25 Tunes to Carry You Through the Holidays

Caramoor’s Artistic Directors and Staff stepped away from work to offer their recommendations for great holiday listening this year.

Listen to the playlist here or on Spotify

Check out their favorites and share your own with us using #caramoorholidays!

David Bowie & Bing Crosby “The Little Drummer Boy”

“I’ve always loved the funny staged banter before they begin the actual song. Such an odd pairing considering their musical backgrounds but it works wonderfully. Great vocals by Bowie.”
– Scott Ellison, Education Program Coordinator

José Feliciano “Feliz Navidad”

“I love Latin Music, I love the good cheer of this song, and I love that it is completely unsentimental. I’ve never programmed it or played it, but I do belit it out at the least provocation, usually in the lobby of my building but also when chopping vegetables for salad or as the lights are dimming at the theater.”
– Steven Blier, Artistic Director of the Terrence W. Schwab Vocal Rising Stars

Dame Joan Sutherland  Joy to the World

“Almost every famous opera singer has made a Christmas album (even a good Jewish girl like Beverly Sills made one!). If you’re in the market, two stand out as evergreen classics – Joan Sutherland in her freshest voice and spirit, and…”
– Will Crutchfield, Director of Opera

Leontyne Price  Christmas with Leontyne Price

“Leontyne Price sounding like an angel, with Karajan conducting, no less (surely the only time in his long career he ever deigned to lead the backup for a “pops” album).”
– Will Crutchfield, Director of Opera

Trans-Siberian Orchestra “Old City Bar”

“A great example of Christmas spirit in a very plain setting.”
– Alex Cutrone, Box Office Manager


Caramoor Holiday Tea MusicalesJohn Coltrane “Greensleeves” (live at the Village Vanguard, 1961, with McCoy Tyner & Elvin Jones)

“This is a killer group at its prime. The recordings at the Village Vanguard were a graduation present from my jazz teacher when I left for college and they take me right back to the hours and hours I spent listening to Coltrane and being lost in the sound, the emotion, and the fun with which he played. Music can be so beautiful and at the same time so simple, and this album really reminds me of that beauty.”
– Karla Stewart, Development Associate & Concierge


Straight No Chaser “The 12 Days of Christmas”

“I love Christmas and a cappella music, and this is the best of both worlds.”
– Daria Maurer, Executive Assistant & Board Liaison

Frankie (Half Pint) Jaxon and the Cotton Top Mountain Sanctified Singers “Early On One Christmas Morn”

“I love this tune, and this performance, because it’s so old-timey, jazzy, and fun, fun, fun! Christmas can be an emotionally complicated time of year but listening to this tune is an instant ‘zap’ of good feelings.”
– Paul Rosenblum, Managing Director

Robert Parsons “Ave Maria”

“This is a gorgeous piece that I performed last Saturday with the Master Singers of Westchester that really touched my heart … SO gorgeous!”
– Gina Cassetta-Westenberg, Rosen House Assistant

 Benjamin Britten  “A Ceremony of Carols”

“Britten’s ‘A Ceremony of Carols’ is a biggie for me, because I performed in it during high school. I was part of our Madrigal singers, a very small elite ensemble. I was the pianist for ALL our high school musical performances for three years (musical pit/choir rehearsals, you name it), so I had to learn how to play the challenging harp part on the piano for all of the rehearsals, in addition to my vocal parts.

The winter performance of the Madrigals was presented as fund-raiser, where we ensemble members helped to fund-raise and produce a Renaissance-eque dinner experience at a local church. We did the programs, organized the caterers, did the table seating, and then on the evening sat and acted at the head table as if we were a medieval court, fully in costume mind you. Then we performed in the sanctuary, where ‘A Ceremony of Carols’ accompanied by a professional harpist was the last half of our program. It was a very memorable evening, and in retrospect, steered me on to my work at Caramoor in many, many ways.”
– Junetta Maxfield, Director of Development Operations


(photo by Gabe Palacio)Mannheim Steamroller “Silent Night”

“This instrumental version of a timeless Christmas classic is moving and also haunting. For me, this arrangement evokes many wonderful emotions and entices me to pause and reflect during the busy holiday hustle. Also, Chip Davis, the composer, is from Omaha, NE (my homestate), so I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the full orchestra perform. Chip also formed American Gramaphone, one of the most successful independent music franchises.”
– Christine Bosco, Director of Special Events & Facility Rentals


 

Ralph Vaughan Williams “Fantasia on Christmas Carols”

“As a child, our only Christmas albums were from various early music ensembles and the King’s College Choir. The season of advent to me was a combination of the New Mexican traditions of farolitos, warm biscochitos, the smell of pine and the sounds of ancient choral tradition.

