This overture was commissioned by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and received five performances in Symphony Hall, Birmingham in December 2010. The following is a short programme note:
The Joy of Christmas aims to capture the joyful anticipation and excitement of the coming festive season, whilst also highlighting its real significance. As well as using familiar carols and Christmas tunes, I have incorporated some slightly lesser known songs, such as the American version of ‘O little town of Bethlehem’ (played by solo violin), the French carol ‘Il est né le Divin Enfant’, the old English ‘Wassail Song’ and, towards the end, a 17th Century German carol ‘All my heart this night rejoices’. To add to the feeling of anticipation, snatches of the children’s song ‘Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat’ are heard from time to time, and observant listeners will spot the inclusion of a number of other well-known Christmas songs throughout the piece.
“Orchestra and conductor Simon Halsey obviously enjoyed The Joy of Christmas, a fun new work by choir member Gordon Thornett with his imaginative treatment of carols old and new.” (Birmingham Post, 24.12.10)
“There was a new work for the orchestra … a medley of Christmas music cleverly woven together into a sort of concerto for orchestra, titled a Festive Overture by Gordon Thornett” Antony Lewis-Crosby (Arts Council artistic review of Christmas Concerts).
Here are some more extracts to listen to:
To hear an extract from the US première of ‘Joy of Christmas’, click here.