David Chase, Broadway’s top arranger, music director, composer, and every other job title you can think of, has a side hustle – creating legendary holiday pieces for the Boston Pops.
If you’ve seen the Pops, you’ve heard his 12 Days Of Christmas, which seamlessly (and shamelessly) blends, among other works, Beethoven’s Fifth, Oklahoma!, The Magic Flute, Bohemian Rhapsody, and the Hallelujah Chorus into the single most delightful holiday piece ever performed.
The good news for Bostonians and their guests is that the Boston Pops and their partner in holiday cheer, the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, will debut a new piece by Chase in performances from December 5 until Christmas Eve.
Ring Those Christmas Bells is traditionally done as a sleigh ride, as sung by Peggy Lee and others. In Chase’s hands, the piece boards a Christmas train headed for the North Pole.
“It was a conscious decision not to do a medley like 12 Days,” Chase says. “The arrangement is a journey by train, and so you have a lot of moments that remind you of what it’s like to travel by train.”
The journey begins in the station, where the excited chorus is chattering to each other and offering holiday greetings, when suddenly the train arrives.
The piece creates all kinds of experiences about being in a train – uphill and downhill, gathering speed and slowing, going through a tunnel, a Doppler effect as it passes other trains…and then finally arrival.
“Songwriters and prose writers are all in the business of storytelling,” says Chase.
“We’re communicating an ineffable emotional experience to listeners, to take them on a journey of deep emotion or joy or whatever the case may be. We sing because we can’t speak anymore, when we can’t express in words alone the meaning we’re trying to share.”
Chase says that his Ring Those Christmas Bells is somewhere between a pop song and a Broadway song.
“In a pop song,” he explains, “it’s a snapshot. ‘Verse one – I love her. Verse two – I love her. Chorus – I love her.’ And so on.
“In a song written for musical theatre, there’s movement from where we are at the beginning to where we end up. ‘Verse one – I love her. Last verse – Even though she doesn’t love me, I’m going to win her over.’ That’s movement.
“Ring Those Christmas Bells has one main message – the joy of the holiday – but it’s also meant to take the listener on a journey.
“The beautiful thing about Holiday Pops is that it brings joy and a musical experience to people who might not otherwise come to the symphony. I’m thrilled that the Pops will perform both Twelve Days and Ring Those Christmas Bells. As a composer/arranger, you couldn’t ask for more.”
For more information, www.BSO.org/HolidayPops