Al Conti is a GRAMMY® nominated musician people worldwide recognize as a composer with a natural ability for producing some of the most vibrant, story based albums in the new age and world music genres. Al Conti’s ability to intermingle his story based tales of intrigue into every one of his award winning albums, in part, originates from his life experiences and extensive international travels.
Al Conti is a nominee for the 54th GRAMMY® Awards in the Best New Age Album category, selected for his 2010 album entitled Northern Seas. Along with Al Conti’s GRAMMY® nomination in the new age genre, Northern Seas was also selected in Amazon’s Top 10 list for Best New Age Albums of 2010. Earlier albums Scheherazade, Poeta & Shadows have made other “best album of the year” and “top 10 album charts” at other organizations.
Northern Seas is the fourth album from Al Conti, and a fine release that highlights his abilities as composer, arranger, and multi-instrumentalist. The storyline on Northern Seas chronicles the ancestral homeland and Nordic heritage of Scandinavia with wondrous glory. The rich instrumental landscape captures your imagination, and valiantly stands the high ground on this resolute masterpiece aptly named Northern Seas.
Northern Seas features 10 songs in a fascinating blend of new age and world fusion with a Celtic inscription on several songs. There is a unique atmosphere by using ancient instruments in parity with traditional instruments. Al and contributing artists create a unique feel blending kantele, harp, hurdy gurdy, pump organ, accordion, and tribal drums with piano, violin, cello, acoustic and electric guitar.
The folklore of Norse traditions brought to the surface by Al Conti is deep, rich, and intriguing while portraying a tale of Norsemen during a time of Viking sovereignty. Every song on Northern Seas is crisp, clear and refreshing, as if detailing the pristine landscape and panoramic mountain vistas by the deeply spacious tonal qualities.
New Age Music World host John P. Olsen had the opportunity to conduct a December 2011 interview with Al Conti, a 54th GRAMMY® nominee in the Best New Age Album category. Today we are pleased to present their up-to-date interview to Al Conti’s fans and to our site visitors – several days prior to the New Year 2012.
GRAMMY® Nominated Al Conti Interview;
John Olsen: Thank you for consenting to my interview, Al. First I would like to congratulate you on your GRAMMY® nomination for Northern Seas! This is great news. It always pleases me when I hear an outstanding artist and their work are given the recognition they deserve. Northern Seas has many fine qualities, many of which were pointed out by a number of positive reviews at your site, AlConti.net. I was glad to be among those to contribute an album review, and I hope to have conveyed the award-winning potential, and some of the finer aspects of your work in the album review I wrote earlier.
John: Aside from the fact Northern Seas is in the category for Best New Age Album, I feel Northern Seas is to some extent the most progressive of the five GRAMMY® nominated albums by a variety of instrumental qualities. Do you agree, and if so, do you feel having a nominated album that varies instrumentally from the rest will work to your advantage?
Al Conti: Hello John, it is my pleasure to be here with you! Many reviewers have commented before on how my work is rather different than much of the New Age music available these days. Some have called my work ‘cutting edge.’ Personally, I feel that New Age music is very rich in its diversity, and my work is a part of that spectrum. Whether my music’s edge works to my advantage or not, I am not sure.
During the nomination process, I have indeed heard from many peers, mostly from other genres, how they found my music to be so different. I guess it has, in the end, worked to my advantage. The ironic thing is I never strive to compose music that is different, per se, but just to be true to myself as an artist and simply create what comes from within me. The rest is all excruciating work!
John: On Northern Seas you pair old-world instruments of kantele, harp, hurdy gurdy, pump organ, accordion and tribal drums with modern instrumentation of piano, violin, cello, acoustic and electric guitar. I am familiar with the majority of songs on your earlier albums Scheherazade, Poeta & Shadows, but I would like to know, if this blend of ancient and modern instruments is consistent throughout every one of your four releases?
