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Christmas Festival, A

(Leroy Anderson)

Said to be one of the two most played Christmas holiday pieces for orchestra or band, the other being “Sleigh Ride”, this concert overture was written in 1950 and composed using traditional Christmas carols as a base.  According to Leroy Anderson he wrote the piece so that it would last approximately 8 minutes and could be recorded on both sides of a single release.  He abridged it as he thought conductors may not like it to last this long and also it would cost less to produce and therefore to buy.  Often excerpted, the full-length version was originally recorded by the Boston Pops orchestra under the direction of Arthur Fiedler.  Christmas Carols that appear in the overture are:

(i)                  Joy to the World
(ii)                Deck the Halls
(iii)               The First Noel
(iv)               God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman
(v)                Good King Wenceslas
(vi)               Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
(vii)              Silent Night
(vii)              Jingle Bells
(viii)            O Come All Ye Faithful

“The First Noel” is only included on the longer original version.

Black Dyke Mills Band recordings
Chandos 4541 (CD: A Christmas Fantasy)
Huddersfield Choral Society

Boston Pops recordings
Philips 416 287 – 2 (CD:  We Wish You a Merry Christmas)
Conductor – John Williams

DG 419 414-2 (CD: White Christmas)
Conductor – Arthur Fiedler

RCA 09026-61685-2 (CD: Pops Christmas Party)
Conductor – Arthur Fiedler

Sony SK 48232 (CD: Joy to the World)
Conductor – John Williams
Tanglewood Festival Chorus

Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra recordings
Naxos 8.990005 (CD: Joy to the World)
Conductor – Richard Hayman

Rochester Pops Orchestra
Koch CHD 1531 (CD: Joy to the World  Carols for Orchestra and Chorus)

St Louis Philharmonic Orchestra recordings
Sonari records – 7 55724 00272 3 (CD: Christmas with the Philharmonic)
Conductor – Robert Hart Baker