I’m not sure how many new Christmas songs can sit alongside the classics and hold their own, but this one can. Please take a look and listen to A Canadian Christmas by @sureshtrumpet when you have a chance. It will make your heart swell, I promise! ❤️🎄 pic.twitter.com/KLVzrCENSV
…About 10 years ago, I went on a solo road trip from Ontario to Alberta and back. That was such a profoundly life-changing experience for me, it took me a few years to process those emotions enough to start expressing them in a meaningful way.
The youngest person singing on this recording is only 4 years old. The oldest is 81. It’s still a little surreal and overwhelming for me to listen to all of these voices and watch all of these faces perform music that was composed for them to enjoy together. Many of the singers and instrumentalists on this recording are friends of mine, but many are people who I’ve never met in person. We were all just brought together by this music and the desire to create something special for Canadians to enjoy every December.
“Hope” doesn’t pay the bills for anyone, and not being able to see most of our loved ones in person has made this year difficult for a lot of people, especially during the holidays. I don’t want to dismiss any of the losses or struggles that anyone has suffered during this worldwide crisis. The goal of this project was never to ignore any of that. But nothing has brought joy into my life like music has, so I just desperately wanted to make the best of this unique opportunity to bring Canadians together with something we could all share and be proud of when we remember this “time so often wrought with fear”, when “the world’s despair consumed our thoughts”.
We’re almost a year into a global pandemic and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, yet more than 160 Canadians took the time to learn, practice, and record a song by someone who most people have never even heard of….and at a time when most people are too exhausted to even think about doing something like this, they all made it sound like an old holiday classic that’s secretly been around forever.
I’m sorry that I have no words to sufficiently convey the everlasting gratitude that I feel for everyone who helped with this project. So, I will quickly say a simple “thank you all so much” to all of them, hope that they’re all proud of the work they did on this, and let them (and the rest of you) experience the magical results of their generosity and artistry…But watch it a few times, because there are little moments throughout the video for you to enjoy.
(p.s. EXTRA gratitude to Marc Koecher of MK Soundworks & MK Photographics. Marc has worked on this song more than almost anyone since the first time I played the MIDI instrumental demo for him back in early 2017. None of this would be possible without his work and expertise. He’s VERY good at his job, if you need an audio engineer, photographer, or videographer, Marc is a master of all trades and jack of none.
Additional thanks to Byron Pascoe of Edwards Creative Law, and Tereza Olivero & Clare Johnston of ACTRA for providing some last minute but crucial behind-the-scenes assistance with paperwork that helped us release the video on time.)
November 16, 2020
Thank you to everyone who’s recorded and sent in their video for the last chorus of A Canadian Christmas. Now the work of filming the orchestra and choir members, mixing audio, and editing video continues, to finish everything in time for this December.
OK Canada, sorry to drop Christmas stuff on you in October, but I wanted to put together a few holiday gifts for you for this December, and the only way I could make that happen with my limited resources was to start a couple months early. So, here's some news, in five parts:
I. For all the Canadian choirs, churches, and public schools out there...
...I know it's been a really frustrating year for the singers who can't get together and sing in person.
I know the most tedious part of putting together those "virtual choir" recordings is making the click-tracks for everyone to sing along with.
I know a lot of choirs have at least a few singers who love to sing, but who are less experienced, and don't have a piano or keyboard at home to learn their choir parts well.
II. If you're a choir director, church music director, or public school teacher ...
...with a group of singers who aren't quite comfortable singing 3 or 4 part harmony yet, there are click-tracks for the melody (with a short switch to two-part harmony in the last chorus, for singers who aren't comfortable singing that high G near the end).
You are free to post the recordings you create from these click-track videos on your own social media accounts if you include a composer/lyricist credit (Suresh Singaratnam, ASCAP), and "originally recorded by Joanna Majoko & Stu Harrison" in your video description. If you would like PDFs of the choir parts to help learn the parts for this recording (or if you would like a MIDI-generated backing instrumental track to add to your singers' recordings), please send a request via email to [email protected]. If you would like your choir to be considered for the video for the Canada-wide recording, please send a request via email to [email protected] for more detailed instructions on filming the videos of your singers, and other information.
III. All of these choir arrangements have...
...also been incorporated into a larger arrangement with orchestral accompaniment (you can hear the click-track that the instrumentalists record to here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRcINmgSNk8 ). If your choir/school/churches can submit all of the individual recordings from each of your singers by November 1, 2020, we will have the opportunity to add your voices to this Canada-wide recording that will be posted online this December.
IV. For all Canadians who aren't part of a choir...
...but who still want to participate in the Canada-wide recording, it's ok, we have you covered too! It would be amazing to fill the screen with as many Canadian faces and voices as possible for the last chorus of the song (ALL Canadians: life-long, new, and those of you who are now living abroad), so, we have some click-track videos for you to record yourself singing the last chorus of the song. Before you check those out, please watch the original music video from 2017, to see if you'd like to be a part of this new recording. :
...the generosity and goodwill of a lot of people. It's important that your work and privacy are protected, and that no one is exploited for their kindness. To make sure we got the details right for this, I've enlisted the assistance of Edwards Creative Law to create a written agreement for everyone involved with the project to sign. To summarize the key points:
This new recording is NOT being made to generate profit.
Your contact information will NOT be sold or shared with anyone.
Because no one is being paid for sending in their individual recordings, this contract prohibits me from profiting from it unless the performers are also paid for their work. All of the details are in the written agreement.
More details about specifics are on the way, but it was important to get those click-track videos to you ASAP, so everyone interested in participating in this Canada-wide recording (or programming it for their own December 2020 virtual concerts) had time to learn and practice their music.
A Canadian Christmas
Snow capped roof tops paint a hushed tableau.
Silhouetted branches frame twilight’s glow.
Gath’ring clouds sculpt rays from a scarlet sun.
December’s dawn greets everyone.
Yuletide colours so ornate, so bright.
Tinselled trees adorned with festive light.
from Haida Gwaii to Labrador
Merry holidays are here once more.
The snowflakes fall, the snowflakes rise,
tracing icy breezes through the skies.
Carolers sing along with town brass bands.
Decked halls and storefronts across the lands.
Yuletide colours so ornate, so bright.
Tinselled trees adorned with festive light.
From Newfoundland west through Whitehorse,
Seasons greetings to us all once more.
Passing through my hometown streets,
I contemplate the bittersweet-
-ness of these few short weeks of cheer,
in a time so often wrought with fear.
Despair returns when once again
our world’s distress consumes my thoughts, but then...
I smile as I begin to see,
these hometown streets reveal to me
the thriving peace that’s here to find
in this nation cast from all humankind.
All Earth’s creeds and cultures, in plain sight,
now adorned with kindled hope so bright.
From mountains’ peaks, to prairies’ plains,
from big city blocks, to small town lanes,
from arctic isles to the Great Lakes’ shores,
Christmas time in Canada is here once more.
Music by Suresh Singaratnam (ASCAP)
English Lyrics by Suresh Singaratnam (ASCAP)
French Lyrics by Anna Settembre