Al Conti: Since my album Scheherazade, I’ve been drawn consistently to rediscovering ancient instrumentation, and this also blends very well with the mystical landscapes I like to explore. People have responded very well to the use of these instruments. There is also something beautiful to me in bringing instruments and sounds into a modern content. It feels like I am in some way honoring the past by bringing these instruments into a more contemporary setting. I am never quite sure what will come out of me musically and I am always challenging myself as an artist with each release.
John: Would you tell us about the outstanding artists who performed instrumentals with you on your GRAMMY® nominated release?
Al Conti: I have been blessed to have worked with some amazing people, and continue to do so. For Northern Seas I wanted to work mostly with local talent, and except for Francesca Genco (vocals), all are Vermont artists. Among the contributing talent in Northern Seas there is the immensely-talented violinist Hannah Beth Crary, who was truly magnificent to work with and my trusted guitarist and engineer André Maquera.
John: You also have a team of music professionals you depend on for technical details and final production. Would you like to mention the people who helped you finalize Northern Seas?
Al Conti: While I do a big part of an album’s mixing myself as I compose, I depend heavily on André Maquera, of West Street Digital, in Vermont, for the final mixing and mastering on my projects. I have worked with him since my first release, Shadows, and feel he understands my approach so well at this point as to know how to work with whatever I bring his way. Mastering is also a very arduous process and my hearing can only handle so much. Aside from the actual music engineering and recording, I work with a fantastic team of people that help oversee the other aspects of my career, without whom I could not do what I do.
John: What do you feel are the most positive attributes of Northern Seas?
Al Conti: I think Northern Seas went in a different direction than my previous album Scheherazade. I feel it showcases my versatility as a musician and composer. My audience can hear a more classically-oriented side of me in my album Poeta, a more exotic and sensual one with Scheherazade and a more aggressive and brooding, yet also fun and hopeful side with Northern Seas.
John: In addition to your GRAMMY® nomination, Northern Seas made the Amazon Top 10 list for Best New Age Albums of 2010, and many of your earlier releases were also awarded “best of the year”, “top 10 charts”, and other “best album lists and top 100 charts.” What do you believe has been the most important influence that has led to your overall successes as an award-winning composer, arranger, producer and multi-instrumentalist?
Al Conti: I compose what comes through me, and this changes depending on the project I am working on at any given time. I tend to go to a certain emotional place when I compose and the right material flows through me. When a project is finished, it is as if someone has turned the creative faucet off, and nothing else comes through, so I know I am done. I believe that the key to anyone’s success, especially in this business, is made up of various elements such as what I mentioned above, coupled with hard work, perseverance, gut feeling, luck, timing and fate.
I also believe it is important to follow one’s own path and not be overly influenced by what other artists do. While there may be a music trend we all follow and music that influences our style, it is good to do what really comes from the heart and not try to imitate someone else. I simply do what I do, surround myself with a magnificent team and we all pull forward in our own way, but in the same direction.
John: Every one of your new age albums is based a theme or legend and portrays a story. What is the story based representation or theme behind Northern Seas, and how did you arrive at the concept for Northern Seas?
Al Conti: Northern Seas is based on Norse mythology. While my previous album, Scheherazade, was based on the teller of the fantastic Arabian tales, Northern Seas was a little more complicated to nail down as a concept. I did a tremendous amount of research when the idea for this project first came to me. I could have based the album on a particular Norse myth, but I felt that there were many important ones that would have been left out. The album as a concept takes many of the Norse myths and weaves them into one cohesive narrative.
John: How do you transpose an inspirational or story-based theme into a musical arrangement?
Al Conti: This is also something that is very hard to describe, because I do not have a specific formula that I follow. Each project is based on a particular myth or tale. This already sets the parameters I will work within because each part of the world and its respective culture has a definite music style, which I then follow.
Scheherazade was Middle Eastern; Northern Seas is Nordic, Celtic and Germanic. But I also do not want to compose an album that is fully regimented by a culture’s musical style and mood, thus I tend to modernize the music to make it more appealing to a Western audience. As such, I end up with the music I compose, which is peppered with world cultural influences, yet remains primarily New Age. I do believe my past as an actor also thoroughly influences my approach to my music compositions because I innately tend to approach my music composition as a film.
