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A Holiday Playlist from the Apollo Chorus

BY: Stephanie McDaniel | Dec 5, 2014
A Holiday Playlist from the Apollo Chorus

As the oldest choir in Chicago, the Apollo Chorus has performed its share of Christmas music. Every year since its founding in 1872, the chorus has sung Handel’s Messiah to a rapt audience, and more recently the singers have performed at Christkindlmarket and the Art Institute of Chicago’s annual Wreathing of the Lions.

We sat down with Apollo Chorus conductor Stephen Alltop to get his take on a hotly debated topic: which holiday songs are the best? Alltop responded with a playlist ranging from Bach to Dan Fogelberg. As it turns out, he loves almost every holiday song, though he could certainly do without “Little Drummer Boy.”

1. “The Christmas Song”

“I don't very often get to perform ���The Christmas Song.’ I guess I have a secret desire to sing the solo part, you know, like Bing Crosby.”

2. “Hallelujah Chorus”

“When you hear [this piece] with the flow of the music as Handel composed it, it can be incredibly powerful.”

3. “Lo’ How a Rose e’er Blooming”

“It's not something composed recently. It was written by somebody named Michael Praetorius over 400 years ago, and I really love it.”

4. “Away in a Manger”

“I've always really loved ‘Away in a Manger’ ... both versions it’s sung in.”

5. J. S. Bach – Christmas Oratorio

“It's like the whole Christmas story in six parts—you just have to set aside three hours of your life to listen to it.”


6. “Do You Hear What I Hear?”

“I like the melody … it has a really nice kind of flow with the harmony.”

7. Dan Fogelberg – “Same Auld Lang Syne”

“It's not exactly a holiday song … [but] it's a great story about somebody who meets their former lover on [Christmas] Eve. They kind of reconnect and it brings back all of these emotions for him.”

8. “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing”

“I used to sing this to my daughter every night when she was going to bed—not just at Christmas, but year-round because she liked it so much.”

9. “Infant Holy, Infant Lowly”

“I love the harmony of this carol. It's very lovely and very tender—it’s a lullaby.”

10. “Twelve Days of Christmas”

“Audiences love our rendition of ‘Twelve Days of Christmas.’ I divide the audience into the different parts, and we usually get some kids up there to be judges to see which part does the best. It's a lot of fun.”

Listen to the entire playlist here.

Itching to hear some music this holiday season? Discover concert and symphony deals in your city with Groupon.

Heading to a holiday concert? Read more on the The Guide:

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