Our Favorite Holiday Songs

It's natural and inevitable - this time of year, the School of Music always ends up on the topic of holiday songs. Whether it's performing them at concerts or listening to them as they happen in our everyday lives, it's an unavoidable phenomenon at "the most wonderful time of the year". Love them or hate them, they are a topic that everyone approaches with a strong opinion.

We caught up with our faculty to ask them for a few of their favorites before we all go our separate ways to celebrate, relax, and prepare for the Spring semester:

Jason Freeman, Professor and Chair of the School of Music: Brian Whitman: A Singular Christmas. It uses machine learning to analyze thousands of recordings of Christmas songs. The resulting tracks attempt to distill the essence of what makes holiday music tick. For me, this album is a beautiful meditation on the boundaries between machine and human intelligence. I also find the unique timbres and harmonic structures to make for fascinating listening.

Cameron "Chip" Crotts, Professor of Practice and Director of Jazz Ensembles:  The Christmas Song - Mel Torme. It has such a nice melody and was written by a famous jazz singer, Mel Torme. Very simple, yet beautiful and haunting. Makes you want to curl up by the fire during the holidays and listen to some jazz with family and friends!

Astrid Bin, Postdoctoral Fellow: The truth is, I despise Christmas Carols. I've been rolling this question around in my head and wondering if there is anything Christmas and music related that does not immediately reduce my joy rather than increase it. And then I remembered Wizards in Winter by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. 

Claire Arthur, Visiting Assistant Professor: One of my favorite Christmas songs is 'Carol of the Bells,' and one of my favorite performance groups is the King's singers. They are an acapella group, so interestingly this group uses zero technology.  In fact, that is one of the reasons I like this group. The simplicity of the musical scene draws attention to the voice, and the amazing versatility of it. For instance, they are able to create bell-like and percussive sounds using only their voices.

Gil Weinberg, Director of Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology: My favorite holiday song is Diana Krall's version of Let It Snow.

Mace Hibbard, Instructor of Jazz: O Holy Night is by far my favorite Christmas Song.  It is really one of my favorite songs of any genre.  The melody is beautiful and the way the song builds throughout has always been impactful to me. Jerry Douglas is one of my favorite musicians.  He is known for being the greatest dobro player ever and has played on thousands of recordings in Nashville. He is just an incredible musician.

Chris Moore, Director of Bands: You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch. Just a classic.

Jerry Ulrich, Director of Choirs: "Dona Nobis Pacem” - the final chorus from B Minor Mass by Johann Sebastian Bach. In the midst of strife-filled world where peace (whether personal, local, or global), seems elusive; this transcendent work offers the prospect of universal HOPE for a world where peace will ultimately triumph over strife…