Holiday Harmonies
by Gregg Smith
SA, keyboard, glockenspiel, chimes, cleleste
Laurendale Associates

CH-1088 (full score)
CH-1088D (chorus part)

Review from The Choral Journal, September, 1994

Holiday Harmonies is a three-movement work setting texts from The Oxford Book of Carols. Traditional texts include All Hail to the Days, Green Grows the Holly, and Sir Walter Scott's jubilant On Christmas Eve the Bells Were Rung. The range is d1 to f2, with the tessitura well placed for the voices of children aged ten and above. Of moderate difficulty for young singers, the piece contains changing meters, expressive dynamic treatment, a short recitative-style segment in the second movement, and contrasting tempos. Gregg Smith has written a hauntingly beautiful adagio melody in the middle movement, which provides contrast with the first and third movements' more spirited tempos.

Optional instrumentation includes handbells instead of glockenspiel, piano in place of celeste, and synthesizer substituting for organ. The movements may be performed separately or as a set with a duration of approximately five minutes.

Review by Barbara Tagg


Review from The Choral Journal, September, 1995

This set of three distinctive carols, commissioned by Keynote Arts Associates for the 1993 Children's Holiday Choral Festival, will be a worthwhile challenge for any SA choir, mature or young. The vocal part-writing in each piece is easily within the range capabilities of most young singers and is somewhat repetitious, though chromatically and rhythmically interesting. Each carol employs glockenspiel (or handbells) and chimes. Piano may be substituted for the celeste, while the keyboard part suggests either organ or synthesizer. Each piece is in varied strophic form.

"All Hail to the Days," a traditional Christmas poem in three verses, is set to a lively and angular unison melody; only parts of verse three require part-singing. Tempo and meter changes allow thoughtfully diverse expression. In the second carol, "Green Grows the Holly," the first, second, and fourth verses use close harmonies (though the slightly altered final verse enjoys some rhythmic expansion). Verse three is set in a more free harmonic and rhythmic style. The longest of the three carols, "Green Grows the Holly" lasts two minutes. "On Christmas Eve the Bells Were Rung," the rollicking poem by Sir Walter Scott, is set mostly for unison singing with a bit of two- and three-part writing requiring good balance among the voice parts. As with the first two carols, the ranges are most practical. A key to the successful performance of this piece is rhythmic vitality.

This wonderfully fresh set of new carols may become frequent performance fare for excellent children's choirs. Each of the three carols is available individually, and separate instrumental parts for the full set are available for purchase or rental.

Review by John Buehler