Christmas Special: Swedish Winter, The Choir of Merton College of Oxford , saxophonist Calvin Wong & The Fiesta Brass Quintet
Merry Christmas! Hello and welcome to our Christmas special! As usual at this time of year, we’re hoping to impart a little Christmas spirit with some live music.
Bringing us those seasonal tunes later are saxophonist Calvin Wong and the five-member Fiesta Brass Quintet. Although many in the Christian tradition celebrate the birth of Christ on 25th December, historians doubt that this is really the date on which he was born. In Europe it seems likely that the celebration of Christ’s birth was grafted on to pre-Christian midwinter celebrations of merrymaking and feasting. Many Western Christmas customs owe their origins to winter solstice festivals in Scandinavian countries. Father Christmas or St. Nicholas definitely lives in the North, maybe even at the North Pole. In Finland, they say he lives in Lapland, the northern part of the country. In Sweden, Christmas celebrations begin early. 13th December, formerly the Winter Solstice, is now St Lucia’s Day, a major Christmas festival. Earlier this month, we went to this year’s Swedish Winter Carnival to find out more about how they celebrate.
One of the things that makes Christmas so magical is the music. Christmas hymns were first sung in Latin in churches. Gradually composers in Europe started writing specific Christmas carols, one of the oldest forms of English-language choral music. The Choir of Merton College of Oxford University” is a mixed voice choir made up of thirty undergraduates and postgraduates. Earlier this month they were in Hong Kong for a one-night concert of Christmas songs: “O Holy Night”.
Welcome back to our Christmas special. And this part of the show is all about the music … with a strong emphasis on the big bold tones of brass. First, a saxophone solo from Calvin Wong who’s going to play us “White Christmas” and “Dance of the Mirlitons”, also known as “Dance of the Reed Pipes”, from Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker”. Calvin has a solo recital today, Boxing Day, at City Hall. If you’re quick enough, you might be able to catch him there to hear more. Here though, from the solo sax we’re moving on to a bigger brass ensemble. The Fiesta Brass Quintet is made up of five young musicians who came together through a public audition process just last year. The group has already performed educational concerts in more than 20 local schools. They’re playing us out today with a Christmas medley. But before that, all of us at The Works would like to say we hope you’ve enjoyed your Christmas so far, and wish you all the best for the coming New Year.