John: At your music blog – alconti.blogspot.com – you detail how producing music has changed for you since the earliest years when you first began producing music. What are some of the changes you have made over the years, and the challenges you face while producing music today?
Al Conti: Many of the changes are dictated to me by the music industry that I am a part of. I feel one of the biggest mistakes artists can make is to not accept the fact that the music business is, first and foremost, a business. Since I came from an acting background, well versed in the complex workings of that business, I simply translated acting to music and brought along with me the same work ethics I had from that part of my life. I also feel each project I undertake lays the groundwork for the direction of my career. Because I am also a perfectionist, nothing I compose is ever good enough for me and I always strive to better myself.
John: Has having your own Shadowside Music label been a major influence with the manner you produce and market your music?
Al Conti: Absolutely. I can decide what I want to create without having to answer to someone else’s idea of what I should be creating. I also have full control over every aspect of my career and creative output. Because I happen to also be the producer and arranger of my own albums, I can truly follow my gut instinct and move forward from there. Of course, I knew that the path I chose was plagued with risks and I did not know if these would pay off until they did.
Much like an actor producing and directing his or her own film, producing one’s own album can either make or break you. For me, luckily, it was the former, not the latter. It was a great risk, but I took it head on. I am at a point now in my career where I can honestly say that the path I chose has indeed paid off and I can continue forward knowing I am doing what I am supposed to be doing and that it is working out well. As people now ask me for advice, I find myself saying, “Hey, my path and how I walked it to this point has worked for me, but it may not work for you at all.” Thinking of many successful artists, I venture to say you’ll find each got there in very different ways.
John: Early in life you were determined at a very young age to become an actor. You appeared in commercials and were an actor in the acclaimed As The World Turns American television series. By all accounts Al, you had achieved the acting career you envisioned for yourself. What was the turning point where you decided to change direction to pursue a music career, and how did this change to a new career transpire over the years?
Al Conti: I do not think any artist will ever say, “Yes, I achieved what I artistically set out to achieve,” because we’re always looking forward to the next creative project. As an actor, I do not think I ever fulfilled that which I strived to achieve since I was a child, and I believe music has allowed me to express artistically in ways acting did not. I also came to a place in my life where I did not have the need to play someone else to express myself. With music, regardless of the project, I am always expressing my truest self through my work, yet I can be an actor at the same time because my projects are pretty much like a film that is being played out musically.
John: I read you were born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Your grandfather was a concert pianist, and your mother was a classical ballerina. What are your thoughts – do you believe talents in the arts, in fields like theatre or music, are heredity, or, do you feel non-genetic factors play more of a role with inclinations toward an individual’s profession?
Al Conti: I cannot honestly say. I know I was born an artist, which as a child created nothing but problems for me in school. But because my parents and grandparents (and even beyond that to my extended family) were and are artists in their own way, I was lucky in that they completely encouraged me. I do, however, believe that we are born with the talents we will hopefully hone throughout our lives, whether you are an artist, teacher, lawyer, social worker or whatever. I tried being other things than an artist and failed miserably.
It was clear to me that I could only work in the arts. This is why I cringe when parents force their kids to play the piano or do anything else artistic if the child really has little inclination in that direction. It would have been the same for me if, say, my parents had forced me to be right handed while my inclination was to be left handed. As an actor, I saw some sad things happening with parents who would bring their children into auditions. Not pleasant!
John: While living in Argentina, you grew up listening to ethnic music from many parts of the world, plus you have extensively traveled the globe. Would it be fair to say your music is a vehicle that describes many of your life experiences and international travels?
Al Conti: I think as artists we take everything we have gathered throughout our lifetime and put it into our work, because what we do comes from the deepest fibers of our beings. Because I was raised in different cultures, this broadened my horizons culturally. I innately know how one culture can function differently from another. When I compose music, based on a certain culture, the way that culture expresses itself deeply affects how I compose.
