Written in 1941 by American classical music composer and teacher Katherine K. Davis, Carol of the Drum is based on a traditional Czech carol that became a popular Christmas song in the 1950s. Davis had interest in writing material for amateur choirs, but Carol of the Drum had broader appeal too and it was the Austrian Trapp Family Singers who first brought the song to prominence when they recorded it for an album in 1951. It was later recorded with a slightly altered arrangement by Jack Halloran and his Jack Halloran Singers for their 1957 album Christmas Is A-Comin’.
However, the song had not yet been popularized on its own and, recognizing the opportunity to gain a broader audience for it, producer Harry Simeone hired many of the same singers that had sung in Halloran’s version and made a nearly identical recording with his newly created Harry Simeone Chorale. Released as a single for the first time in 1958, Simeone’s version had only one major difference from Halloran’s. Simeone chose to re-title his, The Little Drummer Boy and, ever since, the song has been recorded by various artists under the revised title.
Between 2019 and 2020, producer Gerald Hartke commissioned Film Composer and Orchestrator Philip Klein to arrange and record a new and sweeping orchestration of the Christmas classic for the upcoming film Nicholas of Myra: The Story of Saint Nicholas. A re-imagining of the song, Klein’s epic cinematic interpretation takes the musical composition to soaring new heights. In paying homage to the earliest renditions, producer Hartke decided to return the piece to its original title, Carol Of The Drum, and hired classical crossover artist Jay Dreff to perform the lyrics in five languages. The English version is now available for streaming and download on all major online platforms with Spanish, German, Italian and French versions coming in 2022.
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