NPR logo Five Tastes Of Classical Holiday Cheer

Music Articles

Five Tastes Of Classical Holiday Cheer

Organist Cameron Carpenter: not your typical holiday celebrant. Michael Hart/courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption
Michael Hart/courtesy of the artist

Organist Cameron Carpenter: not your typical holiday celebrant.

Michael Hart/courtesy of the artist

With Hanukkah and Christmas fast bearing down upon us, we're drowning in musical eggnog. As a palate cleanser, we thought we'd burrow down into the depths of YouTube for some quick nips of classical cheer.

Have you found other great holiday music clips online? Share them with us in the comments section.

Five Jewels Of Yuletide YouTubery

Cover for Cameron Live!

Cameron Carpenter: 'Sleigh Ride'

  • Song:
  • from Cameron Live!
  • by Cameron Carpenter

The head-turning American organist has offered up a singular, delightfully loony take on Leroy Anderson's classic 'Sleigh Ride.' In the holiday spirit, all proceeds from download purchases of this version are going to Carpenter's alma mater, The American Boychoir School in Princeton, NJ. (And check out the custom shoes!)

Cameron Carpenter's organ arrangement of 'Sleigh Ride.'

Cameron Carpenter YouTube

Buy Featured Music

Song
Cameron Live!
Album
Cameron Live!
Artist
Cameron Carpenter
Label
Telarc Distribution
Released
2010

Your purchase helps support NPR programming. How?

Cover for Unsilent Night

Phil Kline: 'Unsilent Night'

  • Song:
  • from Unsilent Night
  • by Phil Kline

As he describes in this video, New York-based composer Phil Kline first invited a group of friends to help create a Yuletide "mobile sound sculpture" in 1992. Since then, every December, participants obtain one of four tracks created by Kline, then walk along a designated street course with boomboxes playing the different parts simultaneously in what Kline likens to a modern caroling session. "Unsilent Nights" are taking place in cities and towns across North America this month — Bill Murray turned up at the one in Manhattan.

Composer Phil Kline's 'Unsilent Night.'

Arts And Ideas YouTube

Buy Featured Music

Song
Unsilent Night
Album
Unsilent Night
Artist
Phil Kline
Label
Egrem

Your purchase helps support NPR programming. How?

Cover for George Frideric Handel: Messiah

'Messiah' At The Mall

  • Song:
  • from George Frideric Handel: Messiah
  • by John Eliot Gardiner

Last winter, a photography business in Ontario, Canada, near Niagara Falls, wanted to spread some holiday cheer — so they enlisted a local community choir for a flash-mob performance of the "Hallelujah Chorus" from Handel's Messiah. The performance was a huge viral hit, viewed more than 35 million times on YouTube.

A memorable day at a mall food court.

Alphabet Photography YouTube

Buy Featured Music

Song
George Frideric Handel: Messiah
Album
George Frideric Handel: Messiah
Artist
John Eliot Gardiner
Label
Philips
Released
2010

Your purchase helps support NPR programming. How?

Cover for Tchaikovsky, The Nutcracker

Berlin Philharmonic: Tchaikovsky, 'The Nutcracker'

  • Song:
  • from Tchaikovsky, The Nutcracker
  • by Simon Rattle

You'll have to forgive us the obvious pun, but in 2010, Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic released a really marvelous — cracking, even — recording of Tchaikovsky's beloved holiday ballet. Here are some excerpts plus insider insights, such as this one from Rattle: "For any normal [non-ballet] symphony orchestra, it is a nightmare to play."

EMI Classics YouTube

Buy Featured Music

Song
Tchaikovsky, The Nutcracker
Album
Tchaikovsky, The Nutcracker
Artist
Simon Rattle
Label
EMI Classics

Your purchase helps support NPR programming. How?

Cover for Echo: Glory of Gabrieli

Canadian Brass: Scheidt, 'Echo ad manuale duplex'

  • Song:
  • from Echo: Glory of Gabrieli
  • by Canadian Brass

This is not strictly Christmas music per se — but there are few things that say "holiday" more than a brass spectacular. Here the phenomenal Canadian Brass and a few friends play music by the German early Baroque composer Samuel Scheidt.

The Canadian Brass and friends.

Canadian Brass YouTube

Buy Featured Music

Song
Echo: Glory of Gabrieli
Album
Echo: Glory of Gabrieli
Artist
Canadian Brass
Label
Opening Day

Your purchase helps support NPR programming. How?