Music for a Winter Garden
October 29, 2019 1:05 PM   Subscribe

I'm seeking music to be played outdoors as background classical-ish music at a secular public winter holiday display in a garden. I want to include music from both Christian/Christmas and non-Christian/non-Christmas traditions that would be suitable for that kind of setting. We are located in the US in a city that has a diverse population and we see visitors representative of that diversity. I'm hoping that people who come can find something that makes them happy in the playlist.

In addition to Christmas music, I want non-Christmas music. I want Hanukkah and other winter-associated music as well. I also realize that there are cultures/traditions/religions that don't have winter holiday music and I'd like to be able to include happy celebratory music from those as well. The gardens where I work were based on Indo-Persian gardens and we very much want to include music from India and Iran specifically. But I don't want to exclude other musics from other countries/regions/traditions.

I'd like to not play something that would be considered inappropriate - ie, last year someone asked me if 'Avinu Malkeinu' would be ok to include.

On top of all of this is the fact that my boss is someone who just listens to Euro-centric classical music and doesn't like jazz, pop, etc. He's the final arbiter of this whole thing. He wants things that would be described as classical music - and I'd like to try to use the phrase classical music not just as its Euro-centric definition but as in things like classical Indian music etc.

Please help me find happy music for the garden.
Thank you.
posted by sciencegeek to Media & Arts (16 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Some of the tunes from Charlie Brown Christmas, like this and this, are not specifically "Christmas music" but to me, a non-Christian, I feel like they always evoke "winter" and "holidays."

(Some/many of the songs on the soundtrack are explicitly Christmas/Christian-related.)
posted by BlahLaLa at 1:13 PM on October 29, 2019 [2 favorites]

For whatever reason a bunch of Tord Gustavsen's stuff feels "wintery" to me. like good music for watching snow fall.
posted by Dr. Twist at 1:25 PM on October 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

'Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence/Forbidden Colours' by Ryuchi Sakamoto (live piano instrumental version) is something I'd put on every year around the Solstice. It's a little more reflective than most carols. It definitely has that Western Classical vibe, but with a slight twist.
posted by ovvl at 1:45 PM on October 29, 2019

I'm a big fan of Passages by Ravi Shankar and Philip Glass.
posted by exogenous at 1:59 PM on October 29, 2019

Is Schubert's Winterreise too Euro and/or too obvious?
posted by kevinbelt at 2:07 PM on October 29, 2019

The Windham Hill Winter's Solstice series is mostly Christmas music with some non-religious wintry selections, but they include a lot of unusual carols and instrumental arrangements.
posted by momus_window at 2:12 PM on October 29, 2019 [3 favorites]

The Lieutenant Kije Suite has a Christmasy sound to me.
posted by saladin at 2:25 PM on October 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

Vincent Persichetti's Winter Cantata.

Benjamin Britten's Ceremony of Carols.
posted by humbug at 2:35 PM on October 29, 2019

Loreena McKennitt -- To Drive the Cold Winter Away

I particularly like "The Seasons," "The King," and "Balulalow."

Also by Loreena McKennitt
Parallel Dreams -- "Dickens Dublin," and "Ancient Pines."
posted by TrishaU at 4:09 PM on October 29, 2019 [2 favorites]

The Nutcracker.
posted by SemiSalt at 5:06 PM on October 29, 2019 [2 favorites]

Seasons of Love from Rent!
posted by Ostara at 8:38 PM on October 29, 2019

The Windham Hill Celtic Christmas albums are classics in our house, too.

Mary Chapin Carpenter's "Come Darkness, Come Light" is not a conventional Christmas album, but it is quite beautiful and thoughtful.
posted by Ostara at 8:46 PM on October 29, 2019

The Winter's Solstice albums came immediately to mind for me as well.

Something that caught me by surprise recently was Snowball Fight from Two Steps From Hell's "Dragon" album. Very wintery, in an ice-skating, tobogganing, snowball-fighting way.
posted by lhauser at 9:31 PM on October 29, 2019

Just putting it out there that my (non-white immigrant) people looooove everything in the Viennese NYE Galas.
posted by batter_my_heart at 10:10 PM on October 29, 2019

Thanks for not playing "Avinu Malkeinu." The issue you're going to run into with Chanukah music is that it's not a big deal in Judaism, so there's not much music, and it's not to your director's taste. Wikipedia has a decent list.
posted by marfa, texas at 5:40 AM on October 30, 2019

I have a funny feeling that by "classical" music, your boss just means "instrumental". So in that vein:

Parts of Prokofiev's Lieutenant Kijé Suite have a "wintry" feel, and even influenced the Greg Lake song I Believe in Father Christmas (the instrumental break between the verses is directly lifted from the "Troika" portion).

The Windham Hill album "December" is all piano solos, some classical pieces, some carols, some original compositions. I'm personally quite fond of the three-part suite Night.

Movie soundtracks may also work - I am trying to think of examples and coming short, but you may want to explore the soundtrack to the film Winter's Tale. Have just listened to a handful of tracks and couple of the tracks thus far seem "generic movie music", but a couple show promise. (The film didn't do that great, alas; the book it's based on, while lovely and named "A Winter's Tale", isn't as such about winter.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:56 AM on November 2, 2019

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