MELISSA BLOCK, host:
And now a little holiday music. With Christmas just about a week away, some of us may already be tired of the standards, "Joy to the World," "We Wish You a Merry Christmas." Well, our classical music critic, Tom Manoff, says take heart, countless worthy holiday songs aren't overplayed. And here he is with a few of his favorites.
(Soundbite of music)
TOM MANOFF: This haunting piece is from a CD called "Christmas Music from Medieval Hungary." Composed in a style at least 1,000 years old and most likely far older, it's performed to perfection by the vocal group Anonymous 4.
(Soundbite of music)
MANOFF: Born in Boston before the American Revolution, composer William Billings is regarded today as the father of American choral music. His style was often criticized as rough-hewn in comparison to European music. And it is unmistakably American in its sturdy New England hymn style. This energetic Christmas piece called "Shiloh" is conducted by the legendary choral conductor Paul Hillier.
(Soundbite of song, "Shiloh")
Unidentified People: (singing) And Jesus is his name. Lay down your fruits and (unintelligible) across to Bethlehem (unintelligible). And let your wandering (unintelligible) by yonder shining star, by yonder shining star.
MANOFF: Barry and Beth Hall are folk musicians who play medieval music with exuberance. Their album is called "A Feast of Songs: Holiday Music from the Middle Ages." This instrumental is based on the old Christmas carol "Patapan."
(Soundbite of song, "Patapan")
MANOFF: The Kings' College Cambridge Choir is one of the finest choral groups in the world. I play them endlessly throughout the holiday season. Here's a little-known carol�called "A Tender Chute," which, as the words tell us, blooms in the cold bleak winter, turning our darkness into light.
(Soundbite of song, "A Tender Chute")
Unidentified People: (singing) (unintelligible) Blooms in the cold bleak winter, turning our darkness into light.
BLOCK: Tom Manoff celebrates Christmas in Eugene, Oregon. You can find a list of his Christmas music picks at NPR.org.
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