John: You have led a diverse life compared to many people. You now reside in the state of Vermont in the United States. What is it about the state of Vermont you adore?
Al Conti: I have always felt at home in Vermont. It is a state with deep French Canadian roots, which in many ways resembles the culture in which I was raised. Those cultural roots can still be felt in Vermont. While I have lived in a few different states in the U.S., Vermont is definitely the only one I have ever felt like calling my home.
John: I read at – alconti.net – you are currently working on your fifth album. I would love to release some Al Conti news for your fans and our readers today if possible. Can you release any information about your newest, fifth album project?
Al Conti: I usually tend to be very private about what project I am currently working on. I blame my past as a superstitious actor for this! I never want to jinx the project. There are also the legal ramifications of my talking about it at such an early stage. What I can say is that the album’s progress is half way, and I am excited that there are some very well-known guest New Age artists that will be participating in the project.
I can also say that the album will be more on the lines of my previous work Scheherazade, and I think people will be very happy about that, even though it is far from that album’s Middle Eastern theme. As an artist, I never want to repeat myself musically, so I strive to keep moving forward. While I know that many people loved Scheherazade, and it would be easy for me to fall back into another Middle Eastern theme, I refuse to do so. My current project is based on yet another beautiful legend and I will let my audience discover it as the time approaches. It is tentatively scheduled for release in September 2012.
John: During your work with humanitarian organizations, you teamed up with television celebrities Kevin Bacon, Jessica Alba, and Shelly Morrison for a charitable benefit. Can you tell us about your contributions with humanitarian organizations over the years?
Al Conti: As an artist with a certain level of success, I always feel I need to give back. Because I have been touched by many situations in my life, I feel like those are the ways I can give back. Unfortunately, we live in a world that has many, many causes we could rally for, but eventually, one can only do so much.
I have chosen carefully the charities I align myself with. AIDS, Leukemia and Alzheimer’s, as well as breast cancer, have all affected people I care about. In my own way, I try to raise awareness about these illnesses. I find that when people like what you do they are more apt to listen and take notice. When recently asked by a dear friend and fellow New Age artist about how I felt regarding my GRAMMY® nomination, I replied that I feel like this now allows my heart to give more. I truly mean that.
John: I read you are also involved in a wellness organization called The Spa Buzz, an organization that helps spread the message of wellness through activities like their awareness-raising bus tour. Would you like to tell us about your contributions with The Spa Buzz organization?
Al Conti: Yes, I was involved with this event as they toured the country promoting a message of health and wellbeing. This is something my team initially brought to my attention and I agreed to take part in it by lending my music to the project and attending events on the East Coast, because I truly believe people can be healthier, pay more attention to and be in tune with their bodies. The Spa Buzz did a great job for health awareness, and promoted the way music can contribute to wellness along the way.
John: You have enjoyed a remarkable career as a musician, Al. What do you find most rewarding as a professional musician?
Al Conti: I think, as I mentioned before, the more success I find as a musician, the more I am able to give back to others. Once I heard a saying that went: “When you get to the top floor, make sure to send the elevator back down for somebody else.” I never forgot that. While I do not think I am anywhere close to the top floor, I do believe that with a certain amount of success, there comes a responsibility to give back, and the universe sends our way those who can benefit from what we have to give, and vice-versa.
John: Thank you again for taking time out for our interview. I wish the best for you in the 54th Annual GRAMMY® Awards scheduled for Sunday Feb. 12, 2012. In closing for now, is there anything you want to bring up, or express to your fans and the people who have supported you over the years?
Al Conti: There are always a few things, for sure. One is something I always speak of when able to, and that is the sad state of music piracy. Since I have been involved in the music industry, I have become increasingly aware of the ravages that the illegal download of music is doing to artists worldwide. Many people do not even realize that they are actually stealing music. While some do indeed believe that we, as artists, should work for free, most simply do not realize the impact they have on the economy with even just one song illegally downloaded.
