2021 Staff Holiday Music Picks

Music is such an important part of every holiday. Everyone has their favorites. In this blog post, we’re going to feature some of our staff member’s picks. Please note that staff members are listed in alphabetical order by last name. 

HEATHER ARIAS DE CORDOBA (Interim Director of Marketing & Loyalty Campaigns

Aloha and Mele Kalikimaka! For eight years, I was so fortunate to live and work in Hawai‘i. I was the director of marketing and patron experience for the Hawai‘i Symphony Orchestra, and in my time there, I worked with so many incredible musicians and artists. The holidays are different on-island with warm tropical breezes, family luaus, slippahs instead of stockings and Santa arriving by outrigger canoe. As the saying goes, you can take the girl out of Hawai‘i, but you can’t take Hawai‘i out of the girl – my holiday music pick is Mele Kalikimaka, not the familiar Bing Crosby version, but an island favorite from Grammy-nominated local artist Josh Tatofi. Mele Kalikimaka and Hau’oli Makahiki Hou! 

SHARON LEE (Executive Assistant)  

I unexpectedly stumbled upon this medieval carol a few years ago while listening to holiday music on the radio. I love it for the ancient feel of the music and the flawlessly sung Latin – my mom would have been in tears of joy to hear it! There are several very good recordings of it, but my personal favorite is by the King’s Singers.  

KATHRYN MUDGWAY (Public Relations & Social Media Associate

My first job right out of high school was at Disneyland Park. I was introduced to John Rutter’s “Candlelight Carol” as a member of the Cast Choir one year, and it has been a favorite ever since. “Candlelight Carol” is a special part of the Candlelight Processional, a holiday tradition at both the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts. While our performance was ultimately rained out, I was still able to be a part of the entire process leading up to it. Outside of the Disney affiliation, “Candlelight Carol” was originally published in 1986 and received its most popular recording featuring the Cambridge Singers. You can find it on The John Rutter Christmas Album.  

Honorable Mention: Because it’s always hard picking a favorite, the entire Vince Guaraldi Trio’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas” soundtrack.  

SAM NORDRUM (Patron Programs Associate)  

As a musician, it’s always a challenge to pick only one song as it’s the immense variety of compositions, arrangements, styles and genres that really light up the season for me and my family. For 2021, however, I have to pick Jennifer Pike’s performance of “The Lark Ascending” in London’s National Portrait Gallery. While not necessarily associated with the holidays, Vaughan Williams’s coloring of the musical line evokes a winter landscape in my mind, with the lark taking flight into a light flurry across a fluffy blanket of snow. The lark’s ascent, for me, symbolizes our upward path towards the warmer, brighter days of Spring from life’s Winters. 

JEAN OELRICH (Director of Communications

Christmas is my favorite holiday, especially here in Southern California. It sure beats celebrating Christmas in my hometown of Chicago aka ‘The Windy City,’ where the weather starts turning really nasty in December. There’s something so festive about holiday lights and ornaments on palm trees and cactuses and outdoor caroling when it’s 70 degrees. Also, Southern California has the best classical music radio station in the country: KUSC 91.5 FM. With so much wonderful holiday music to enjoy, I find it impossible to narrow my choice down to just one piece. So, I have to say my Holiday Music Pick is KUSC’s Holiday Spirit Channel, which is available for listening via the internet on your computer and also via apps for your iPhone or Android phone so the music can accompany you wherever you go. The online commercial-free holiday station features an engaging mix of sacred and secular music. And I keep discovering new holiday music that I’ve never heard before. Tune in, check it out and make your holiday merry! 

Listen: Holiday Spirit Channel

CAMERON REEVES (Operations Coordinator

The Nutcracker is a Christmas classic and a personal favorite of mine as the symphony’s Family Musical Morning’s: Nutcracker for Kids is my favorite performance to be a part of. This scene in particular reminds me of the excitement leading up to the holiday season and all the emotions this time of year brings. I love the clarinet solo and it never fails to make me smile. It reminds me of sneaking around in the middle of the night to see if Santa had arrived while not being seen or heard. 

Is your favorite listed here? What does your playlist look like this year? Let us know in the comments below! Have a great holiday season, everyone.