Alto Saxophone from Ye Olde Carol-Singers’ Compendium - The First Noël
And at last, the First Noël! The final arrangement in the series of carols for wind quartet entitled "Ye Olde Carol-Singers’ Compendium". By now, any group that has worked its way through the previous eight arrangements should have a lively and varied repertoire ready for the Festive Season - whether as part of a local carol-singing initiative or for inclusion in school concerts. The combination of two flutes, clarinet and alto sax reflects the instruments available when I first started carol-singing round our village. However, the arrangements can easily be adapted with an oboe replacing one of the flutes or supplanting the clarinet with another alto sax or vice versa - just watch the dynamics!
Some practical advice on outdoor performances was included with the first two arrangements and is worth repeating here:
1. Each arrangement has a brief lead-in to ensure the singers come in together, on time and in key. 2. The arrangements are designed to accompany two verses of each carol - if the group wishes to sing and play succeeding verses, agree this beforehand or utter chaos will reign…. 3. Plasticizing the pages is a sensible precaution against the music dissolving in the rain! 4. Test your lighting and music stands before you start - reading sheet music by street lamps in the wind and rain is an acquired skill. 5. The alto sax can easily dominate the group. The player should be placed towards the back of the quartet and take care to follow the dynamic markings. 6. Tuning alters dramatically with changes in temperature - if invited indoors (as our groups often were), a quick check before launching into the next carol can avoid a disastrous lurch into bitonality! 7. Pubs, nursing homes and retirement accommodation usually extend a warm welcome to carol-singers but do contact them beforehand to get permission and fix a date and time. With luck, they may have mince pies and mulled wine waiting!! 8. Finally, as a bonus I’ve included 8 bars of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" to round off each visit on a suitably high note.
I hope these arrangements help promote and preserve the ancient and joyous tradition of neighbourhood carol-singing. Feel free to e-mail me to say how you get on!!
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