Building Younger Audiences
Jeff Christmas - drummer
Jeff Christmas is a Canadian Composer, Arranger, Conductor, Drummer and Percussionist who studied at York University (Toronto) Western University (London) and Berklee College of Music (Boston). His extensive background and versatility encompasses the classical and contemporary worlds.
Jeff’s compositions and arrangements are in demand internationally and have been performed by symphonies and ensembles worldwide. He has conducted and performed with symphony orchestras across Canada and the United States, appearing with artists such as Denny Doherty, Michael Burgess, The Rankins, Ashley McIsaac, J.P. Cormier, Jackie Richardson, Martin Fry (“ABC”), and recently was conductor for legendary and multi-Grammy Award winning Michael Bolton. In 2004, Jeff was appointed conductor for a series of concerts at Canada’s Casino Rama with Roger Hodgson (formerly of “Supertramp”) and members of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. He has appeared as a guest conductor with Tucson Symphony, Calgary Philharmonic, Fresno Philharmonic, Winnipeg Symphony, Roanoke Symphony, Thunder Bay Symphony, Victoria Symphony, South Dakota Symphony, Vancouver Island Symphony, Lansing Symphony, Springfield Symphony, Stratford Symphony, International Symphony, Lexington Philharmonic, and Jacksonville Symphony. Jeff was a frequent guest conductor with Orchestra London’s Pops, Red Hot Weekends, Education and Family Series, and various community concerts. In 2001, he was director of Western University's Wind Ensemble. Jeff is also a sought-after studio conductor and has various recording projects throughout North America to his credit.
Jeff was the Musical Director at London’s tribute to our Olympic athletes “Inspiring a Dream”. His original compositions With Glowing Hearts and Carry the Light were featured in the show and in the documentary “Vancouver 2010 – Olympic Torch Relay”. He was also the Musical Director/Arranger for the opening of the MTS Centre in Winnipeg where he conducted the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra with guest artists Randy Bachman, Burton Cummings, Tom Cochrane, Doc Walker and Chantal Kreviazuk.
Jeff’s original compositions embrace a wide variety of genres. His music for the Opening Ceremonies of the Canada Games premiered on national television in the summer of 2001. His original composition, River – Journey to Wellspring was written for and inspired by members of the Wellspring Cancer Support Centre in London Ontario and was released on CD in May 2003. Jeff’s Blue Nostalgia, which was commissioned for the 1998 Professional Writing Division Awards Concert at the Berklee Performing Arts Center, received the Millican Endowed Scholarship Award. In the last few decades Jeff has been commissioned to write many other ceremonial works for orchestra, concert band, and choir, including A Grand Journey (Cityhood Centennial), Songs Of Karegnondi, Remember, Commissioned by Primus: Amabile Men’s Choir, and Rainbow Through The Rain, commissioned by the Valley Winds Music Association to commemorate the efforts of the Bow Valley communities, after the 2013 Alberta floods.
Jeff has worked on various feature films and television programs as a composer, orchestrator and musical assistant. He composed the theme and background music for “High Point Casinos” (Global TV) hosted by Kenny Rogers and “Chatroom” (HBO, BET). His orchestrations and arrangements were used in the National Aboriginal achievement Awards (CBC), and he was an orchestrator and musical assistant for several feature films including “My 5 Wives” starring Rodney Dangerfield, “Children of My Heart” and “Cord” starring Daryl Hannah and Jennifer Tilly. Jeff also has many TV jingles to his credit.
Musical theatre has also been an outlet for Jeff’s musical talents. With a strong background in that particular genre, he has been involved in theatre shows from a very early age. His more recent experience includes original music and arrangements for “Jazzabel", a one-woman show written for Denise Pelley, where he served as Musical Director and drummer for several performances, including shows at the National Museum for Women in the Arts in Washington DC and Off Broadway at Urban Stages Theatre in New York City. Jeff’s original music written for the Remembrance Day-themed “Hearts Made Great” was extremely well received. He was the Musical Director for the Grand Theatre’s production of “Streetcar Named Desire” and has performed as a drummer and percussionist in countless productions internationally. Jeff was also the Musical Director and composer for “GrahamFestUSA” in Max Meadows, Virginia.
As the creator of numerous Pops shows, Jeff has conducted and performed concerts for audiences internationally, including “Hollywood Crooners and Broadway Divas”, “Bell Bottoms and Tiffany’s”, “Celtic Spectacular”, “Salsa Pops”, and “Christmas at Christmas”, to name a few. In 2014, he formed The Jeff Christmas Orchestra and debuted his new series “Tapestry Of Sound”, originally produced by his father’s musical theatre company “The Art Christmas Aggregation”.
Jeff was given the position of Composer in Residence with Orchestra London in 2002, and during his tenure he wrote several major compositions including Algoma, and Concerto for English Horn and Orchestra. Along with other compositions and numerous arrangements, Jeff wrote several works for Orchestra London’s Education Series, notably The Symphony Orchestra and Its Instruments and Ode to Ode to Joy.
As busy as Jeff is composing and arranging, he still finds time to juggle a heavy performance schedule. As the drummer and guest conductor for the popular Jeans ‘n’ Classics series, he travels extensively throughout the US and Canada and has appeared with well-known artists such as Amy Sky, Marc Jordan, Lorraine Segato (The Parachute Club), Alan Frew (Glass Tiger), Rik Emmett (Triumph), Brian Vollmer (Helix), Lawrence Gowan, Jim Witter, Thomas Wade, The Spoons, and the late Kenny McLean (Platinum Blonde).
Jeff has spent countless hours in the studio as a session player, producer and conductor in Boston and throughout Ontario. His jazz performances have included collaborations with Sam Noto, Phil Nimmons, Holly Cole, Al Kay, Jeff Stout, George Zonce, John Sherwood, Duncan Hopkins, Mike Murley, Kevin Turcotte, Andrew Downing, Jerry Johnson and Guido Basso.
Jeff has written arrangements and commissioned works for Randy Bachman, Tom Cochrane, Doc Walker, Roger Hodgson, Guido Basso, Erik Schultz, Rik Emmett, Martin Fry, Lawrence Gowan, Intrada Brass, Canadian Staff Band, Amabile Youth Singers, Pierre Schryer, Canadian Celtic Choir, Leslie Nielsen and Jens Lindemann. Some of his most notable compositions include Bluewater Portrait, for solo oboe and orchestra, Canadian Voyage, a five-movement suite for french horn and orchestra, and his most cherished piece The Warburton Arms. In 2009, Canadian brass ensemble, “Brassroots” released their fifth recording “Cocktails: The Music Of Jeff Christmas”, which received critical acclaim for the originality of Jeff’s Cocktail Suite.
Jeff has received many London Music Awards for composing, the 2005 Jack Richardson Award for Classical Soloist/Conducting, and in 2013 was recently inducted into the Western University, Don Wright Faculty of Music “Wall of Fame”.
Jeff resides in London with his wife Wendy and two sons Jayden and Cameron, where he continues to write and teach music, and maintain his online music store and publishing company “Write On Music”.