I've become a big fan of composer Jason Robert Brown's musical theatre scores from seeing productions of Parade and 13 and listening to the cast recording of The Last 5 Years.
You can get a great taste of Brown's music on his Web site, and I always find something interesting poking around there. For example, I had no idea he'd written the Chanukah Suite in 2004. Since the eight-day holiday began last night, it's perfect timing!
Here's how Brown describes the piece:
The Chanukah Suite was borne of two separate desires: 1) to make the celebration of Chanukah an exuberant musical experience that both draws on tradition and looks forward to new ideas; and 2) to write a piece for chorus which combined the "Broadway" idiom in which I most often work with more traditional liturgical choral techniques. Therefore, this challenging medley requires both a strict fidelity to the written rhythms and pitches and a real sense of spontaneity. When it's done in the right spirit, this piece should make Chanukah a powerful, soul-stirring, swinging, rock-and-rolling Festival of Lights.
You can listen to the Chanukah Suite here, in a 2005 performance by the Los Angeles Master Chorale. It's really cool. I love how Brown has taken several traditional holiday songs and turned them into a stirring 8-minute choral work. Don't worry that it's all in Hebrew. There's a translation.
And just in case you have any last-minute Chanukah or Christmas shopping left to do, here's Brown's holiday gift guide.
Happy Chanukah, everyone!