The calendar has already opened on a ballet, so today’s window opens on an opera popular at Christmas.
Hansel and Gretel was composed in 1891/1892 by nineteenth-century composer Engelbert Humperdinck The libretto was written by his sister, based on the Grimm Brothers’ dark fairy tale of brother and sister lost in the forest and finding the witch’s gingerbread house. The first video is the evening prayer the children sing as they fall asleep in the forest.
The second piece has its own magic. On 19 June 1929, 250 children from 52 local schools, the Manchester Children’s Choir, travelled by tram to the Free Trade Hall in Manchester to record Nymphs and Shepherds by Henry Purcell with the Hallé Orchestra, under the direction of Sir Hamilton Harty. It was issued on Columbia 9909, a 12in 78rpm disc that cost four shillings and sixpence and sold 1million copies. The B side was the Dance Duet from Hansel and Gretel.
You can read here about the choir and the wonderful musical play Victoria Wood wrote about the poignant reunion of the choir.