Independent musicians now form a large part of the music industry and they do not make millions, far from it. Many can barely survive on the income they receive from their music work. I would hope the right amount of respect be given to their efforts by actually purchasing their work rather than downloading it illegally.
A fellow artist, Loreena McKennitt, is a big spokesperson for this, and she has actually had to lay off people from her company because the illegal downloads of her work have made it impossible for her to maintain their employment. This is extremely sad for me to see. No one would ever accept to work for free, why should artists?
Thanks so much for this time, John, and for the work you do for New Age music!
John: I get to know many artists personally, and I feel the same way too about the music piracy issue of illegal downloads. I am pleased to be in a position to help get the message across. I look forward to writing more about you soon Al.
Visit the alconti.net homepage and his music store where you can sample or purchase all four albums, and keep up with the latest news. You are invited to visit Al’s official blog at alconti.blogspot.com and Facebook page. Read my Al Conti page.
Photos are courtesy alconti.net and with additional photographer credits of – Michael Mattern, Patrick Cote, John Young, Gerrit Ohm, and Kay Dillenberger.
Christmas music has always been a popular topic here at New Age Music World. There were so many new age Christmas albums from 2011 that it has been a challenge to tell you about every single one. Some of the newest Christmas albums can be seen in an earlier article I wrote entitled; Best Christmas Albums for Holiday Music.
The 2002 music duo Randy and Pamela Copus have one of the most popular new age Christmas albums around too. Christmas Dreams by 2002 is a wonderful Christmas album they released in 2008. Randy and Pamela’s Carol of the Bells animated video has received over 868,300 views, so this gives one an idea just how popular 2002’s music has become!
Believe by 2002 is their soon to be released project, plus 2012 marks the year Randy and Pamela Copus of 2002 celebrate their twentieth year anniversary as a band! Below is a Christmas video of Carol of the Bells by 2002 from their Christmas Dreams album. On the YouTube page for 2002 you can view a song video from their new Believe album Dreams of Peace. Visit 2002music.com and 2002′s Amazon page.
Merry Christmas from New Age Music World!
The new Winter Poem album by Secret Garden was released with much fanfare in November of 2011. It was during my interview with Fionnuala Sherry about her solo release Songs From Before, when Secret Garden fans heard news about Rolf and Fionnuala’s new Winter Poem release.
Secret Garden’s new Winter Poem album has all original arrangements from Rolf Lovland, along with the award-winning Expo Suite that he composed for the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai China. If you haven’t purchased their newest album yet and you want to sample, you can listen to Secret Garden’s newest release at Valley Entertainment or Amazon using the links below.
On Winter Poem, Rolf and Fionnuala remain close to their signature sound that has made them an international success, but they have also taken on a fresh approach on their newest composition which guarantees their fans something special. Once again the outstanding Irish violinist Fionnuala Sherry is happily the centerpiece artist on Winter Poem, plus Secret Garden has enlisted several exceptional Norwegian and Irish musicians for their vibrant new release.
One guest is dynamic vocalist Moya Brennan from Celtic group Clannad, who sings on The Dream, which is one of many new songs you can listen to right now. Another guest vocalist is Fionnuala Gill who sings on song Mary’s Lament. Tracey Campbell and Espen Grjotheim perform on song Powered By Nature.
Secret Garden’s Winter Poem was scored, arranged and produced by Rolf Lovland, and in addition to fine instrumentals by Secret Garden, the special guest vocalists, their new album features the Czech National Symphony Orchestra.
A Secret Garden concert tour in Norway recently gave fans a chance to hear songs from Winter Poem, and songs covering 16 years as an acclaimed music duo with millions of fans worldwide. Secret Garden fans and new visitors have a chance to win an autographed 8 CD collection of Secret Garden albums including the new Winter Poem album. Simply visit Secret Garden’s site, click on the top banner and enter your email address for current news and information on Secret Garden.
