Since relocating my base of operations to Chicagoland, I have found a new musical home at Terra Sounds in Glenview, IL. A diverse school of music as well as a recording studio, I have been working with the staff and two of their instructors. I found a good fit with Paul Goldman, an accomplished pianist and charming fellow, who has joined me in revamping Santa Songs for 2012.
With the success of 2011’s edition, I heard feedback on how “educational” my show was. The downside to leaving that impression was that I was more interested in entertaining than being informative. The origins and current state of the Santa tradition is perhaps an interesting lecture subject, but I wanted to create a musical celebration not a talk. The song cycle does indeed tell kind of a story about St. Nick and I’m keeping that structure, but I’m dropping much of the backstory in favor of getting right to the fun.
The program is running about one hour and has a lot of variety. My opening number is “Mistletoe and Holly” which says it’s time for carols and Kris Kringle. Following are two songs about Santa’s origin including an original setting for “A Visit from St. Nicholas”.
The beautiful Irish melody of “Toyland,” by Victor Herbert not only speaks to the generational frission in the holiday but introduces the idea of Santa as a bringer of hope. The homey values of the holiday are celebrated in the -lilting soft-shoe “Pinecones and Holly Berries” followed by a section on children’s letters to Santa which climaxes in the beautiful pop ballad by Jenner and Foster “My Grownup Christmas Wish”.
Kris Kringle counsels Susan Walker to use the gift of her imagination in “Expect Things to Happen” which leads to a section of traditional favorites including “Up on the Rooftop” and “Santa Clause is Coming to Town”
The final section is built around a Christmas Parade beginning with the charming Meredith Willson march “Here’s Love” and climaxing with Gene Autry’s “Here Comes Santa Claus”.
The penultimate ballad, “Yes, Virginia (there is a Santa Claus)” recently won an Emmy Award for best song, and reminds us why we believe. The spirit of this whole enterprise is enhanced by the idea that if Santa didn’t exist, we would have to invent him, and with yours truly we have a jolly and engaging interpreter of that invention.