Remember: Christmas is Christmas!


Christmas is coming; and our choirs, finally, will return to be the real musical protagonists of this magical time of the year!

And you, have you planned your Christmas concert yet? Because it is precisely on this subject that today I would like to share some ideas for reflection; small suggestions for those few who still need some ideas.

Let’s start with the program; in general, I would avoid proposing songs that have little or nothing to do with the Christmas atmosphere: let’s not forget that people will eat Christmas cakes, exchange Christmas gifts, have Christmas lunches and dinners... If they come to our concert, let them listen to the Christmas carols!

Then, the presenter or the presenter: be cheerful, gleeful and always watch the audience! Do not underestimate this role because, especially in an anthology program, the good presenters give rhythm to the evening with the right intervention between a song and another.

Also, to emphasize the Christmas atmosphere it would be good, when possible, to "decorate" the concert, a bit like with the Christmas tree. In what way? First of all, it helps that most of the classic Christmas songs performed by a choir are actually transcriptions of traditional melodies, adapted from time to time to the organic and occasion; and this makes us much more free to add voices and instruments.

If, for example, you know a good soprano, suggest a solo intervention for a couple of songs. Where to insert it? It depends on the structure of the piece; if it is two verses, the first could be performed by the choir and then, as if it were a chorus, repeated as it is by the soprano soloist (but with a lighter accompaniment and developed only in the medium-high registers). It’s true, the melody and the words are the same, but the timbre will look completely different! The second verse will begin, like the first, only with the chorus; then, as if a lighthouse suddenly lights up on the stage, the soloist will enter again (it would be good to emphasize this entry with a nice "crescendo" or "diminuendo" of the chorus) to conclude together. Applause be assured!

And again, if you have the opportunity to contact that small choir of children from the school near the house, do it! Do you really think that those children are not ready to sing, even with one voice, the first verse of "Stille Nacht"? And then maybe let all your choir in with a tonal contrast of great effect...

And finally, no one has a violinist friend who plays in a string quartet available to accompany you? I know: you will tell me that writing the parts for the bows, or even directing them with precision, could be a problem... But be careful not to underestimate the musicians! If you have in program simple and traditional Christmas carols, just give them the choral score and will know well accompany your choir. In addition, those who play in a quartet are used to making ensemble music and do not need a conductor: the important thing is that they have clear time and the harmonic framework of the piece.

In short, dear friends and choir directors, from January there will be plenty of time to propose the madrigals of Marenzio and motets of Bruckner... But now, remember: Christmas is Christmas!

Many fond wishes!


Stefano Gentili

Festival director