Throwback Thursday: “O Little Town of Bethlehem”

I had to get in one more Throwback Thursday post for the Christmas season. (There’s probably a lot of them I could have made, but I’ll just content myself with these two that I’ve had, and direct any others I might have made to something else.) Here’s a beautiful rendition of an old favorite, with a bit of a personal connection on my part…

“O Little Town of Bethlehem” by Millennial Choirs & Orchestras!

This is a pretty recent version, but I’ll still consider it a “throwback.” Millennial Choirs & Orchestras (MCO), formerly known as Mormon Choral Organization, is what has now grown to various choral ensembles across 4 states (Arizona, California, Texas, and now Utah), for adults, teens, and children, along with a full-size orchestra in each location. All serve as volunteers, and the program in general has grown simply through word of mouth, since MCO’s inception in 2007. (According to their website, there’s over 2,500 people currently participating.) I had the privilege of participating in MCO in Arizona for a year before I left on my mission, in 2011-12. In February 2012, I was lucky enough to be able to be part of the recording of this very song (we had performed it in concert a few months earlier in December). Featuring two fantastic instrumentalists and members of the orchestra, Jennifer Rhodes and Camille Phillips, on violin and viola, this is an absolutely stunning arrangement by Brett Stewart (he arranges a great deal of MCO’s work, and also conducts the California ensembles, being an MCO co-founder) that really makes this Christmas classic come alive. The strings are simply gorgeous (Jennifer and Camille’s recurring obbligato will bring you pretty darn close to tears if it doesn’t make you cry), the choir sings beautifully (and I don’t just say this because I’m part of it), and…it’s just incredible. It clocks in at more than 8 minutes, but by the time the track’s over, you’ll be wanting more. It’s a wonderful way to remember the true reason for the season.

And if you DO want more…be sure to check out MCO’s website and their full Christmas album, “O Holy Night.” They also have recorded three other excellent albums, including their most recent one, “To Be American,” a show-stopping patriotic celebration if there ever was one. (I’ll probably end up sharing it this next Independence Day time, but their version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” is one of the most jaw-dropping arrangements I’ve ever heard of our National Anthem. To say you’ll be blown away is a major understatement…You have to hear it to believe it.)

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