Festive Countdown Playlist

Explore a special playlist of seasonal tunes selected by Ensemble members, staff and collaborators.

24 December 2021

Over the past few days on our social media channels we’ve been counting down to Christmas with members of Scottish Ensemble, our office team and recent musical guests all revealing their personal favourite festive tracks. Today we’re sorting your Christmas Day listening by revealing the whole playlist, perfect to peel the potatoes to…

Here’s the playlist and below you can find out who selected what, and why.

The Playlist

Winter and Wassail by the Martin Best Ensemble
Chosen by Diane Clark, Scottish Ensemble Bassist

“At the moment I’m listening to the album Thys Yule by the Martin best ensemble. I love this track in particular – Ancient, haunting, peaceful and somehow very grounding.”


Winter Song by Lindisfarne
Chosen by Chris Gemmell, Development Assistant

“Alan Hull is a massively underrated songwriter, and this song is a great example of his music. Perhaps closer to a folk revival protest song than a Christmas classic, the lyrics of Winter Song ask the listener to consider those less fortunate ‘when winter comes howling in’. A world away from Lindisfarne’s more upbeat and occasionally comical songs like Fog On The Tyne, Winter Song offers a chance to reflect and be grateful for what we have over the festive period.”


Es ist ein Ros entsprungen by Michael Praetorius
Chosen by Kristiina Watt, theorbo on our Concerts by Candlelight tour.

“A simple, yet elegant musical telling of the Christmas story. To me it reminds me of trips as a child with family, to cold stone churches on Christmas Eve for the Carol services and the hope and mystery of Christmas felt through communal singing of carols.”


O Sacrum Convivium by Messiaen
Chosen by Alison Lawrance, Scottish Ensemble cellist

“I heard a piece the other day that totally stopped me in my tracks & time stood still for 5 blissful minutes. I’ve been playing it ever since when I need some down time & I instantly feel calm, peaceful & uplifted. It’s an early, & not typical work of Messiaen, ‘O Sacrum Convivium.”


White Christmas by Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra
Chosen by Kate Suthers, violinist

“I wouldn’t do without the original Bing Crosby track, but this cover is awesome. My other half is a trumpet player, so this is a very popular album in our house. Guaranteed to have you dancing around the kitchen making your Christmas morning coffee”


Sekstur from Vendsyssel – The Peat Dance by the Danish String Quartet
Chosen by Kate Suthers, violinist

“I love this whole album from the Danish String Quartet. This track makes me think of fairy lights and having mulled wine with friends – it’s cosy music for cold weather.”


Winter by Rebecca Dale
Chosen by Andrew Berridge, Scottish Ensemble violist

“There’s so many pieces I’d want to put on this, I literally have a ‘winter’ playlist that ends up on a loop as we usually trawl up and down the country with Scottish Ensemble and the beeb looking at rather beautiful snowy scenes, unfortunately this year was a little different.

The piece I’d probably have at the top of the list is this though – ‘Winter’ by Rebecca Dale. I love the string writing and the way it weaves in and out of the voices, it combines a lot of the traditional Christmas music tropes without straying into the cheesy saccharine side of things and I’m always drawn to the keening empty lines that contrast with the warmth of the ensemble writing. There’s bleakness and hope and beauty and it fits lots of the emotions that winter brings to me into one beautiful track.”


Eat, Eat, Eat by Danny Kaye
Chosen by Stuart Burns, Producer

“Danny Kaye’s 1951 Christmas banger Eat, Eat, Eat is a classic in our house. It’s full of nostalgia for those idealised American Christmas movie scenes of houses packed with people, but recognises that the festive period can provide a moment of joy in an otherwise tough world. Whether we’re able to spend Christmas with friends and family is again up in the air, but wherever we are hopefully we can all take Mr Kaye’s simplest of instructions to eat, eat, eat and celebrate another year complete.”


Andante from the Carol Symphony by Victor Hely-Hutchinson
Chosen by William Norris, Interim Chief Executive

“When I was at primary school the TV treat in the run up to each Christmas was ‘The Box of Delights’. We watched it every year for many years without fail. I always loved the eerie yet Christmassy opening music, which perfectly matched the story. More recently I have found it is the Andante from Victor Hely–Hutchinson’s ‘Carol Symphony’ – the section familiar to viewers of The Box of Delights starts at 2.20 in and morphs into a symphonic ‘First Noel’.”

Living in Slow by Feiertag
Chosen by broadcaster, DJ and psychotherapist Nemone Metaxas, our collaborator on Common Sound
“I am finding Feiertag’s Living in Slow completely transportive and meditative this year. The different elements are wonderfully ethereal yet grounding despite the pace and vocals throughout. Although a poignant piece for how we’re having to live, as restrictions increase again, it renders a brief couple of minutes escape at the same time.”
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