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Hopeful Sounds to Ring in 2021

A view of Boston at sunset
Matthew Landers via
A view of Boston at sunset

This New Year's Eve, ring in 2021 with the music that makes the CRB staff feel hopeful and light.

When faced with struggle, what music makes us feel like it's all going to be okay? Rather than reflecting on the year behind us, we'd rather look forward with hope and optimism.

So, our staff chimed in and came up with this list of pieces to help us all ring in the New Year with an eye towards the future. We're playing all of them starting at 8pm on December 31, and you can hear them here too.

Cheers to a good year, from everyone at CRB.

Laura Carlo - Steven Bryant: Ecstatic Fanfare
In less than 3 1/2 minutes the Steve Bryant "Ecstatic Fanfare" first steadies me, then uplifts me by assuring that everything will be ok. And finally - and here's the best part - in the last minute the trumpets swell and actually motivate me to make sure the future will be good.

Cathy Fuller - Johannes Brahms: Symphony No. 2 in D, Op. 73
Once Brahms had pried himself away from the intimidating shadow of Beethoven and written his first symphony, his spirit was set free. His second symphony came soon after - a universe of warmth and light.  It begins gently, with fresh air and sunshine. And it ends in a great flash of pure ecstatic sound! For me, the symphony is hope made visceral. And I love it!

Chris Voss - Johann Sebastian Bach: Keyboard Partita No. 1 in B-flat, BWV 825
Over the years I have found myself turning to this piece when I need a bit of grounding. There is a warmth to it, twinned with a quiet hopeful energy. And Igor Levit's sensitivity to Bach's music can't be beat.;

Alan McLellan - Johann Sebastian Bach: English Suite No. 1 in A, BWV 806
Bach always makes me feel more hopeful because of how grounded it is. When I’m listening, the thing that’s worrying me “right now,” whether it’s a snowstorm, a health crisis or a leaky faucet, fades away. It stops me in my tracks. Bach’s spiritual life, transformed into music, gives me the courage to carry on.

Tyler Alderson - Johannes Brahms: Variations on a Theme by Joseph Haydn, Op. 56a
Brahms already had a beautiful melody to work with in his Variations on a Theme by Haydn. But after he’s done playing around with its musical possibilities, he pulls out all the stops for a triumphant recapitulation and an ending that seems to melt away before roaring back for one final flourish.

Emily Marvosh - Antonin Dvorak: String Quartet in F, Op. 96 No. 12, "American"
Dvorak's "American" String Quartet reminds me of the hopefulness of immigrants, the love of the unknown, and how respectful curiosity in an artist can blend the differences in music and cultures to create something new and robust.

Maya Shwayder - Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 6 in F, Op. 68, "Pastoral"
The end of Beethoven's 6th Symphony makes me hopeful because of its peaceful, sweet resolution after the storm in the previous movement.

Colin Brumley - Frederic Chopin: Nocturne No. 2 in E-flat, Op. 9 No. 2
This piece is that first warm breeze of spring – you know the one. It’s a simple, honest melody that reminds me that the little things in life aren’t so little after all.

Anthony Rudel - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat, K. 364
This piece has it all; a cheerful opening, a tender, somewhat sad middle, and an outpouring of joy in the final movement, and all of that is conveyed through a dialog between the solo violin and viola. Their conversation, especially in the final movement expresses a musical sense of getting along, of idea sharing, and of harmony.

Kendall Todd - Ottorino Respighi: Three Botticelli Pictures, I: La Primavera
Is there any other piece of music that has as much joyful, propulsive energy as this one? “La Primavera” feels like a promise that happier times are ahead.

Rani Schloss - Richard Wagner: Forest Murmurs from Siegfried
Sometimes we feel like we're a little lost in the woods, and then the sun starts to shine through and we realize we're up at the summit, looking down at all we've accomplished, and looking ahead knowing that what comes next is something we've dealt with at least once before. That's how Forest Murmurs feels to me.