"Innovative, fresh and sophisticated settings of holiday music," these pieces will keep keep your mind, heart and fingers engaged during the Christmas season. Read the reviews.
Listen to samples:
- Angels We Have Heard on High
- It Came upon a Midnight Clear
- God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
- Deck the Hall Hoedown
- Ding Dong Merrily on High
Plus 8 more arrangements!
Available Qty: 99
This music is “Two Thumbs Up” — a definite keeper! It’s mid September and for piano teachers, it’s also that time of year to start thinking about Christmas music! This year, I was extremely fortunate to come across “All Is Calm All Is Bright” – a selection of 13 Carols for Piano, set by Wendy Lynn Stevens. These pieces (intermediate to late intermediate) are exquisite arrangements of well known holiday music. Every well crafted carol has its point of view: some jazzy and full of spirited rhythms, some impressionistic, some utilizing beautiful melodies and harmonies that change tonalities so seamlessly – we are carried along into new territories with skill, ease and grace.
All of these pieces have that hard to define or categorize quality of music that has been created by a composer/arranger who possesses a unique voice. Using familiar and traditional Christmas melodies as a jumping off point, Stevens has given us something beautiful and refreshing; a contribution to Christmas music for the piano for years to come.
In All is Calm, All is Bright, Wendy Lynn Stevens captures the many moods of Christmas. One minute you sense the laughter of children running and jumping in excitement, playing games or dancing along to familiar tunes. The next minute, you experience the quiet of the holy child asleep in the manger, while the great expanse of the universe reverently observes the moment.
Stylistically, Stevens paints her musical images from a colorful harmonic palette, using jazz idioms, impressionistic sonorities and whole tone scales, sustained pedal tones and modal progressions, and various combinations of traditional and 20th century techniques. She cleverly weaves tonalities seamlessly in and out of one another and explores the sounds of every register on the keyboard.
Likewise rhythmically, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Stevens keeps things interesting with driving rhythms, swinging 8ths, changing meters, and carefully placed rests. Listening to the CD provides a good foundation, prior to playing the pieces. On the other end of the spectrum, she has a good understanding of what the piano and the performer can do to slow things down, expressing peace and calm through layers of sound.
I consider her level of Moderate to mean moderately difficult, from late-intermediate to early-advanced, depending on the piece. Even though I didn’t particularly notice that fingering and pedaling were omitted, I realize that most students will need help in this regard. Careful analysis of each piece will reveal patterns and hand-shapes that are very comfortable and can be reliable in performance.
It is obvious that Wendy loves what she is doing, and has a talent for arranging. Her creative approach will delight the player and listener alike. I look forward to using her collection to celebrate the Christmas season this year, and for many years to come!
Jennifer Foxx, IMT (Arizona)
“All Is Calm All Is Bright is a refreshing mix of Christmas music. Wendy Lynn Stevens has created a nice mix of many musical moods and styles. One minute you will want to get up and dance with Deck the Halls Hoedown, and the next you will want to sit down and relax by the fireplace with the beautiful melody bells of Silent Night, Holy Night!
These Christmas arrangements are not only pleasing to the performer, but are enjoyable to the listeners who have the opportunity to hear these arrangements. All Is Calm All Is Bright is a great addition for your music library to share in the Christmas spirit year after year.”
“If you and your students are searching for innovative, fresh and sophisticated settings of holiday music, be sure to try this new collection by Wendy Lynn Stevens! There are 13 carol arrangements, ranging from 3 to 7 pages apiece. The varied settings utilize the entire range of the keyboard and offer imaginative suggestions for expressive interpretations. Musical challenges include use of frequent syncopation, changing meters, and a wide variety of key signatures. Spice up your holiday season with these colorful and unexpected settings of well-known and favorite carols. They are sure to bring enjoyment to all!”
I have just spent an extremely pleasant 30 minutes acquainting myself with a new Christmas collection that I would like to share with our forum members…
The collection should be classified as late intermediate to early advanced, although some pieces are easier and some are more difficult than those category ranges. The music is not pedagogical in nature, in that there are no fingerings written in the score. Many of the pieces utilize big chordal sections which fans of Melody Bober will enjoy, but they are thinner, less predictable, and compositionally more exciting. In fact, I haven’t really encountered a Christmas collection this interesting since Margaret Goldston’s “The Virtuosic Christmas Performer”, which coming from me is the Highest Compliment. There are also pieces with interesting jazz elements, reminiscent of Kevin Olson’s wonderful “Jazzed Up! Christmas”. The collection also includes “new age” type sounds while never lowering itself to Narada-like monotonous boredom.
The pieces all run 4-6 pages in length.
Who would use:
Students who are ready to step away from the predictability of method supplements and who thrive on the interesting and fun will love this collection. Teachers have also been given a wonderful teaching tool to use for pointing out compositional devices to students interested in composing.
Teachers will also enjoy having this book for their own personal enjoyment and for use in playing at parties and other holiday events.
Church musicians looking for arrangements of hymn tunes that are often difficult to find will be absolutely delighted with the selections. Congregations that can handle more contemporary sounds will LOVE many of the arrangements. And the collection also includes some “pretty” renditions for the more conservative ear.
Since many of the pieces stunningly use the far upper registers of the piano and rely on the pedal for additional color (including the sostenuto – yay! finally a teaching piece that uses the sostenuto pedal!) I believe the performer will definitely need an acoustic piano for performances.
A list of the carols by American title:
Angels We Have Heard on High
Deck the Hall Hoedown (Shades of Golliwog and Le Petite Negre!)
Ding Dong! Merrily on High
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
Here We Come a-Caroling
In the Bleak Midwinter (MESMERIZING!!!)
Infant Holy, Infant Lowly
It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
Sing we Now of Christmas
The Holly and the Ivy
We Three Kings (A personal favorite!)
Susan Paradis (Texas)
Wendy Lynn Stevens has written a wonderful Christmas book for solo piano, All Is Calm, All Is Bright. The book contains 13 familiar carols arranged in different styles. The arrangements range from a light-hearted jazz arrangement of Angels We Have Heard on High and a foot stomping Deck the Hall Hoedown, to absolutely spellbinding arrangements of In the Bleak Midwinter, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, and Silent Night, among others. In fact, every carol is given a stylistically different, top-notch arrangement, carefully thought out, and composed with impeccable taste. The selection of carols is excellent, showcasing some of the most popular carols as well as the most beautiful.
All Is Calm, All Is Bright is labeled “Moderate”, but that label is for an accomplished pianist. For a student, the level is late intermediate with a few pieces at the intermediate level. Although students will love the music, teachers might notice this book has no finger numbers and there are some places that a teacher will have to help with the fingering. There are frequent changes of keys in some of the arrangements, but nothing that a late intermediate student cannot handle. There are no large hand spans, making this a great book for performers with smaller hands. In fact, the notes fit under the hands in a very pianistic manner and make it a joy to play.
Most books of Christmas arrangements in this price range have only 5 or 6 carols. With 13 carols with fully developed arrangements ranging from 3 to 8 pages in length, All Is Calm, All Is Bright is a good value. A church pianist can use this book for many Christmas seasons. The pieces are easy enough not to require days of practice, yet most of the arrangements are appropriate for church services. A student will have a hard time deciding which piece to choose to work on and might be able to use the book several years. Teachers and other pianists will enjoy playing these arrangements for friends and family and for their own pleasure. There is an excellent CD of the music that is available separately. A student can use the CD to get a feel for the music or decide which piece to work on. It can also be given to anyone who enjoys listening to beautiful piano arrangements of Christmas music.