Symphony of Carols for 8 horns

Posted By on September 28, 2005

Perhaps it would be well advised at this time of year to make mention of a rather recent work of mine entitled “Syphony of Carols” which is for 8 horns (or horn choir, as the case may be). The three movement work was commissioned by my colleague of the American Horn Quartet, Mr. David Johnson, for his etseemed class at the Music School in Winterthur in Switzerland. They premiered it last December with a great deal of success. As is matter-of-course with all things “christmassy”, it was promptly forgotten by Boxing Day.

This work however, is a particular favorite of mine! I put a lot of effort into it and am proud of its compositional content and its immediate appeal with audiences. The first movement is a medley and starts off with an energetic arrangement of “Deck the Halls”. Following a bridge section, the 8 horns are divided into a double choir for “Away in a Manger” (the British melody), “Angels from the Realms of Glory” and “Bring a Torch Jeanette Isabella”. The movement closes with the whistful classic “What Child is This”. For the second movement, quartet 2 leaves the stage to play antiphonaly from a distance, as the melancholy carol “In the Deep Mid-Winter” is answered by “Coventry Carol”. This dramatic effect seems to call to the distant past, reminding the players and the listeners alike of the historic depth of the Christmas tradition. Movement 3 begins with horns 5, 6 and 7 sounding a small motive from “Adeste Fideles” on alphorns (this may also be played on natural horns or even modern horns as well). After a victorious fanfare worthy of a Cecil B. DeMille classic, the 8 horns join together on this festive carol. After a giant baroque style fugue, the festive “Adeste Fideles” eventually reaches “Brucknerian” proportions and the work comes to an end.

It would be incorrect of me not to mention here that this work could prove to be somewhat challenging for certain horn clubs. It is not a collection of cute arrangements of Christmas carols, but was meant to be a serious work based on some of the greatest melodies ever written in the Western hemisphere.

You may order this work from Paddi`s Prints at

About the author


Comments are closed.