If the Baton Rouge Concert Band’s didn’t play “Sleigh Bell” at its annual Christmas Concert, Director Sheily Bell is afraid of what might happen.
“It’s everyone’s favorite,” Bell says, adding with a laugh, “and I think people would start throwing things at us if we didn’t play it at the end.”
But that’s not to say the program will be exactly the same on Dec. 6 as it was last year.
Bell schedules the music on a five-year rotation, meaning the audience will be listening to a new program at the 3 p.m. performance at St. Joseph Cathedral.
Although Christmas music will dominate, the band also will give a nod to Hannukah.
“We’ve also played music for Kwaanza in the past, and I’m looking for a good arrangement of ‘Feliz Navidad,’ so we can add a Spanish theme to our repertoire,” Bell says. “We try to play songs that will please everyone, and that includes people of all ages.”
But composer Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride” is the mainstay.
“You have to have the horse at the end and the slap of the whip,” Bell says. “Everyone waits for that.”
Joining “Sleigh Ride” this year will be a medley of Christmas-related Broadway music, sacred carols, traditional Christmas favorites such as “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” composer Franz Schubert’s “Ave Maria” and a medley of Christmas tunes titled, “Noel.”
“We’ll also be playing a contemporary arrangement of ‘Carol of the Bells,’” Bell says. “It’s cleverly done, and that’s the kind of things we’re always looking for. There are only so many ways you can play Christmas songs, so it’s great when you find one that’s cleverly done. This arrangement of ‘Carol of the Bells’ has more of a rock feel to it.”
The band also will be playing composer Roy W. Kaighin’s “Santa’s Journey,” which places listeners on Santa’s sleigh as he travels on the backdrop of familiar holiday themes.
“This piece was also cleverly done, and we think it will popular among the audience,” Bell says. “It’s a lot of fun.”