Tag Archives: Christmas

Matthew Swann: What makes Christmas Christmas?

What is it about Christmas that makes us feel so… nostalgic? ‘Warm and fuzzy’? Simultaneously happy and tearful? Or, at the risk of using a much abused and misused, currently-in-vogue Danish word, ‘hygge’?

It’s difficult to define what that peculiarly Christmassy feeling is (and undoubtedly there have been many learned articles on the subject) but certainly music plays a huge role in it. The music we are used to playing and singing at Christmas invokes all sorts of folk, family and childhood memories and invokes all those difficult to define emotions and feelings.

For the CLS Christmas concert at St John’s Smith Square, ‘An English Folk Christmas by Candlelight’, we are unashamedly exploring these memories, via the incredible heritage of folk music that our classical composers have mined for inspiration.

And here I have an admission to make. While in my younger days, I claimed to loathe Christmas music and all the various trappings that came with it, and spend much of the rest of the year trying to create innovative performances that bring in new audiences… when it comes to Christmas I do like the traditional.

Not big, brash, shiny tinsel Christmas celebrations, but those very English tunes that the likes of Vaughan Williams used to such great effect in his Fantasia on Christmas Carols. There is something uniquely nostalgic and warm about their sound, especially when paired with a stunning venue and candlelight.

Matthew Swann – CLS Chief Executive

Join CLS and the Holst Singers for An English Folk Christmas at St John’s Smith Square on Tuesday 20 December, 7.30pm. Tickets at cls.co.uk.


It’s Party time!

It’s our last week in the office before the Christmas break, and we’re all feeling particularly festive. We’re off on our Christmas party this afternoon, and to get ourselves fully into the party spirit, we’ve put together this (longer than anticipated) playlist of some of our Christmas favourites. We hope you enjoy it!

Wishing you all a happy and peaceful Christmas and New Year from all of us at City of London Sinfonia!

Crash Bang Wallop! Let it Snow

Our popular family concert series, Crash Bang Wallop! returns with a seasonal special on 12 December. Join our wonderful Orchestra and animateur Claire as they work together to bring snowy weather to Cadogan Hall with lots of festive favourites and sing-a-long carols. 

Take a look at our playlist which features music from the concert, including music for a sleigh ride from father and son, Leopold and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart…


Crash Bang Wallop! Let it Snow
Saturday 12 December 2015, 11am
Pre-concert activities from 10am
Cadogan Hall, 5 Sloane Terrace, SW1X 9DJ
Adults £10, Children £8, Family £30 (for 4 tickets)
Box Office cadoganhall.com / 020 7730 4500

Spotlight on our recent education projects with Dame Felicity Lott

Last week our new Patron, Dame Felicity Lott sang in several of our recent Meet the Music projects with young kids, including two concerts for Key Stage 1 children in Tower Hamlets and Harrow. Preceded by a number of workshops with our animateur-in-residence, Claire Henry, the projects were curated as an interactive introduction to the idea of the orchestra, with special activities to demonstrate different instruments and sounds.

Photographs of the culminatory concert in Tower Hamlets, December 2014 taken by Philip Maglieri

Centred on the theme of the ‘Winter Star’, Claire presented the concert as an Arctic explorer who had to navigate her way through the cold blizzards to try and find the star to put on top of the tree! Wowing over 240 children aged 4 – 7 with a heart-pulling performance of Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Felicity Lott acted as the ‘guiding light’ to help find the final piece of star Claire needed! Known to the kids as ‘the woman with the most beautiful voice in the world’, the anticipation and excitement for them to meet the famous soprano was absolutely amazing!

Feedback and drawings from project participants, December 2014

In discussion with Classic FM last week as part of a live web chat, Felicity commented on her involvement with CLS education projects:

‘Last year I went to see CLS do a programme for children in a church in Shadwell. It was terrific and the orchestra looked to be having a great time playing for the children, who were wide-eyed and enthusiastic. I’ve always wanted to …do something useful, maybe, but wouldn’t know how to go into a classroom and sing for the children- they’d laugh me out of the room! This seems like a good way-in, and the orchestra is really committed to this educational work, which is vital both for building up audiences and more importantly, because music is such a civilising, beneficial art form. Singing together, playing together, without competing, can be so useful and fulfilling, and everyone should know it’s there and can be for them if they like it.’

Seasons Greetings!

We’d like to wish all our supporters and audiences a very Happy Christmas and look forward to seeing you at the Natural / Supernatural festival in 2014. Please note the office will close on Monday 23 December and will reopen on Thursday 2 Blog cardJanuary 2014.

Card design by Steph Ramplin stephramplin.blogspot.co.uk

The eight days of Christmas Crash Bang Wallop!

Everyone has a special something that puts them in the mood for Christmas. For some it’s a favourite Christmas advert on the TV, for others it’s hearing Mariah’s infamous warblings on All I Want For Christmas, and for many it’s large quantities of mulled wine. However, the team at City of London Sinfonia defy you to find anything more sweet, cute and Christmassy than the following snaps, taken at our most recent Christmas-themed Crash Bang Wallop! Behold, the eight days of Crash Bang Wallop! Christmas:

Crash Bang Wallop

On the first day of Christmas, Crash Bang Wallop! gave to me, two reindeer coloring trees!

Crash Bang Wallop

On the second day of Christmas, Crash Bang Wallop! gave to me, a hall decked with lights…

Crash Bang Wallop

On the third day of Christmas, Crash Bang Wallop! gave to me, a very precious cabasa…

Crash Bang Wallop

On the fourth day on Christmas, Crash Bang Wallop! gave to me, Christmas badges…

Crash Bang Wallop

On the fifth day of Christmas, Crash Bang Wallop! gave to me, an Orchestra looking extremely dashing in their festive hats…

Crash Bang Wallop

On the sixth day of Christmas, Crash Bang Wallop! gave to me, a dazzling ballerina…

Crash Bang Wallop

On the seventh day of Christmas, Crash Bang Wallop! gave to me, a surprise guest…

Crash Bang Wallop

On the eighth day of Christmas, Crash Bang Wallop! gave to me, Father Christmas and a sack of CDs!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New year from everyone at City of London Sinfonia. We hope your Christmas is a good one, filled with mince pies, brussels sprouts and most importantly, music!

All images James Berry

Festive Playlist

With Christmas approaching, our thoughts have turned to festive music! We know how much you love our playlists, so we’ve put together a good mix of our favourite seasonal tunes from all across the genres. Guaranteed to put you in a festive mood!

Is there any essential listening we’ve missed?

Listen to the Spotify playlist here


Angels We Have Heard on High – traditional 

White Christmas – Bing Crosby 

In the Bleak Midwinter – Darke 

The Christmas Song – Nat King Cole

Away in a Manger – traditional 

Let it Snow! – Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne 

O Holy Night – Adam 

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas  – Bing Crosby 

A Hymn to the Virgin – Britten 

Once in Royal David’s City – traditional 

Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – Darlene Love 

The Holly and the Ivy – traditional 

Fairytale of New York – The Pogues 

Walking in the Air – Howard Blake 

Hanukkah, O Hanukkah – Barenaked Ladies

Coventry Carol – traditional

Baby it’s Cold Outside – Frank Loesser

Ceremony of Carols: This Little Babe – Britten

Christmas Time – The Darkness

Silent Night – traditional

Fantasia on Christmas Carols – Vaughan Williams

Ding Dong Merrily On High – Radcliffe Woodward

Only One More Sleep – The Muppets