Sample and purchase Winter Poem at secretgarden.no and Songs From Before at fionnualasherry.com. Sample or purchase Winter Poem at the Hearts of Space Records Label at valley-entertainment.com. Find more information and read an interview with Fionnuala Sherry on my Secret Garden page. Photos are courtesy secretgarden.no.
GRAMMY® nominated composer David Arkenstone is a celebrated new age artist who has produced an extensive collection of great instrumental albums over the course of his distinguished career. David Arkenstone’s popularity as a favorite artist for many persons including myself is clear when you consider he has sold well over a million albums throughout his extensive career as a popular favorite.
The admiration for David Arkenstone and his reputation as a top new age artist is apparent by other benchmarks too, having reached the Top 10 Billboard New Age charts twenty times. He is a gifted musician accustomed to playing a variety of instruments, some of which include electronic keyboards, piano, cello, flute, harp, mandolin and a number of ethnic guitars. David is also a talented percussionist, sings vocals on some of his albums, and regularly performs live music during tours as a performing new age concert artist.
David Arkenstone is a three times GRAMMY® nominated musician, having earned nominations for his three albums In the Wake of the Wind, Citizen of the World, & Atlantis. In addition he has composed numerous recordings for film and television, some of which are shown on the History Channel, Discovery Channel, NBC Sports and many other televised programs.
Echoes of Creation is a new soundtrack he composed for Jan Nickman’s nature inspired film that was aired on PBS stations nationwide. David has also composed a number of top rated computer gaming scores like World of Warcraft, Blade Runner, Lands of Lore, Earth and Beyond & Emperor.
David Arkenstone and his popular album collection are a broad array of ambient, Celtic, contemporary instrumental, world, electronic, and new age fusion. Diversity is a unique characteristic of David Arkenstone’s ingenious skills as a songwriter and his extensive music collection. He also performs live concerts with Seth Osburn and John Wakefield in his world music inspired band Mandala.
New Age Music World host John P. Olsen recently had the opportunity to provide a December 2011 interview for the internationally famous David Arkenstone. Today we are pleased to present their up-to-date interview conversation to David’s fans and to our site visitors weeks prior to the new year 2012.
David Arkenstone Interview;
John Olsen: Thank you for giving everyone a moment of your time David. Like your many fans, I too have been an admirer of your music for many years, so our interview together is especially rewarding to me personally.
I noticed at your website you appear to have a close connection with your fans by easy access and information for them at your website news page, Twitter and Facebook social networking pages.
Over the years, the internet and technology has influenced everyone to some extent, and new technology directly applies to the technique in which you produce music.
John: Would you like to begin our interview by telling us about your life as a musician in the early years, preceding the time when technology changed the way you produce music?
David Arkenstone: I had several different configurations of my rock band, Arkenstone. I played guitar and keyboards. I’ve always loved synths and used them in my music, as well as all kinds of different sounds. So I was doing that. Once synthesizers and computers started communicating, I threw myself into that world and never looked back. I was able to hear things I could only previously imagine.
John: Since computer technology or electronic music has influenced the process in which you compose, what has proven to be the most beneficial aspect of your electronic enhanced orchestrations?
David Arkenstone: That would be all the things I can hear at the same time. Like a fully orchestrated piece with percussion, strings, brass, woodwinds. Or if I’m doing a more non-orchestral piece, I can hear the guitars with the drums, keyboards, generally all the sounds I use. This is so beneficial to being able to shape the piece as I go. There is an endless amount of tweaking until I’m satisfied. This can sometimes take a long time!
John: Many of your releases have bold majestic themes and popular music influences. When composing, do you intentionally set out to merge many influences into your music compositions, and how do you achieve a proper balance of electronic and instrumental orchestrations?
David Arkenstone: I usually try to start with a concept that resonates with me, and then decide which aspects of that concept I would like to illustrate with music. After the pieces begin coming out, I figure out my ‘palette.’ From that I can find a balance of sounds and decide which elements can be computer generated and which should be live musicians. This period includes a lot of exciting exploration.
