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The Sounds of the Season

By Thomas Warner, on December 29, 2016
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Christmas at Longwood: gorgeous floral displays? Check. Beautiful, elegant decorations throughout the Conservatory? Check. Hundreds of thousands of lights sparkling in our outdoor gardens? Check.

Music of the season? Check, check, and double check.

Anyone who has visited Longwood Gardens or who has learned a little bit of our history will know that music and the performing arts have always been an important part of our Gardens. Our founder, Pierre S. du Pont, was fond of many kinds of music and realized how the senses could be heightened by beautiful music as well as beautiful gardens—so why not combine the two?

Organ concert during A Longwood Christmas, 1979. Photo by Richard Keen.Organ concert during A Longwood Christmas, 1979. Photo by Richard Keen.

A Longwood Christmas has always been a time when these two sensibilities complement each other, beginning with performances and sing-alongs using the magnificent Aeolian organ in the Ballroom. Beginning in the mid- to late-1950s, Sunday afternoon Christmas recitals were often performed during December, with organist Clarence Snyder leading the way. After his retirement in the late 1970s, multiple organists took over with recitals. Today, we celebrate our musical traditions with daily organ sing-alongs, a tradition enjoyed by generations of families year after year.

The Heritage Chorale performing in Longwood’s Ballroom, 2007. Photo by Larry Albee.The Heritage Chorale performing in Longwood’s Ballroom, 2007. Photo by Larry Albee. 

And the choirs! Since the 1980s, choirs from all over the region have graced Longwood's magnificent Ballroom with Christmas programs—from West Grove, PA to Newark, DE to Haddonfield, NJ—creating more musical memories for our guests young and old. It's expected that an estimated 70,000 guests will enjoy the choirs and organ sing-a-longs this year!

Longwood Gardens is a place like no other any time of the year, but especially during the holiday season. With carolers strolling in the outdoor gardens, and music filling the Conservatory, the sounds of the season continue to hold a very special place in the tradition of A Longwood Christmas.

The Olde Towne Carolers entertaining guests near the Peirce-du Pont House. Photo by Cathy Matos.The Olde Towne Carolers entertaining guests near the Peirce-du Pont House. Photo by Cathy Matos.

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