Showy Christmas solos

Posted In: Repertoire

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    Gretchen Cover on #197178

    I have been asked to play a Christmas solo for offertory during a church cantata.  I have plowed through a lot of Christmas music and realized I have few showy carols. I have played the ones I have too recently to do a repeat.  To name a couple – O Come All Ye Faithful and Noel Nouvelet arr. Kathryn Cater; Away in the Manger, Carol Medley’s, Angels We Have Heard on High, We Three Kings, arr. Frank Voltz. Cannot play Go Tell It on the Mountain or Silent Night.

    Does anyone have a great Christmas arrangement?




    balfour-knight on #197180

    Hi, Gretchen,

    Have you thought about the Ukrainian Bell Carol?  I do my own high-powered arrangement of it, not written down, but I bet you can find a version of it that would be suitable.  Also, check Salzedo’s Christmas arrangements.  Hope this helps!

    Best wishes my friend,


    carl-swanson on #197182

    Balfour- Are you talking about the Carol of the Bells?  My editor at Carl Fischer Music has been on my case to make an arrangement of that for solo harp.  I just made an arrangement for SATB chorus with harp accompaniment. They’re reviewing it now. Don’t know if it will get published or not. The reason for their interest in that particular song is that Carl Fischer owns the copyright to it!

    By the way, my new edition of the Debussy Danses is now out and available, published by Carl Fischer Music.  If you’re in the market for that piece, you should check it out. Go to my web site.,  to see a sample page.

    Gretchen Cover on #197184

    Balfour, the Salzedo carols are too short. I need 3 -5 minutes.  The only long carol arranged by Salzado  is Adeste Fideles and I don’t have time to get that up to speed. I play the first page of it and half know the rest.  Great solo. BTW, there is a clip on youtube by Josh Layne. Thank you for the good idea about Ukrainian Bell Song.

    Carl, now you have motivation to get your arrangement made of Carol of the Bells.  Congrats on the Debussy Danses. Quite an undertaking.

    charles-nix on #197186

    This is a harp/organ, and you did say solo, but what about A Christmas Tryptich from Vox Coelestis by Samuel Milligan?

    balfour-knight on #197188


    Yes, that is the same piece, the one by Mykota Leontovych.  I agree with Gretchen, you should publish a solo harp version of this piece.

    Harp hugs,


    carl-swanson on #197192

    Balfour- You’ve inspired me to take a crack at it. I told my editor at Carl Fischer when he asked me to do this, that I’m not a composer. I don’t pretend to be. But then I told him that I thought a version for chorus with harp accompaniment would be nice.  The only chorus version they now have is   a cappella.  So I made my arrangement from that, and only changed the choral part slightly.  What I quickly learned is that the piece is so relentlessly fast that the harp part has to be very simple, without any busy work.  After I had arranged the first couple of pages and then tried it out, I started eliminating a lot of stuff I had put in. I had a harpist friend look it over and she took more stuff out.  But I think what we have sounds good. A solo harp arrangement is going to have many of the same issues.

    Gretchen Cover on #197197

    I dug through my Christmas music and came across an arrangement of Ukrainian Bell Carol (Carol of the Bells ) arr. Darhon Rees-Rohrbacher. It is in her Christmas Classics book for lever and pedal harp. Megan Metheney has an arrangement in her Bernard’s Christmas collection titled Rimbell #5/Carol of the Bells. Louise Pratt has an arrangement for lever or pedal harp.

    I  would appreciate suggestions of other carols appropriate for a Christmas cantata setting. And, if anyone has suggestions for other showy Christmas music, feel free to join in.


    Rachel on #197254

    Whitney Dobyns’ “Christmas Present” collection is excellent. There are interesting harmonies and more driving rhythms (particularly The Holly and the Ivy) that are real crowd-pleasers.  Mitch Landy’s “A Christmas Medley” is also very good and well received when I have performed it; best of all, if you play the whole suite, you end up with several minutes of music.  I know Melody’s carries both of those.

    Stephanie Claussen on #197264

    It looks like you’ve got a bunch of great suggestions but I’ll add one more. I just came out with a book of intermediate/advanced carols (mostly French ones) called “Light so Brilliant: Christmas Carols and Tunes for Solo Harp.” I wrote the arrangements for my Christmas album and I think they all make great solos – about 3 minutes each. The book is available through and probably elsewhere in a few weeks. You can listen to audio clips here:

    Gretchen Cover on #197265

    Stephanie,  I just listened to your Carol sound clips and I was impressed with your arrangements, especially Shepherds Shake Off Your Drowsy Sleep. You have a very fresh approach to the familiar carols and there are many I did not know. Thank you for adding more and different music to the Christmas harp repertoire.  For those who like Kim Robertson’s Christmas music and Bernard’s Christmas, you will enjoy these, too.

    I would like to add on your behalf that these carols are for lever harp as well as pedal.

    Stephanie Claussen on #197307

    Thanks for your kind words Gretchen!


    Elizabeth Volpé Bligh on #197339

    Sunita Staneslow has published some wonderful books of Christmas music.

    emma-graham on #197489

    Yolanda Kondonassis has a nice album of Christmas music

    The Yolanda Kondonassis Christmas Collection – Book

    If you don’t need to play something familiar then I recommend “Dream Season” from this book. There’s a clip of the ensemble version here

    for something a bit lighter I love this jazzy medley by Louise Pratt.


    Gretchen Cover on #197509

    Another selection for the holidays:  A Christmas Medley, arr. Mitch Landry. Includes: In Dulci Jubilo, El Desembre Congelat and Un Flambeau, Jeannette Isabelle.

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