Quick, think of a holiday carol? My psychic abilities tell me that even you, dear NewMusicBox reader, are probably not thinking of anything written in the last ten years. Being that we are currently under a siege of holiday muzak, I might even go so far as to guess that 6 out of 10 of you are singing “Sleigh Ride” to yourself right now.
Admittedly, there is something to be said for the nostalgia factor of singing the same songs you sang with your grandma when it comes to celebrating holiday joy. But what about the songs you’ll sing with your grandkids? With so many great carols now almost nauseating to hear after holiday shopping, a few new ones couldn’t hurt. To that end, VocalEssence and the American Composers Forum held the Sixth Annual Welcome Christmas! Carol Contest this year.
Thomas Fielding (Bloomington, Indiana) won for “Behold the Dark and Bitter Night,” a setting of his own text scored for chorus accompanied by solo harp. Alan Higbee (Beechwood, Ohio) set “In the Bleak Midwinter,” a poem by Christina Rossetti, accompanied by solo oboe. Their carols were selected from a total of 74 entries received from 28 states.
The carols will be premiered by VocalEssence this weekend in Minneapolis and the concert will be recorded by Minnesota Public Radio for national distribution. Maybe before the season is out we’ll be hearing something besides the crooning voice of Bing Crosby emanating from our radio speakers.