NYJO Christmas Picks 2022

November 30, 2022

We asked NYJO staff and musicians for their favourite Christmas tunes


As has become tradition in the NYJO family, we created a playlist with our favourite Christmas music:



This year, we want to add yours too! Send us your Christmas tune suggestions to [email protected] and we will add them to the list, so everyone can enjoy them!


Here are this year’s NYJO picks


‘Lully, Lulla (Coventry Carol)’ – Juice Vocal Ensemble, Anna Snow

Juice Vocal Ensemble perform Anna Snow’s arrangement of The Coventry Carol. Like much of the rest of this 2018 album, Snow Queens, it offers a refreshing new take on traditional Christmas music – and I love both.

Susie York Skinner, NYJO Chief Executive


‘Magnificat’ – JS Bach

I love this piece – I sang it in school and I couldn’t believe the trumpet playing on the recording (this is my favourite version). When we did the concert this guy rolled up with a newspaper under his arm and got out a little tarnished trumpet from an old leather case and played this – I thought it was just magic on the recording and didn’t believe it could be played live. It was so inspiring and made me want to be a trumpet player! It’s Baroque jazz – beautiful melodies, rhythmic energy and all sorts of instrumental virtuosity from tender accompaniments to high-register fireworks.

Mark Armstrong, NYJO Head of Music


‘In the Bleak Midwinter’ – Voces8, Ola Gjeilo

If a tune is going to make it into my ‘favourites’ it has to hold sentimental value to me. At school I was in an 8-person choir, and I’ll always treasure the bond we formed over our collective passion for, and (maybe slightly weird) fascination with, music. One Christmas, we stumbled across Ola Gjelio’s arrangement of ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’ and fell in love with it – we all got together and learnt it for no reason other than for the joy of just singing together. There’s something truly magical about choral music at Christmas and its ability to bring people together.

George Gatehouse, NYJO Music Coordinator


‘This Christmas’ – Donny Hathaway

I just LOVE Donny Hathaway, he has one of the most beautiful voices ever & bonus points for not being one of those jangley Christmas songs that gets played a million times throughout December!

Vikki Moorhouse, NYJO Head of Learning


‘Sparkle & Shine’ – Nativity!

Having spent some time teaching drama to primary school age children, Nativity! is a film that particularly speaks to me… The relationship between the teachers and the students in it is really special, and anyone who has worked in a primary school around Christmas can sympathise with the particular stresses that come with trying to stage a Christmas production! Ultimately though the film, and this song in particular, is just completely joyful and a really special celebration of what can be achieved when we embrace the arts in our schools.

Beth Ismay, NYJO Learning Programmes Manager


‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ – Vince Guaraldi Trio

My choice for the NYJO Xmas playlist is A Charlie Brown Christmas, by the Vince Guaraldi Trio. For me, the music manages to tread the fine line between sweet and saccharine, and captures both the gentle magic and the melancholy of Christmas, for those of us who have complex relationships with this time of year. Finally, I love how it has enough jazz integrity and interest to satisfy jazz afficionados, while being sufficiently tuneful to pop on for Christmas drinkies with the neighbours.

Debbie Forwood, NYJO Head of Development


‘Christmas in L.A.’ – Vulfpeck

This song just immediately makes me feel so happy, ready to boogie along to it, and ready for Christmas fun! The bass groove and the funk vibe of it is just so fun and satisfying to listen to for me. It’s a colourful, exciting, energetic and a little wacky for a Christmas chart, which is what I love about it! I can’t help but feel happier whenever this tune comes on, so it’s got to be one of my favourites!

Ginny Small, NYJO Development Assistant


‘Natal dos Simples’ – Zeca Afonso

Considered one of the greatest Portuguese songwriters of all time, José (Zeca) Afonso was a revolutionary poet and a hugely important cultural figure in the overthrowing of the fascist regime. It was his voice, broadcasted from the radio building captured by the rebellious armed forces, which signalled the beginning of the Carnation Revolution in the early hours of the 25th of April 1974. Growing up with an activist grandmother, Zeca Afonso is the lead singer of my childhood’s soundtrack; this song, roughly translated as ‘Christmas of the Simple’ always brings Avó Isa to the Christmas table, which she unfortunately no longer heads every year.

Mariana Curado, NYJO Communications Manager


‘All I Want for Christmas is you’ – Mariah Carey

Because it’s iconic!

Izzy, NYJO Under-18s Ensemble (Saxophone)


‘Frosty the Snowman’ – Jacob Wutzke

I saw this version on Tiktok where the drummer plays some really different instrumentation on this, using tapping, and I just fell in love with the song!

Megan, NYJO Under-18s Ensemble & Under-18s Band (Drums)


‘Sleigh Ride’ – Benny Benack

Benny Benack has a cool Christmas version of this which I love

Natan, NYJO Under-18s Ensemble (Drums)



Lucy-Anne (EP quote)

“Since joining NYJO, I’m so much more confident as a performer. Especially in terms of being able to entertain and keep the crowd engaged with you. It’s really nice to be able to feel that difference.” 

Lucy-Anne, NYJO Emerging Professional (Vocals)

Georgia (EP quote)

“It’s hard to just learn this music in the practice room but being immersed in the music at NYJO is a great environment to really push my playing. ” 

Georgia Ayew, NYJO Emerging Professional (Drums)

Sam Eastmond (MD quote)

"Giving them space to create whatever they wanted, without setting parameters of idiom or style helped them to conceptualise how they could bring these new concepts into their work without scaring them off, or mystifying the process."

Sam Eastmond, NYJO Educator

Jazzwise quote

"NYJO has never been conformist, never hewing to one particular line, never known for fawning replications and very deliberately these days a vehicle for new possibilities."

Jazzwise Magazine

Lydia (EP quote)

"The past year has been an absolutely incredible experience, pushing me way out of my comfort zone into playing with some of the greatest young jazz players of my generation and getting to call them my colleagues and friends has been beyond inspiring, and also an obscene amount of fun!"

Lydia Cochrane, NYJO Emerging Professional (Saxophone)

Anna (Learning national quote)

"[The NYJO residential in Cumbria] helped me to make friends with other young musicians. I enjoy playing a lot more and I’m quite proud of what I’ve accomplished. I feel more confident now. I have learnt different ways of coming up with solid melodies and also a little bit on harmonies. I think it’s been one of the best experiences I’ve ever had."

Anna, NYJO Learning Widening Access participant

Briony (Learning U18s quote)

"I’ve felt very fortunate to be surrounded by amazing musicians, and I think that the environment at NYJO – which has fostered creativity and improvisation – has allowed my confidence and musical ideas to grow."

Briony, NYJO Under 18s

Oscar (Learning U18s quote)

"I think I’ve progressed a lot in my piano-playing. NYJO has helped me to flourish and really enjoy it. I’ve really enjoyed being engrossed in a high level of playing and learning things in a hands-on-way. I also like the diversity of perspectives and abilities of all the players and teachers which enables me to try things I might not normally."

Oscar, NYJO Under 18s

Jennie (Learning U18s quote)

"NYJO has got me listening to more jazz and learning more changes. It has also helped with working as a band. I’ve really enjoyed the free jazz, learning by ear, the people, and the atmosphere."

Jennie, NYJO Under 18s

Leah-Anais (Learning U18s quote)

"I love the people at NYJO. Everyone here is so encouraging and lovely and it makes the experience worthwhile. Though I have fun I’m still learning on the way which makes me feel productive too."

Leah-Anais, NYJO Under 18s

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