity. In 1899,
Mykolaiv Leontovych was supposed to become a priest, but when the choir director of
his seminary died, he was put in charge and eventually became a music teacher,
composer and arranger of his country’s ancient songs. One of these was a simple, four-
note melody called “Shchedryk”, what we know today as Carol of the Bells.
Ukrainian conductor Oleksander Koshyts liked it enough to make it his choir’s signature
piece for its first international tour. The driving, dancing energy of the arrangement
found its way to the United States, eventually making its way to a performance at
Carnegie Hall.
Peter J. Wilhousky, a popular American composer of the time among Ukrainian
ethnicities, wrote English lyrics for the song in 1936. Renaming it into Carol of the Bells
for American audiences, it quickly became associated with Christmas in widespread
performances all through the 1940s recorded by well- known groups such as Fred
Waring and the Roger Wagner Chorale.
This year, on December 4, Carnegie Hall hosted a holiday celebration to benefit
Ukraine as choral groups from North America and Europe honored the 100th
anniversary of Carol of the Bells.

Parade of the Wooden Soldiers, by Leon Jessel,
Arranged by Morton Gould
This sprightly march was originally written as a solo piano piece in 1897 by the
German composer Leon Jessel, then titled Parade of the Tin Soldiers. In 1905, Jessel
orchestrated it, and it became a popular favorite worldwide. John Phillip Sousa’s band
played it with the name changed to Wooden Soldiers, and it was published in many
different arrangements used in vaudeville routines, Broadway shows, films and
cartoons.
Since 1933 the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes have marched to this tune in their
Christmas Spectacular. Renowned American composer and pops orchestrator Morton
Gould worked as a pianist at Radio City Music Hall and later made his own colorful
arrangement.
The charming fantasy-like quality of the music has become a beloved children’s
Christmas tradition.

The Nutcracker by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky

In his last years, Tchaikovsky earned his greatest successes matched only by his
growing depression. He was to die less than a year after The Nutcracker ballet debuted
in 1891 at the height of his career. Arguably the best known Russian composer of all
time, his works include 7 symphonies, 11 operas, 3 ballets, 3 piano concertos, a violin
concerto, 4 cantatas, 20 choral works and over 100 songs and piano pieces. Although
his operas had limited success, he was able to transform ballet into staged musical
drama, revolutionizing the genre. He took ballet seriously, seeing it as an art form equal
to all others when detractors were writing it off.
Nutcracker is based on the romantic writer E.T.A. Hoffman’s tale of Clara and the
nutcracker she receives as a Christmas gift. After Clara saves the nutcracker in a fight
with the mouse king, he transforms into a handsome Prince and sweeps her off to the
magical Kingdom of Sweets. Coming off his tremendous success with Swan Lake, a
weary Tschaikovsky found the structure difficult and limiting and even asked to be
removed from the project. Instead, he was given an extension and was able to create
another masterpiece. It has become a ritual for the Christmas season among children
and adults alike.


The Polar Express, by Alan Silvestri and Glen
Ballard, arranged by Jerry Brubaker
The soundtrack for this 2004 film based on the book by the same name, was written
by prolific American composer- arranger Alan Silvestri. Nominated 4 times for a
Grammy Award, Silvestri also wrote music for Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger
Rabbit, Forrest Gump, Cast Away, the Avenger series, and many more films.
The book’s author, Chris Van Allsburg, won the Caldecott Medal in 1985 for his
haunting tale showing it’s never too late to dream. The storyline involves a young boy
who sees a mysterious train outside his bedroom window on Christmas Eve. Other
children also embark on the train’s journey to the North Pole to visit Santa as he
prepares for Christmas.
The first all-digital capture film, it features human characters animated using live-
action and motion-capture CGI animation. Although underperforming initially at the box
office, later re-releases helped propel the
film’s gross to $324 million worldwide. The soundtrack is the best-selling
soundtrack/holiday album in history.
Songs in this arrangement include Believe, which won a Grammy in 2006, The Polar
Express, When Christmas Comes to Town, and Spirit of the Season.