My name is Leigh Haggerwood and I've been a musician, writing songs and working as a media composer for many years. In 2010 I realised that we rarely hear new Christmas songs these days. Instead, TV talent shows have taken over and the Christmas charts are no longer exciting and full of the new festive songs I found so magical as a child in the early 80s. Instead, the same old songs play year after year and I wanted to do something about this. So I set about writing a traditional-style song that would have a Christmas carol quality, with all of the festive elements like piano, a choir, strings, chimes, sleigh bells etc. As the Christmas song evolved, it was as if it was meant to be because it happened very quickly. I imagined a Victorian-themed music video with snow falling and excited people going about their business on Christmas eve, and by the time I'd finished the song I knew I had to make a magical video.

My Favourite Time of Year - How it all began...

So I got in touch with all of the major record companies and asked for their support. Sadly, none of them were willing to back the idea as they believed the market for Christmas music in the UK was dead due to TV talent show winners dominating the Christmas charts every year. Undeterred by this, I decided to form The Florin Street Band and raid my life savings to fund the project, albeit on a very tight budget....

Once the song was finished, the first step was to book the musicians that would accompany me on the recording - and collectively be called The Florin Street Band. I asked some of my musician friends, found a session string section and contacted The English Chamber Choir to see if they'd be willing to perform backing vocals. I then got in touch with one of the few studios in London with a live room big enough to accomodate the choir - Trevor Horn's Sarm Studios. I booked a week in July and worked with Trevor's chief engineer Tim Weidner. I produced the song myself and co-mixed it with Tim and, after a mammoth mix session lasting 16 hours, the version that you hear was finished. By coincidence, the live room at Sarm studios was also used to record Band Aid in 1984, and we even borrowed Trevor Horn's personal set of sleigh bells! The next step was to make the Victorian music video I had in mind....  (this all sounds so easy!?!!)

The Music Video...

After an extensive search, I was fortunate enough to discover a talented director called Nick Bartleet who shared my vision of snow-filled streets, fires and lanterns. Despite the tight budget, we worked hard to make the idea become reality and even attracted the skills of top American Cinematographer, John Perez. Blists Hill Victorian Town at Ironbridge in Shropshire was chosen as the location. Blists Hill is an authentic recreation of Victorian life in the UK and it's part of the Ironbridge museums - an educational charity created to preserve the heritage of Ironbridge which is considered the birth place of the industrial revolution. The beautiful streets and houses seemed perfect for the video and the museum was very enthusiastic about the project. Many of the characters from the museum appeared in the video. 

 

 

 

Good fortune smiled on the over-night shoot, rain held-off and spirits were high. Friends and family pitched in as extras, along with local brass band, The Jackfield Band. There were over 100 cast and crew on the set as the snow fell, and people described it as being inside a Christmas card. After 12 hours of filming, the end result is an enchanting period music video which captures my original vision of snow-dusted roof tops and twinkling candle light.
 

Ironbridge Museums

If you live in the UK, or are planning on visiting, I can't recommend Ironbridge museums enough! Set in the beautiful world heritage site of the Ironbridge Gorge, you can explore ten excellent museums including the set of My Favourite Time of Year at Blists Hill Victorian Town.

This is how the Florin Street story began in 2010. Since then it has spread around the world. I've been amazed at the response, and encouraged to create a Florin Street Christmas musical which I hope to bring to the stage and big screen. Winter Wonder is the first song to be released as part of the musical, and it was filmed in Bath at Christmas 2013. Find out more here...

My Favourite Time of Year
Words & music by Leigh Haggerwood

Verse 1

Lanterns lighting up the town,
Peace on earth is all around,
Everything is calm on Christmas Eve.
There's goodwill in the air tonight,
Angels sing by candle light,
Their voices carried on the wind.
When carol singers gather round,
When I hear that festive sound,
I wanna join with them and sing!

Chorus

They sing a merry song and we all sing along,
A festive melody that tells us Christmas time is here.
See the stars tonight; they're shining bright,
'Cause it's Christmas time and it's my favourite time of year.

Verse 2

Deck the halls with boughs of holly,
Give me mistletoe; it's the season to be jolly,
Wrapping presents, writing cards, helping decorate the tree,
But there's one thing that makes it all for me.
When carol singers gather round,
Angel voices fill the town,
It's like the world is joining in!
(Noel, Noel, Noel)

Chorus

They sing a merry song and we all sing along,
A festive melody that tells us Christmas time is here.
See the stars tonight; they're shining bright,
'Cause it's Christmas time and it's my favourite time of year.

Middle 8

Christmas Eve,
Still believe,
So excited,
Can't sleep,
When the morning comes,
Church bells ring,
And he's been!

Chorus

They sing a merry song and we all sing along,
A festive melody that tells us Christmas time is here.
See the stars tonight; they're shining bright,
'Cause it's Christmas time and it's my favourite time of year.
And it's my favourite time of year
(Noel, Noel)


End

 

 

 

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Musicians:



Leigh Haggerwood - Song, vocals, piano
James Ryan - Drums and percussion
Fabian Smith - Acoustic guitar
Harry Palmer - Bass
Vaughan Jones - Violin & solo fiddle
Louise Bevan - Violin
Martin Bloor - Viola
Rachel Threlfall - Cello
Bridie King - Backing vocals
Michelle Lynch - Backing vocals
Nina Clarke - Backing vocals
Kay Jones - Backing Vocals
The English Chamber Choir
Guy Protheroe - Choir Director

The Recording:



Sarm Studios - Recoring location
Tim Weidner - Engineer
Edd Hartwell - Assistant
Tim Debney - Fluid Mastering
Producer - Leigh Haggerwood

CD: Steve Williams
Photos: Harry Palmer and Blists Hill Victorian Town


 

 

© Calmsound 2010-2014

 

 

Credits

The Video:

Director - Nick Bartleet
Producer - Phoebe Lloyd
1st Assistant Director - Jay Arthur
2nd Assistant Director - David Calland
Director of Photography - John Perez
Focus Puller - Ben Chads
Camera Assistant - James Chesterton
Camera DIT - Dave Wright
Gaffer - Nathan Matthews
Stedicam Operator - John Taylor
Crane Operator - Danny Bishop
Crane Technician - Scott Sullivan
Leelium Technician - Richard Buckley
Leelium Technician - James Jeffs
Snow Business Tech - Steve Shelley
Snow Business Tech - Steven McLaughlin
Snow Business Tech - Oliver Guy-Watkins
Effects Tech - Kevin McDonagh
Makeup Artist - Laura Gingell
Wardrobe - Felicity Gee & Jemima Roberts
Playback - Mike Staiger
Runner - Alistair Hewitt
Runner - Ore Okonedo
Runner - Sophie Lee

 

 

 

Location: Blists Hill Victorian Town
Brass Band: The Jackfield Brass Band
Model: Romany
Boys: Vincent Jordon & Josh Harrison
Harry Horse, Lance Rose, Sam the dog

 

Cast:



Bridie King

Kay Jones
Nina Clarke
Michelle Lynch
Lisa Houlder
Vaughan Jones
James Ryan
Fabian Smith
Harry Palmer
Beverley Palmer
Rose Knightingale
Robin Winter
Kelly Haggerwood
Verity Stokes
Colette Karakashian

​Pam Cooper

Su Harvey
Jane Little
George Little
Gill Jordan
Keith Minshull
Tony Stevens
Guy Rowland
Nicola Smart
Adam Giblin
Catherine Deadman
Daniel Garrad
Phil Smith
Ann Rowley
Mark Greenall

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Chatting on set

Leigh chats to the mother of the snowball boys