“This delightful set of seasonal songs is the perfect addition to any choral programme for youth or upper voice choirs celebrating the end of the year! Each song has a powerful message to convey, melodies are beautifully created and very singable, and audiences will enjoy the jazzy style and approachable harmonies.
Artistic Director and Principal Conductor
Commissioned by Finchley Children’s Music Group to mark their 60th anniversary. First performed by FCMG in January 2018 at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London.
2) Reality Check
When asked to compose a set of songs on the theme of winter, it is tempting to write lyrics which describe idyllic snowy scenes, twinkling fairy lights and cosy pubs with open fires but, of course, this picture-perfect impression of winter is a far cry from many people’s reality and, in any case, the repertoire is already bursting at the seams with such songs! What about the increasing numbers of people who struggle emotionally with the lack of daylight hours in winter? What about the pressure to spend more money than we can spare at Christmas, buying presents for family and friends? And what about all of those people who have no home to go to? How do they cope when the temperatures drop?
‘Winter Songs’ is a collection of three contrasting songs which depict a slightly alternative view of winter: Hibernation is a musical theatre-style ballad which sets the scene, describing the desire all humans have surely experienced on cold winter mornings to hide under the duvet and go back to sleep rather than facing the day; this may work for those animals who hibernate through winter but, sadly, it’s not a viable option for us! Reality Check which opens with a powerful riff and a driving groove is written from the perspective of a homeless person in winter; the lyrics were inspired by a close friend whose family always invites a homeless person to join them for Christmas Day. The set of songs concludes with Presence, the idea for which came from a TED talk about our crippling culture of over-spending and how, ultimately, it’s time we need to be spending, not money. In other words: presence not presents.
It is our wish that every young person who sings these songs will not only enjoy the catchy melodies, jazz harmonies and grooves but also be moved by the lyrics to recognise how fortunate many of us are and how we might become more aware of those less fortunate than ourselves.
Joanna Forbes L’Estrange & Alexander L’Estrange