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Playlist: 2021 Favorites from the World Ensemble Ambassadors
Last year, the Ambassadors put together a playlist of songs that got us through the first global quarantine period in 2020. This year, we are back with another playlist—this time with our favorite songs from 2021!
Listen to the entire playlist on Spotify:
Pedro Ramos (U.S.)
My favorite song that I listened to this year has to be “Nunca Vas a Comprender” by Rita Payés. Born in Barcelona (Catalan) to musical parents, Payés has been surrounded by music her entire life. This opening track to her new album, COMO LA PIEL, hints at the effortless mastery that can be seen for the rest of the album. The very difficult trombone solo before the last verse sounds easy, but that’s only due to Payés’ deep understanding of phrasing. Additionally, Payés’ mother, Elisabeth Roma, can be heard playing Spanish guitar throughout the whole song. My favorite section is when Roma plays an excerpt of the famous Mexican song, “Sabor a Mí,” during her solo. When I hear this song, I wonder how music education is taught in Spain; I would like to learn how Rita Payés, an artist of my age, was brought up to create such incredible music.
Han Diep (Australia)
“Red Lights” by Stray Kids and “Tenerife Sea” by Ed Sheeran are two songs that I’ve been playing excessively lately, although each song’s mood is in total contrast with the other’s. “Tenerife Sea” radiates the feeling of being happily in love, while “Red Lights” conveys a sense of constraint.
“Tenerife Sea” lifts up my mood after a tiring day; “Red Lights” relates to me, showing me that there are others who also feel suffocated from time to time. Everything about it is finely crafted, from the music to the lyrics, and even though “Red Lights” is in Korean, you can feel its mood through the music. These two songs are amazing pieces of art. They capture my attention right away, proving their beauty every time I listen.
Mary Nakacwa (Uganda)
“Kachumbali” by Quex is my best song of 2021. The song is about an arrogant, drunk, and useless man who has not cared for his children. In the song, he decides to change, and gets married to a woman who changes his life by building him up. This teaches me to seek useful people who will help me build my life, and to ask for help when I need it.
Momoka Tsuchiya (Japan)
My favorite song so far this year is the “Theme from Schindler’s List” by John Williams. This song is truly beautiful, and the delicate melody is so heartbreaking that it can bring tears to my eyes unexpectedly. In particular, I love the version played by Adrian Anantawan* and listen to it every day. His tone captures the piece’s powerful beauty and sadness. And his performance has a charm that no one else can match.
I hope that one day I will play this song in concert.
*Since Anantawan’s rendition of “Schindler’s List” is not on Spotify, we have included a performance by Itzhak Perlman and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Melis Erselçan (Turkey)
W.A.S.P. is one of my favorite bands. I love a lot of their songs, but I listened to “Into the Fire” the most this year. The piece has a perfect guitar solo at the second minute.
“Ağlamayı Sevmem” by Yavuz Çetin also means a lot to me. It is Turkish and means “I don’t like to cry.” Yavuz Çetin had a very tragic background, and his songs are so deep and meaningful.
Lastly, I’m a huge fan of Pink Floyd. Their songs are always high quality and sound like they come from a different world. “Comfortably Numb” makes me feel serene—and also features a wonderful guitar solo!
Hannah Christensen (U.S.)
“River Flows in You” by Yiruma has become one of my go-to songs this year. When my day becomes stressful or rough, I know I can sit down and listen to it as my worries go away.
One of the first things I tell new people is how much I love country music. The song “Key to the City” by Adam Doleac has become a fast fave; I just dance around when it comes on. It makes me feel light and carefree, and I can’t think of a better way to start my morning each day.
Stephen Ongoma (Kenya)
I love country music, and feel the song “Love Me” by Collin Raye describes my personality well. It examines the whole puzzle of life and death.
Helen Faucher (Canada)
My first submission to this playlist is the Adagio from the ballet Spartacus, composed by Aram Khachaturian. I discovered this piece when looking through my orchestra’s repertoire options, and instantly fell in love with it. I love the theme, the building anticipation before the climax, and how beautifully the music fits the choreography. It gives me chills every time!
The second piece is the first movement of a marimba concerto called “Avec Force,” composed by Emmanuel Séjourné. I had the pleasure of hearing and discovering the whole concerto during a live concert, but the first movement always calls my name with its passionate, heart-tugging melodies and pleasing rhythms.
Axelle Miel (Philippines)
“It Would Be You” by Ben Rector was one of the first songs I discovered this year, and it became an instant favorite. I love its myriad sounds and the ardent, all-or-nothing emotions conveyed in the lyrics. Ben Rector had me dancing around my room during my first cold and isolating winter in the U.S.
My second addition is “The Best” by Tina Turner. This song plays a pretty important role in the sitcom Schitt’s Creek, one of my favorite shows ever. I won’t give away any spoilers, but it’s just so sweet.
Matthew Jones (U.K.)
“RUNAWAY – w/ Orchestra” by Half•alive has very cool rhythmic and harmonic devices and a message that feels straight out of an animated film.
For extremely easy listening, I recommend “change ur mind” by Sarcastic Sounds, Claire Rosinkranz, and Clinton Kane.