CROWDED – BASS AND STRINGS AT THE BOSTON POPS

A Photo a Week Challenge: 12’s a Crowd


Nothing is more crowded — or more difficult to shoot when you are a member of the audience — than an orchestra, not to mention the choir. I’ve been relatively lucky, but I also took so many pictures, at least some of them were sure to come out reasonably well!

Bass and strings and the conductor and chorus at the Boston Pops as Christmas approached

BABY, IT’S COLD OUTSIDE! – RICH PASCHALL

My Top 10 Cold Weather Songs, Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog


With some of the nation having already been visited by cold and snow, it seems like a good time to bring on the winter tunes. Songs by any band with “Cold” in their name is not what we mean here.  Nor shall we include song about loves who are as “Cold As Ice” or running “Against The Wind.”  Our tunes are really songs about winter, cold, and snow.  Some are a bit more symbolic than others, but they will do nicely for my purposes.

Let’s be clear, they are not holiday songs, although some of them only get played in the holiday season.  Since the Christmas holiday season seems to start around Halloween and go until New Year’s Day, I guess there is already ample opportunity to hear some of them.  You will discover that there is no holiday greeting included in the cold and snowy lyrics.  In fact, we will give you some instrumentals just because you can already place them in your winter memory.

Let me start you off with an honorable mention from the movie White Christmas.  No I am not sneaking in a Christmas song.  This is strictly two minutes of wishing for snow by four big name performers:

There are a number of other songs about snow that may not be classics, but are good nonetheless.  Track down “Snow” by Harry Nilsson, for example.  Type in “Snow” in a You Tube search and you will certainly see “Snow (Hey Oh)” by Red Hot Chili Peppers.  On second thought, you better type in “snow songs” so you can avoid all those home-made videos of people stuck in a snow drift.

Here’s our bottom 5 with everything from a Classical sound to traditional, rock to rolling “down the streets of town” by a snow man.  There are winter birds of all kinds if you just let it snow:
10. Wizards of Winter – Trans-Siberian Orchestra
9. Winter – Rolling Stones
8. Frosty the Snowman – by just about everyone with a Christmas Album or two
7. Snowbird – Anne Murray
6. Let It Snow – Frank Sinatra, but there are probably a thousand versions of this by now

The next one earns a place here as much for the back story as anything.  This symbolic “A Winter’s Tale” was written by Freddie Mercury from his hospital room overlooking Lake Geneva, Switzerland.  The visions he describes are what he could see from his room.  He laid down the keyboard tracks and vocals in a Swiss studio two weeks before his death.  Queen later finished the song with their parts.  It was released as the second song on a posthumous album four years later.
5. A Winter’s Tale – Queen

Winter imagery can be found in a lot of songs by Paul Simon, especially from the Simon and Garfunkel years. A Hazy Shade of Winter was certainly one of their biggest hits and earns a spot on my songs of Arctic Weather. You will find an intriguing version by the Bangles from years later, but let’s stick with the original.
4. Hazy Shade of Winter – Simon and Garfunkel

One of the most popular songs of the Christmas season is Sleigh Ride by Leroy Anderson. Although often played only as an instrumental, the lyrics say nothing of the holidays. There is, however, “a birthday party at the home of Farmer Gray.” They are rather seasonal as they “pass around the coffee and the pumpkin pie,” but the song really is about a sleigh ride through the snow. Find a version with someone singing, if you must. Nothing says “Sleigh Ride” like the Boston Pops Orchestra:
3. Sleigh Ride by Leroy Anderson – John Williams & The Boston Pops

If you are not sleigh riding through the snow, perhaps you are walking in a winter wonderland. There are many versions of this seasonal classic, but I have gone for one you may be hearing a lot on your favorite Christmas station.  It’s a more modern take on the classic:
2. Winter Wonderland – Eurythmics

When I think of cold and snow outside, this is my song. There is nothing that inspires me to go out in a storm. While I enjoyed seeing Joseph Gordon-Leavitt do this with Lady Gaga, of all people, and nothing compares to Ricardo Montalban crooning at Esther Williams or Red Skelton at Betty Garrett in the movies, the best version is Dean Martin and anyone. He recorded the song with a number of people, here with Martina McBride
1. Baby, It’s Cold Outside – Dean Marin with Martina McBride


This Frank Loesser penned tune won the Academy Award for the 1949 romantic comedy musical Neptune’s Daughter.

Click on any title to get the song, or hear them all on my playlist here.

SYMPHONY

Symphony is a T-stop in Boston … the underground subway adjacent to Symphony Hall, middle of downtown. I’ve always enjoyed that we have a T-stop called “Symphony.” I’m sure someone could write a little symphonic piece that would somehow represent the subway, the streets, and the hall. Maybe it has already been done. No one tells me anything.

And then, there is Symphony Hall. It’s where the Boston Symphony Orchestra plays, but it’s also where the Boston Pops plays. There’s a major redecoration between symphony and pops season, too.

I think our “symphony winters” have ended, but I will always miss them!

THE BOSTON POPS — MUSIC, CHRISTMAS AND SANTA CLAUS

Today  we are off to our annual excursion to the Boston Pops for the Christmas Concert. So, since I won’t be here to do a lot of writing, here’s photographic trip down memory lane. A year ago, a world ago. Last winter, Symphony Hall, Boston, Massachusetts. With music!

Holiday Visit to the Boston Pops

We were so lucky to be given the gift of five tickets to the Boston Pops. Garry and I, my daughter-in-law Sandy, Kaity and her friend Steph had our own table in Boston’s gorgeous symphony hall where the ghost of Arthur Fiedler still hovers in the wings.

The Girls

Symphony Hall

Balcony filling

Arthur Fiedler was such a fixture in Boston for so long that it seemed that he would live forever and when he passed on and it was time for the Boston Pops to get a new conductor, it was hard to imagine that Keith Lockhart, who seemed such a kid when he first came to Boston … how could he fill those great big shoes?

Waiting

Filling the balconies

But Keith has done beautifully as conductor of the Pops, taking it in new and delightful directions. He has brought a level of energy and excitement … and a sense of joy and fun … that has kept the Boston Pops the première destination for a holiday musical experience.

The Choir is ready

Sing!

The choir was the same all volunteer Tanglewood Choir from years before, bringing their own passion and joy to the show that is always a delight.

String Section

Strings

I think people under-estimate how difficult some of the music done by the Pops really is. Here’s a taste for you.

Their version of “The 12-days of Christmas” is a tour de force. Constant changes of key, speed, rhythm …. well, it’s amazing and so much fun. You can download a full version of it, or get the entire CD.

Let us not forget the traditional performance of “The Night Before Christmas,” with incredible projected illustrations. Preceded by a visit from … guess who … Santa himself.

Keith and St. Nick

Lead in to 12 Days of Christmas with Santa

I got so many great pictures of the concert … and I did it all with my little point and shoot Canon because it was the only camera I had with a long enough lens. It did an astonishing job. I have a lot of respect for these little Canons. Over the years, they have served me very well indeed.

No way to put all the photos all into a single post, but there will be more to come! Meanwhile, enjoy the season, enjoy the music, and enjoy each other!