For the 15th consecutive year, we welcome composer Abbie Betinis back to Classical MPR for the world premiere of her annual Christmas Carol.
Betinis continues a family tradition begun in 1922 by her great-grandfather, Bates Burt, then continued by Betinis's great-uncle, Alfred Burt. Some of Alfred Burt's carols, such as "Caroling, Caroling" and "The Star Carol" became part of the standard Christmas repertoire.
Abbie picked up the tradition by writing a new carol every year, and for the past 15 years, she has premiered them on Classical Minnesota Public Radio.
This year's carol, "Romance in Waltz Time," was inspired by the simple act of Betinis's mother cleaning the basement at Betinis's grandparents' house. In doing so, she found a box she hadn't seen before. In the box was an original waltz by Alfred Burt. The music didn't have any lyrics, so Betinis recruited poet Michael Dennis Browne to put words to the music already composed. "The compositional form is a partner song, so one voice, then another, then they interlock," Betinis explains. "It's how I feel about carrying this tradition on … Like I'm spinning their energy into my music somehow."
Thanks to the MPR carolers for bringing this music to life: Carrie Henneman Shaw, soprano; Laura Betinis Healy, mezzo soprano; Abbie Burt Betinis, alto; and Anthony Healy on piano.
This year's feature includes a bonus segment a new arrangement of last year's carol, "Peace with Me Now," included in the audio above. You can find last year's carol archived here.