Connecticut Yuletide Carolers
The Connecticut Yuletide Carolers are committed to preserving the tradition of Christmas and holiday music. We endeavor to expose new audiences, particularly young people, to the carols and hymns of yesteryear. Formed in 2006 by Michael and Lori Cartwright with six singers and twelve performances, the group has now expanded to twenty-five performers making over sixty appearances during the busy holiday season.
Our repertoire consists of nearly fifty songs. Most are familiar classic holiday tunes, such as “Jolly Old Saint Nicholas,” “Carol of the Bells,” “O Tannenbaum,” and “God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen.” Also included are some older, less familiar pieces such as “We’ll Dress The House,” “Fum Fum Fum,” and “Masters in This Hall.” We also perform a several contemporary and songs (“The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”, “Frosty the Snowman”, "Let It Snow") as well as several Hanukkah songs, so that all audience members can enjoy our music. The Carolers perform in traditional Victorian costumes to complete the atmosphere, and are ready to entertain audiences either indoors or outside.
The addition of short “narratives” which educate the audience about the origins and traditions surrounding the tradition carols can turn our performance into an informative concert that is a perfect event for venues such as a library, museum, or school.
We perform as an a capella quartet – 2 women and 2 men – which gives us the flexibility to schedule simultaneous performances during the brief, but busy, holiday season. While some of the singers also have full-time jobs during the week, several are retirees, giving us the ability to perform during week days. The ranks of the Connecticut Yuletide Carolers include singers who come from many different musical backgrounds. Some have choral experience; many have performed in musical theatre or opera productions; all of the members have had musical training either privately or as part of a performing group. New members are found during an annual open audition, but the majority of singers are recommended by other members of the group.
The Carolers have appeared at a wide variety of venues – libraries, senior centers and residences, town holiday festivals, health care facilities, shopping malls, wedding receptions, corporate events, social clubs, to name a few. The group appeared on the WFSB “Better Connecticut” program, WTNH's "Connecticut Style", and Crossroads Magazine. And we even appeared in a commercial for Big Y Supermarkets! You can see videos of these at our YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/ctyuletide). This broad cross-section of venue styles means that the Carolers are ready to adapt to any situation. Often, the group is singing at an event such as an outdoor festival where the audience will only listen to them briefly, for a song or two, before moving on; therefore, the Carolers must engage them quickly. Some settings are in the style of a concert, with the audience seated for the entire performance; this is often when we will use the “narratives” to create a fuller experience. The audience ages can vary greatly at many events, and our favorite audience interactions involve getting a crowd to sing along, rattle jingle bells, or hold up numbered cards to keep everyone together as the singers and audience make their way through a rousing rendition of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”