Ten Outstanding Arrangements for the Season

With the onset of December, it means it's time to head downstairs to my Christmas music stash (which is overstocked because of a Christmas music obsession) and begin planning what to play throughout the season. My students and I shopped for their holiday pieces back in October (in preparation for a December 6th recital) so I'm highlighting a few student-level arrangements or collections along with those that I'll be preparing for upcoming services. I could have chosen 88 but for the sake of time, I'm limiting this list to 10 not necessarily released this year, just 10 that I'm favoring in 2013.

1) "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" arr Wendy Stevens

Although Wendy's book All is Calm was published a while ago, it became part of my permanent aug9780800679040Christmas music collection just this year. The biggest dilemma with this collection: WHICH piece to learn first.  Of course, what sold me on the book was the accompanying CD featuring every piece performed by the composer who happens to be a lovely and polished pianist. While some pieces are crafted with delightful and whimsical charm other arrangements are soulful reflections all with surprising but pleasing harmonic twists.

Read the details about Wendy's history with "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear"--the arrangement I determined would be played first out of this collection.

Click here to listen.

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2) "Winter Reverie" by Jennifer Eklund

Jennifer Eklund stocks a catalog full of pleasing original and arranged pieces and collections at her Piano Pronto online store but her piano solo "Winter Reverie" stands out this year. This hauntingly flowing piece was the PERFECT fit for a strongly opinionated high school freshmen. The second she heard this piece, she was in love. For religious reasons, this budding pianist prefers not to play the typical Christmas tunes so "Winter Reverie" was THE solution for a holiday recital piece.


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3) "We Three Kings" arr Wendy Stevens

If you are looking for a showstopper for a holiday recital, this duet is the ticket. Below is a brief clip of two "kings" rehearsing. FYI: this portion features the primo part improvising! A third king will be employed to play all the finger snapping parts on finger cymbals. I hope to get a video of the performance at the recital. Can't think of a duet that has offered more fun for all involved.


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4) "Silent Night" arr James Koerts

A prolific composer of sacred arrangements for piano and more, don't miss Koerts' "Sleep in Heavenly Peace." This soothing arrangement may be the one best suited (this year) for Christmas Eve communion, yes, every year our church service holds communion on Christmas Eve. FYI: I own2006-lorie-line all of his books as well and they are packed with accessible and pleasing pieces.

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5) "Mary Did You Know" arr Lorie Line

I own most of Lorie Line's books and credit her with opening the door to my entrance into playing off the page. Although the video below includes flute, her pieces are mostly for solo piano. As you'll notice, they are easy to arrange and pleasing to the ear.


Click here to order from Lorie Line. Unfortunately, I do not see the book for sale right now that includes "Mary Did You Know" but here's another favorite packed full of Christmas tunes that is part of my basic library.

6) "The First Noel" arr Craig Curry51hJQd1vSmL._SY300_

Craig Curry has created a magical arrangement of this old carol into a rockin' gospel setting. The piece is found in his book entitled  A Jazz Inspired Christmas that includes a CD featuring Curry playing piano with drums and bass guitar. Don't miss the Pdfs of the bass and drum parts on the CD. I'm crossing my fingers that my sons will join me on this one some Sunday in December.

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7) "The Father's Rose" arr Mark Hayes51q49Nvb35L

A Mark Hayes' arrangements never disappoints and this year I selected "The Father's Rose" from his Emmanuel book which (of course) includes numerous other favorites. Are you surprised?

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8) "Christmas Fantasia" arr Heather Sorenson

If I could choose to compose like one certain artist in particular, I believe my choice would be Heather Sorenson. I rarely come across an arrangement of hers that doesn't make me just slightly envious of her knack for arranging. Her book Unto Us a Child seems to have at least one piece that appears on every December 9780834174368_p0_v1_s260x420playlist. This year I just can't resist adding "Christmas Fantasia" to my playlist. I have played every single piece from this book many times with great pleasure.

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9) "Joy to the World" arr Joel Raney

Our church recently called a new associate pastor and to my utter delight his wife, Megan, is an 8133accomplished pianist eager to contribute her skills when needed. We will be presenting this colorful piano/organ duet on Christmas Eve. Raney provides an optional SATB choral introit at the end of this lively duet and even designed handbell parts if you are looking for an elaborate opening to a December service or program.

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10) "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" arr Mercy Me, Viss51DQ2j6KUkL

If you haven't noticed, I'm not your typical pianist, teacher or organist. Often I struggle to find organ selections that please my rather edgy taste. A couple of years ago, I purchased Mercy Me's (a contemporary Christian band) The Christmas Sessions CD and was compelled to arrange their arrangement of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" for organ. This year I dug out my notation and was pleasantly surprised to find it pleasing to the ear and downright fun to play. Here's a sample with more to come once I declare it performance ready.



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Would love to hear your thoughts about any of the books above or

if you have a favorite that wasn't included in the list.