Phil’s Christmas Playlist

Our General Manager, Phil Gietzen has created a Christmas Playlist he would like to share with our followers. Here is why Phil chose this particular playlist.

As winter takes hold and we approach Christmas I am reminded of the wealth of music that has been written to celebrate this time of year. Having sung in choirs for most of my life it is natural that many of my selections fit in this tradition. We start by setting the scene with Gerald Finzi’s beautiful In Terra Pax. We then start on our travels with The Dance of the Snowmen from Howard Blake’s music to The Snowman, which instantly transports me back to childhood Christmases.

There have been many pop and jazz Christmas songs that could have made this list. A particularly great recording of Santa Baby by Eartha Kitt always brings a smile. For a complete change of pace we look to KT Tunstall and her song Mele Kalikimaka (Christmas in Hawaii), which I challenge you not to tap your foot to!  A few years ago one of my favourite folk singers, Kate Rusby, released a christmas album and so Sweet Chiming Bells is a regular soundtrack in my household.

Community and community music-making is a staple of the festive period. Alexander L’Estrange’s collection of carols Wassail! encapsulates the community spirit of Christmas, particularly in this fun recording of While Shepherds Watched (Three Ways).

The world of opera and ballet has many references to winter but one opera that particularly comes to mind when thinking of winter is Puccini’s La Boheme and the beautiful duet from act 1 Che Gelida Manina.

We return to the world of choral music for my final few selections. First we look to British composer Cecilia McDowall and her beautiful setting of Ave Maris Stella. The French composer Francis Poulenc wrote a beautiful set of 4 motets,I have picked the 3rd motet Videntes Stellam from Quatre motets pour le temps de Noël.

Possibly my favourite ever piece of Christmas music was written in the 1990s by American composer Morten Laurisden. His setting of the O Magnum Mysterium text uses exquisite harmony to create one of the most atmospheric pieces I can think of!

No Christmas playlist would be complete without a recording from Carols from Kings and, of course, David Willcocks arrangement of The Sussex Carol.