Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Getting with the Christmas Program

My radio program, "Gamut" only airs on Wednesday mornings (on WTJU, 91.1fm), so it isn't often that it lands on Christmas morning -- but it did so today. So with three hours to fill, I had some musical choices to make. And actually, it was a lot of fun to do so.

Choice 1: Sacred or secular?
Because "Gamut" is a classical music program, my choices are already focused (but by no means limited). Should I just pretend it's just another Wednesday, or air music appropriate for Christmas morning?

The latter, I think.

Choice 2: Familiar or not?
Personally, I'm burnt out on a lot of the holiday music that regularly gets programmed. "Silent Night," "Hark the Herald Angels Sing," etc. -- pass. And even among just classical programming, I think Praetorius' "Lo, How a Rose E're Blooming" is somewhat overplayed.

So what's left? Plenty. How about some Early American shape-note hymns? Sure, Bach wrote sacred Christmas music for church services, but so did other German Baroque composers. How about a cantata by Telemann, Schutz, or someone else for a change?

Choice 3: Choral or Instrumental?
One can be pretty wide-ranging with classical Christmas music. There's plenty of material from the Middle Ages through to the modern era -- and most of it choral. So while on paper, playing a medieval chant followed by a Benjamin Britten carol followed by a renaissance motet may seem to offer variety, to the listener it's just a whole lot of singing.

So I'll be choosing orchestral works, piano works, and some early music instrumental selections to have some real variety.

Choice 4: Original music or arrangements?
There are plenty of arrangements of popular Christmas carols. And some are quite imaginative. But how many arrangements of "Joy to the World" can one hear before it all sounds the same?

I'll be searching out original compositions written for Christmas. Must be classical, must be appealing, and must be of the highest compositional quality. I have plenty of choices.

I always make a few adjustments on-air, so the program is never 100% set until it's over. Stay tuned. I'll post the playlist tomorrow (Getting with the Christmas Program -- The Results), and you can see how these four choices guided my selections.

And Merry Christmas!

You can hear the program by going to the WTJU archives. It will be available for streaming through 1/7/14. 

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