9 ways to experience holiday music this season
Music can instantly transport us to another time, another place; it is the soundtrack behind our most indelible memories and perhaps never more so than at the holidays when Christmas carols and seasonal songs return like dear friends. Frosty, Rudolph, Santa, the wayward, slightly sloshed grandma who got run over by a reindeer and so many others are an inextricable part of the magic that softens our hearts, lifts our spirits and warms our souls.
In a year when we have never needed that cheer more, however, health and safety protocols in the fight against the spread of COVID-19 advise against attending live concerts and singing in groups. It’s enough to put the bah-humbug in the most Dickensian caroler. Even the people of Whoville got to hold hands and sing after the Grinch stole Christmas.
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Luckily, we have some options for you at a variety of price points including f-r-e-e. To get in the spirit, you can try blasting KOST-FM (103.5) radio’s all-holiday-music-all-the-time programming, or queue up one of 17 holiday-only stations on the Sirius XM app, or check out one or all of the following fun, festive ways to get your fa-la-la-la-la on — with a pandemic-inspired twist. Bring on the figgy pudding.
Tinseltones, a Los Angeles-based caroling company, is rolling out the interactive, online experience “Commanding Carolers,” designed to spread joy, not germs. Their caroling quartet, hosted by Broadway alum David Burnham, will guide virtual guests through a personalized, 25-minute musical adventure staged at a front-door-inspired set that delivers all the holiday feels. Packages start at $1,135. Plan B: Catch the Tinseltones in a special caroling episode of “Sugar Rush Christmas” on Netflix.
The Tinseltones aren’t the only carolers taking their act online. Many Southern California groups are now offering virtual options in addition to private, in-person experiences. Use your web browser to search online to find a “Christmas caroling group” in your area, and be sure to be aware of COVID-19-related restrictions in your area.
During a regular season, Jingle 5, the Los Angeles-based a cappella troupe that puts a pop twist on holiday caroling, can be heard singing in shopping and entertainment venues around the Southland. This year, with public gigs canceled due to the pandemic, it’s releasing a new album, “Sleigh at Home” on its website and delivering personalized singing postcards, or Jinglegrams, to friends and family online for $35.
Straight No Chaser
Holiday a cappella favorite Straight No Chaser spent its time in pandemic shutdown recording “Social Christmasing,” the new album it will perform for live-streamed concerts through Dec. 20. For a little extra jingle, pay to place a life-sized cutout of yourself or a friend in a stage-side audience seat. Almost like being there. Tickets start at $20, with behind-the-scenes VIP upgrades available on the group’s website.
‘The Christmas Caroler Challenge’
Returning to the CW for its second season, “The Christmas Caroler Challenge,” a televised caroling competition, features 10 groups singing festive favorites before a panel of celebrity judges. Episodes will air Dec. 18 and 25 from 8 to 11 p.m. on KTLA. Free.
Holiday Karaoke: Los Angeles Master Chorale
Sing along with Master Chorale musicians during a livestream performance combining favorites from the company’s traditional Festival of Carols and Messiah Sing Along programs, at 7 p.m. Dec. 17. Want to brush up on your harmonizing before the big night? There are instructional videos at LAMasterChorale.org. Free.
The Music Center 61st annual L.A. County Holiday Celebration
Southern California’s cultural showcase of holiday music and traditions, including performances by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, Noteable, Lorenzo Johnson & Praizum, and the Palmdale High School Choral Union and Sunday Night Singers, will be pre-recorded and broadcast on PBS SoCal 1 and streamed online from 3 to 6 p.m. Dec. 24. Free. MusicCenter.org.
The Lil’ Dickens Carolers
There’s still time to catch the Lil’ Dickens Carolers quartets decked out in Dickensian best, and accessorized with matching masks for COVID-era singing. They are currently slated to perform at several places across Orange County before year’s end, including Sendero Marketplace in Ladera Ranch at 30721 Gateway Place, Mission Viejo, from noon to 2 p.m. Dec. 19. They will also be performing on Christmas Eve at the Balboa Bay Resort in Newport Beach, with shows at 2-3 p.m., 4-5 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. Be aware, restrictions for public performances may change.
Past and present members of Pasadena’s Angeles Chorale are reuniting online for a holiday collaboration to celebrate the season and a shared passion for music. Follow them on Facebook @AngelesChorale to receive a free email link for viewing the virtual choir project.
Sing-along songs with Mickey
There’s always Disney’s “Very Merry Christmas Sing Along Songs” on DVD. We found it for $9.99 on Amazon. The lyrics to each song appear on the screen, making it easy to sing along with Mickey and the gang. Serve with cocoa and cookies.
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