CHRISTMAS MUSIC – A PUBLISHER’S PERSPECTIVE
Each year Cypress receives MANY submissions of Christmas Choral Music. This seasonal theme seems to dominate all other categories of subject matter. We receive arrangements of the classics and a few originals. We need to be very selective.
Here are a few thoughts from Cypress Choral Music editor – Dr. Larry Nickel.
- Christmas concerts are often well attended – as people are winding down for the holiday season. For many it will be the only choir concert they attend all year.
- Most choirs present a Christmas concert each year.
- Composers can arrange most Christmas classics without a concern about copyright restrictions.
- Christmas music is limited by the season. Choirs don’t sing Christmas music in March, for example. There is a small window of time when directors consider and buy new Christmas selections.
- Many of the most beloved Christmas classics are in the public domain – and choirs can often obtain/download them at no charge.
- The market is FLOODED with Christmas options. In the Bleak Mid-Winter, for example, has hundreds of arrangements to choose from.
- Many community choirs are steering away from any hint of religion in their programs (choosing Santa over Nativity)
- Choirs tend to draw on the tried and true selections they have in their choral libraries – for good reason – and here it is; Most choirs present an autumn concert in November and therefore have little more than a month to put their Christmas concert together. Since learning new Christmas music often needs more time than five rehearsals, they gravitate to selections they already know. Have you ever noticed how often the Messiah is performed? The Vancouver Cantata Singers – for example – present Biebl’s Ave Maria EVERY year – and the audience loves it every time.
In short, Christmas music is difficult to market. (I don’t mean to dump snow on the fire) Effective Christmas submissions need to be; 1) user-friendly stunners with 2) pristine recordings to match. (easy to learn with quality and effective results). Yes, this is a tall order. Speaking from experience – this piece by JD Marten has been presented at Christmas concerts. However, it is not occasion-specific and can be performed at any time of year. Publishers look for such “timeless” compositions. When people google The Lesser Joys of Christmas they are led directly to our website. But try googling Silent Night. (It’s difficult to stand out with a new arrangement of a classic title)
My five cents worth,
Dr. Larry Nickel