Which composer do you most associate with Christmas?  As one of the most celebrated composers of Christmas carols alive today, John Rutter’s carols have become as synonymous with Christmas as a mulled wine-stained jumper!…and for good reason, here are 5 festive facts about John Rutter’s Christmas music:

  • The popularity of John Rutter’s Christmas music lead him to be dubbed ‘The Composer Who Owns Christmas’ by the New York Times.
  • He composed his famous Shepherd’s Pipe Carol while still at school.
  • David Willcocks heard the carol when Rutter was a student at Cambridge and requested a copy of the manuscript. Before Rutter’s student days were up, the carol was published and recorded by EMI!
  • Willcocks went on to invite Rutter to join him as co-editor of the hugely influential Carols for Choirs anthologies that still largely determine what is sung at this time of year in churches worldwide.
  • 100 Carols for Choirs is Oxford University Press’ most-hired music in the lead up to the festive period. In 2018, two of Rutter’s Carol’s and a two of his arrangements appeared in the OUP’s ten top-hired carols and Christmas pieces.

“Christmas is still very dear in my heart,” Rutter says. “It’s kind of the world as we all wish it could be, for just those precious few days each year. A time of stillness and yet of rejoicing. So Christmas will always be very special in my heart and it’s always been celebrated in music.”

Come and hear some of Rutter’s most popular carols performed at MfE’s Christmas is Coming concert at the Albert Hall on Sunday 15 December.  The programme will also include performances of Christmas music by the Nottingham Community Voices, East of England Singers and the ‘Vocals!’ youth choirs.  Tickets are available online here or by phoning the office on 0115 958 9312.

  • Saturday 7 December is going to be a busy day for MfE: our Community Voices will be ‘carolling’ in Market Square from 10.30am – 12 noon (all welcome!) while MfE’s youth wind and string ensembles will be performing their Christmas concert at Kingswood Methodist Church at 3.30pm, and the EOES will be performing a Festive Baroque Christmas concert at Beeston Parish Church at 7.30pm. Tickets for all concerts are available on our website or by phoning the office on 0115 9589312.
  • And for those of you who feel it is still too early to be thinking about Christmas, next year marks John Rutter’s 75th birthday so we’ll be likely to hear a lot of his music throughout the year, perhaps even including this well-meant spoof!… https://www.classicfm.com/composers/rutter/choir-sings-john-i-cant-believe-its-not-rutter/

Have a good week!

Your friends at MfE.



www.music-for-everyone.org | 0115 9589312

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#MfEMondays are Music for Everyone’s new weekly emails designed to keep you up to date with MfE events & to circulate interesting finds, special features, and motivational moments for your Mondays! We are aiming to send out something new each week.

cropped-logo_darkblue_green-copy.jpgThis was Phil Smith’s suggestion to the East of England Singers (EOES) when singing Bruckner’s Sanctus from his Mass No 2 in E minor on Saturday. The acoustic of St John’s Church, Carrington, helped the choir to achieve a soaring sound. Thank you to Phil for rehearsing and guest conducting EOES for this concert, and welcome back to the tenor section from now on.


Freed from conducting, Angela joined the altos, she also sang a duet in the Stravinsky with her soprano daughter, Sarah. The New Classical Wind Ensemble was in fine form, and the audience expressed much appreciation of the programme. It was great to see familiar and new faces, thank you for supporting us and we hope you enjoyed the concert as much as we did.

Our next concert date is Saturday 5th December, St Giles Church, West Bridgford. The programme will include Bach’s glorious Magnificat in D with the Christmas interpolations, Vaughan Williams’ very English Fantasia on Christmas Carols and Torelli’s Concerto in forma di pastorale, per il Santo Natale. What better way to bring brightness to December days? Warming mulled wine or juice and mince pies will be served during the interval. We look forward to seeing you there. Click here for tickets.

Here are eight of the Ensemble playing Mozart’s Serenade in C minor, K388, conducted by Phil Smith.


cropped-logo_darkblue_green-copy.jpg “Inspiration is a guest that does not willingly visit the lazy.” Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) was a prolific composer: ballet scores, e.g. Swan Lake and The Nutcracker, concerti for the shviolin and piano, six symphonies and other orchestral works. He wrote songs, instrumental music and opera, the best known of which is Eugene Onegin. He was a troubled man from a young age until his death. Whether he died from natural causes or suicide remains a point of conjecture. He wrote music of passion and deep emotion, but by no means all melancholic. Music, it’s good for the soul.

The original version of Legend (Легенда) (also known as Crown of Roses), which we will be singing on Saturday, appeared first in Tchaikovsky’s 1882 collection, 16 Songs for Children.  He arranged it for SATB chorus in 1889. The words tell a legendary story of children meeting with Jesus. The verses foreshadow the Easter story, yet the piece is often sung at Christmas, perhaps because it begins “When Jesus Christ was yet a child”.

No doubt we will be looking at how to make the oh so important opening of Legend sound beautiful. ‘When’ is not an easy word to start on, it can easily sound from too far back, in the throat and a bit strangled. The soft and breathy consonants of ‘wh’ can be lost. A further problem is that the note for both ‘When’ and ‘Je-‘ is the same, and  whenever a note is repeated, there is a risk that the second occurrence will come out a shade flat. This can be compounded by a descending phrase, which is just what the sopranos have. Preventing the tuning slipping downwards comes by supporting the breath with the body – firm up those abs and support the diaphragm folks – and the mind. The mind? Yes! Think up and hold up, and all being well the notes will stay in tune. See what you think of the opening in this version:


This is the final Simply Romantic blog post before the day itself, but you might like to take a look at these videos in the meantime. See you all on Saturday, we’re looking forward to it. There will be a review entry of the day itself and then news about the East of England Singers’ concert on the 17th of October at St John’s, Carrington – Purcell, Mozart, Bruckner and Stravinsky. Voices, drums, woodwind and brass. Not to be missed!

(If you are reading this blog post in the emailed format, the video of Legend may not show. Click through to the website to watch it.)