Has the Carpenter’s Christmas Portrait album ever held a spot on your holiday music rotation? I love the way that album progresses seamlessly from one piece to the next with no break.
I’ve always enjoyed concert experiences that work like that, too. In the church where I’ve been playing since 1989, the two brilliant and talented music directors (Daniel Stokes and Daniel Blosser) have always made it a point to create seamless concert experiences, especially with the Christmas concerts we do each year. Each piece flows beautifully into the next with no significant pause and no applause until the end of the concert.
To make that work, adjacent pieces must be in related keys, or one has to create an introduction or interlude that transitions smoothly from one key to the next. I enjoy getting to create some of that transitional material, and I thought it might be fun to share some of it.
Here’s one from this year’s Christmas concerts, which will begin on December 4. I used a few phrases from Wexford Carol to transition between a choral anthem in A major to one in D-flat major. This is one I think I might turn into a full-fledged piano setting.
Here’s an organ introduction that tied together a choral anthem ending in E-flat major with the congregation singing Hark, the Herald Angels Sing in G major.
In another year, we used Hark, the Herald Angels Sing as a congregational carol again, but moved from an anthem ending in B-flat major to the carol in G major.
In this example, my job was to create a bridge between the G major ending of Hark! the Herald Angels Sing to the C minor beginning of God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen played by the bell choir. Oboist, Ben Williams, played this one with me.
Here’s a bridge between the E major ending of Michael W. Smith’s All Is Well, sung by a children’s choir, to the G minor beginning of Brightest and Best, by Shawn Kirchner.
This next one is a transition between the E major ending of The First Noel, arranged by Mack Wilberg, to the C-sharp minor opening of Eric Whitacre’s Lux Arumque.
Here’s one that didn’t require a key change; we just needed “travel music” to transition from a choir anthem to a bell piece. I arranged a one-stanza setting of Still, Still, Still to play with violist, Carl Larson.
Finally, here’s a single stanza interlude of Rock-a-Bye, My Dear Little Boy that moved us from F major to A-flat major.
If this seamless concert experience is not something you’ve done, I encourage you to give it a try.
To all my musician friends who work so hard at this time of year, cheers to you! You are making the world a better place. Thank you! I hope you get some holiday time to rest and rejuvenate.