As I began my formal education in music and began the tradition of singing in churches from the start of the advent season through the Christmas Eve candlelight service, my connection to these pieces has only grown deeper and continue to elicit a strong emotional response from me. This piece, a relatively modern work (1912) by the brilliant and prolific Ralph Vaughan Williams is a stunningly crafted fantasia of English folk carols which features a warm baritone solo and a soaring choral section. Nothing has replaced the feeling I get when I hear this piece (particularly the second half of the piece which starts at 4:53)– I get transported back to my childhood living room by the wood burning stove and the soft glow of our chile pepper lights.”
– Ellie Gisler, Manager of Artistic Planning

 Muppet Christmas Carol “It Feels Like Christmas”

“You can’t beat the Muppets for feel-good nostalgia with an appropriate dose of putting life in perspective. The Ghost of Christmas Present just gets it.”
– Emily Buffum, Digital Media Coordinator

Mary J. Blige “This Christmas”

“Certain songs pull you straight into the joy and excitement of holiday mode, and Mary J. Blige’s ‘This Christmas’ is one of them for sure. Whether it’s stringing up decorations, writing holiday wishes to loved ones, or hurrying around New York City to finish shopping, this song belongs on the soundtrack.”
– Morgan Boecher, Communications Marketing Manager

Bing Crosby White Christmas

“I watch The Bing Crosby White Christmas movie classic with Rosemary Clooney and Danny Kaye every season, or else it’s not Christmas to me. Bing was just one of the crooning, comforting Christmas voices of my childhood.”
– Junetta Maxfield, Director of Development Operations


Santa visits CaramoorAaron Neville  “The Bells of St. Mary” and “Louisiana Christmas Day”

“Aaron Neville’s Christmas album, along with the classic Nat King Cole Christmas songs, made up the soundtrack of Christmas in our house growing up. My father is a southerner, and a great singer, so he would croon along with Aaron (not easy to do) while we all cooked, wrapped, and puttered. Aaron’s voice is unusual, but brought some real soul into our New England holiday tradition.”
– Nina Curley, VP & Chief Development Officer


The Pogues “Fairytale of New York”

“This anti-Christmas classic has been with me for many years. For those who have mixed feelings about the holidays (as I do), this song reminds us that goodness sometimes manifests itself in non-traditional ways.”
– Emma Corey, Creative Content Coordinator

Rob Thomas “Merry New York Christmas”

“I love this song because it delivers a new type of message for compassion, understanding and peace during the holidays.”
– Christine Bosco, Director of Special Events & Facility Rentals

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau Weihnachtslieder – Christmas Songs

“For something out-of-the-way, the great Lieder-singer Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau made a typically thoughtful selection of Christmas-related songs from the purely classical repertory. No traditional carols, but some real gems.”
– Will Crutchfield, Artistic Director of Opera

Muppet Christmas Carol  “One More Sleep Til Christmas”

“A relatively new adopted tradition comes from my fiancé’s family: watching The Muppet Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve. Nobody has the Christmas spirit quite like Bob Cratchit (ahem, Kermit).”
– Ellie Gisler, Manager of Artistic Planning

Sara Bareilles & Ingrid Michaelson “Winter Song”

“I played this song on repeat one holiday season when I was far away from someone I was in love with. It was excruciating waiting to get back to them, but this song helped by embracing my sadness while offering warm holiday feelings.”
– Morgan Boecher, Communications Marketing Manager

John Lennon & Yoko Ono “Happy Xmas (War is Over)”

“Another one of my favorite peace-on-earth tunes which includes the Harlem Community Choir. It’s a great reminder that we are personally accountable for peaceful changes in our society.”
– Christine Bosco, Director of Special Events & Facility Rentals


Jazz at Lincoln Center at CaramoorJazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis feat. Cécile McLorin Salvant “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”

“I continue to be smitten by Cécile McLorin Salvant’s singing and stage presence. As a singer myself, I love listening to how she shapes her phrases, interprets classics, and immediately engages the audience. This recording may have been made during the incredible performance I attended with my family last year at Jazz at Lincoln Center. We look forward to welcoming Cécile back to Caramoor in years to come.”
– Jeff Haydon, Chief Executive Officer


 

From our family to yours, happy holidays! We look forward to seeing you in the New Year.

 

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