The Best Kind of Holiday Music

By Barry Kempton

It’s a short week this week, so my blog will be short too. I’m taking a blog-break for the remainder of the year and will be back on Monday January 5th.

In spite of having to endure weeks (or was it months?) of background holiday season music seeping out of the walls and ceilings of every public building, I am pleased to report that in the past 7 days, I’ve sung carols with wonderful (and very musical) friends, and attended two performances both of which demonstrated what music written for and about this time of year can be.

Last Thursday’s lunchtime Courtroom Concert in the Landmark Center featured carols and songs of the season by 13 composers – all with a connection to Minnesota and music written in recent years. Indeed four were world premieres and several others were new arrangements. My thanks to Abbie Betinis (one of our two Schubert Club composers-in-residence) and colleague Max Carlson for putting this program together and to the magnificent ensemble of singers and instrumentalists who brought the music to life. Here’s a link if you’re interested to see the full program of composers and performers. Creativity and talent abound in this state!

Then on Thursday evening, I was lucky enough to attend Bradley Greenwald’s The Longest Night at Open Eye Theater. This “Winter Solstice Cabaret” featured Bradley himself as baritone (and baritone player) with pianist/collaborator Sonja Thompson, whose musicianship shone forth whether accompanying or playing solo piano interludes. It was wonderfully entertaining, an evening of music, song, poetry and prose. I cannot say it better than Schubert Club board member Anna Marie Ettel, “it was delightful, funny, obscene, outrageous, sad, joyful -all at once!” 

Happy Holidays to all and may music continue to make our lives meaningful in 2015!