A Christmas Festival by Leroy Anderson

A Christmas Festival was composed in 1950 at a time when Leroy Anderson was an arranger with the Boston Pops Orchestra. Their conductor-in-chief, Arthur Fiedler, required a piece of music that would cover two sides of a 45 or 78rpm ‘single’ for the ‘Holiday’ season. As Richard S. Ginell wisely suggests, Anderson delivered above and beyond the call of duty for such material. He wove a tapestry of well-known Christmas songs and carols into an ‘ambitious’ concert overture. Use is made of ‘Joy to the World’, ‘Jingle Bells’ and ‘O, Come all ye faithful’ as the main thematic material. However the other tunes used are ‘Deck the Halls’, ‘Good King Wenceslas’, ‘God Rest you Merry Gentlemen’, ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’, ‘The First Nowell’ and ‘Silent Night’. The arrangement of these tunes is actually rather subtle: the composer has not chosen to show off, even although the tunes are exceptionally well orchestrated with a huge instrumental variety given for repeated versions of each carol.
Over the years a number of arrangements have been made of this ‘arrangement’ including for brass band and wind ensemble. Finally, Anderson allowed for a number of cuts in the piece; however I believe that the full length as recorded on Naxos 8.559381 is effective and maintains the listener’s interest. It is little surprise that it has become a Chistmas favourite – especially in the United States. In fact, I have a Google alert for Holst and just the other day I read that this piece was given at the Church of the Covenant and Immaculate Conception Church in Washington on 4 December. The Holst piece was his Christmas Day for Choir – of which more later!http://landofllostcontent.blogspot.com.au/2010/12/leroy-anderson-christmas-festival.html