Looking for something new? Here’s what we’re loving this holiday season…
We wish you a Merry Calypso-mas
“This fun arrangement adds a latin twist to the classic Holiday song. Great for teaching calypso style, emphasizing rhythmic precision, and learning how to play a groove! A great addition to any holiday background music gigbook, or as a teaching piece.”
Three English Carols
What I like most about these three carols is two-fold. Firstly I appreciate their general simplicity, allowing the beautiful melody to sing, and secondly because they each include not only the song itself, but also lovely and interesting introductory and transitional phrases.
The First Noel with Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring
This is so cool. Perfect for a Christmas eve church service, or just as an addition to a gig book, this piece melds together the melodies from the two pieces into one big pile of awesome. Another great thing about this piece in particular is that it has some length to it. Often, arrangements of holiday music are very short, but this piece has more weight to it, making it a perfect church prelude!
Shari Pack—2 harps
Well written, and balanced between the two harp parts, allowing each player to shine. I love the songs that were included in this arrangement, especially “Still Still Still”. These songs are recognizable enough without being overly Christmasy and are highly accessible to both the player and the listener.
Gary Schocker—4 harps
I love Gary Schocker’s music because it is never boring. He uses interesting and unexpected patterns, rhythms, and harmonies throughout this work to keep this familiar tune interesting. The best word I can use to describe this arrangement for 4 harps is “glittery.” Interesting for all 4 harpists, and engaging for an audience (who doesn’t love glissandos!?) this work would be a stunning addition to any ensemble program!
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The Elf Factory
“The Elf Factory” from the Pedal Sliders is a jazzy and fresh alternative to the usual Christmas tunes. When you’ve just had a bit too much of Rudolph and Away in a Manger, slip this original tune into your set list. It has a catch melody and is best with a good swing added to the beat.
Moonlight on Snow
“Moonlight on Snow” evokes the beauty of the holiday season for me. High notes glisten over a toasty warm bass, and I love the sense of calm the piece creates. In this very harp-friendly arrangement by Christa Grix, all the pedals are in flat, letting the harp ring its best.
Ribambelle #5-Carol of the Bells
Megan Metheney has a very interesting take on one of my all-time favorite Christmas carols. In her “Ribambelle #5-Carol of the Bells,” she has mixed this well-known holiday piece with the Ribambelle #5 by Bernard Andrès, giving it a uniquely harp twist. The result is a bit tricky, but definitely fun.
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Who knew “Mary Did You Know?” would be such a great addition to your Christmas gig book? Everyone from Kenny Rogers and Wynonna Judd to Cee Lo Green to the Pentatonix has recorded this song, but I love Erin Freund’s arrangement for solo harp because it is both playable for intermediate harpists and interesting enough for the seasoned pro to add to their holiday set list. Arranged in all flats to maximize the harp’s resonance, Freund lays out the fingering so you don’t have to spend much time figuring out how to make it work. I also love the left-hand gliss she throws in as each new verse begins—imagine percussion wind chime, only better. This is definitely a song that will please harpist and audience alike.
Deck the Halls
The Pedal Sliders make good on their name with this arrangement of Deck the Halls. There’s hardly a measure that goes by without at least one or two…or lots of pedal changes, but don’t let that scare you off this arrangement. It’s actually lots of fun and I found it totally got me back into playing a tune that I have played so many times I would have been happy never to play it again. Just when you think it might start to get routine, the Pedal Sliders change up the rhythm from a straight up ballad to swing the second half. The other thing I love about the arrangement is how clear and easy to read the typesetting is. Not only are all the pedal changes included and clearly marked, the arrangers also included the chord symbols above the staff, which is helpful should you want to stray from the page. I’ll definitely be checking out more Pedal Sliders arrangements.
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
This is one of my favorite Christmas tunes, and I love what Christa Grix has done with it in this arrangement. She does a masterful job of letting the beauty of the melody line speak for itself, supported by some lush, rich, jazzy chords. Of course these lush, rich, jazzy chords require lots of pedal changes and well-placed muffles, but Grix has taken care of all the dirty work for you, clearly marking all the pedals, muffles, and an occasional fingering where necessary. This arrangement is so much fun to play—it will be on frequent rotation in my holiday set list this year.
What Child is This
Sure, there are a gazillion other arrangements of this Christmas classic out there, but Rhett Barnwell’s artful arranging style adds just enough interest to make this one stand out. It’s the perfect choice for a cold, quiet, candlelit Christmas Eve service when your fingers just need something familiar and uncomplicated!
Jolly Old Saint Nicholas (in the style of Pachelbel’s Canon)
After a 25+ year freelance career, I confess to being passionately averse to playing Pachelbel’s over-used Canon. Yet people want to hear it. Erin Freund has come to the rescue with another clever mashup that blends Pachelbel with the Christmas classic “Jolly Old St. Nicholas.” The result is pure genius, and may just have you reaching for this one in your gig bag without even being asked! (Note to Erin: we could use another version for wedding season!)
Three Holiday Favorites
Looking for something to play while you sit around with the family on Christmas Day? With perhaps an eggnog in hand? Alyssa Reit’s “Three Holiday Favorites will fit the bill nicely. Presented in a strait forward style with minimal accidentals, you’ll have the whole family singing in no time.
The Wassail Song
David Evan Thomas—harp and flute
Are you looking for new holiday material for flute and harp? You’re in luck! American composer David Evan Thomas has arranged the peppy holiday “Wassail Song” for intermediate level players. Pull it out when you need a sure-fire lively crowd-pleaser at your next “fl’arp” gig.
Stanley Chaloupka—2 harps
I was absolutely ecstatic when Stanley Chaloupka’s Weihnachts Lieder (Christmas Songs) landed in my inbox just in time for the holidays. The former principal harpist with the LA Philharmonic, who sadly passed away in 2002, was also an artful arranger. Although this publication is in manuscript format, harpists looking for duo music will be well rewarded by adding Chaloupka’s creative medley of familiar carols to their repertoire.
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