Christmas Night 

By Harrison J. Collins


For Clarinet Octet





It’s been said that “there’s not a lot of good, challenging, Christmas-themed literature for eight clarinets to be found”. Or, at least, that’s what was said by the Illinois State University Symphonic Winds clarinet section when they asked me to compose a Christmas-themed piece for them. Naturally, I sought to mitigate this pressing issue.

Christmas Night is a humble ode to Gustav Holst’s beautiful work for choir and orchestra, Christmas Day. Holst refers to his work as a “fantasy on old carols”. Thus, my work can be considered a “fantasy on a fantasy on old carols”. Night derives its material from the same four carols heard in Day - “Good Christian Men Rejoice”, “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen”, “Come Ye Lofty, Come Ye Lowly”, and “The First Noel” - and is informed in many ways by the stylistic choices made by Holst in his work. The work is also a respectful nod to the Minor Alterations series of works by David Lovrien, as it takes

several of these themes and flips them on their heads by varying their tonalities and meters.

Christmas Night is, finally, meant to be an enjoyable and exciting “barn burner” with a sense of humor and a flair for the dramatic, and a long-awaited solution to the lack of “good, challenging, Christmas-themed literature for eight clarinets”.