John: Along with your Echoes of Creation Soundtrack & Ambient World releases, don’t you have a varied collection of Celtic songs?
David Arkenstone: Celtic Journeys is a compilation of my Celtic inspired recordings on the Green Hill label.
John: In your diverse music collection, Visions of Christmas is another relatively new release. With the holiday season drawing nearer every day, perhaps you could tell us about the songs on Visions of Christmas, and how your holiday album was produced?
David Arkenstone: I love the holidays and have been doing holiday concerts for a long time. This album came about because I was playing a lot of arrangements in our Winter Solstice concerts that I’d never recorded.
I really wanted to do another Christmas album and my producing partner, Victoria Paige Meyerink, suggested we combine the concert tunes with some of my favorites for Visions of Christmas. We’ve also filmed several of the concerts and we’re working on a DVD of the Winter Solstice Tour.
John: Again, I am very familiar with your entire discography David. Likewise, I am confident the majority of people reading this interview are too. For those who may be less familiar with your variety of great releases, what 4 albums would you recommend to them as a starting point to begin sampling your discography?
David Arkenstone: Visionary, Atlantis, Myths and Legends & Ambient World.
John: Yes, I certainly agree your 2 disc collection of songs on Ambient World is an excellent choice. This is one of your new albums I would recommend to everyone too. Earlier, Victoria Paige Meyerink informed me that Ambient World was listed in the 25 Essential Echoes CD’s for 2011. In your diverse music collection, I find many of your albums “boldly adventurous” if I can phrase it this way. Many releases including Eternal Champion & Quest Of The Dream Warrior are best described as having epic or majestic themes. Do you begin a project with a predetermined theme or does a project’s theme define itself later on while you are composing?
David Arkenstone: I usually start with a thread of an idea, though also it can materialize after I’ve composed several pieces. That can generate ideas for me, or a more specific direction.
John: You have composed numerous music recordings for film and television like the History Channel, Discovery Channel, NBC Sports and others. The Echoes of Creation soundtrack you produced with Emmy award winning director Jan Nickman is another example of your outstanding film scores.
In addition your numerous computer gaming scores like World of Warcraft, Blade Runner, Lands of Lore, Earth and Beyond, & Emperor. What are some of the challenges and dissimilarities involved with soundtrack, film and gaming scores verses composing music for an album?
David Arkenstone: A music album is completely free. I think of the road I want to go on, what instruments I want to use, and all of the final outcome. With a project involving another person’s vision, I have to determine the palette, style, and mood that will best fit the project. Then I have to please my collaborators and make sure all the elements work together.
John: Would you tell us about your world music group Mandala?
David Arkenstone: I recently started this group with a couple of my friends, Seth Osburn & John Wakefield, to perform more world music inspired pieces that are more improvisational in nature. Some are very danceable, and some are very moody, but all of them have a spiritual aspect. Mandala is evolving and we recently filmed a concert. We will be releasing footage once it’s fully edited.
John: In addition to your numerous album releases, you have been a concert performer for many years, including the renaissance festivals earlier this year. Would you like to provide some details about the musicians who perform with you, and what one can expect when attending a David Arkenstone concert in terms of atmosphere, interaction, and songs you play?
David Arkenstone: It’s fun to step back in time. Basically, it’s me and the band without synths and sometimes little amplification. We’ve been invited to several Renn fairs and enjoy being in costume and playing some of my Celtic inspired works.
A lot of the World of Warcraft fans attend and I really love performing live to such enthusiastic crowds. It’s a relaxed atmosphere and I have the opportunity to meet with people who’ve been following my career – one person saved tickets from one of my first concerts, brought them to the fair and asked me to autograph them! People bring all sorts of memorabilia.
John: I heard the news you have plans for a new David Arkenstone album with a release date sometime in 2012. Do you have an album title for your new project, and can you tell us about the music you have in mind for your new release for 2012?
David Arkenstone: Well, I’m not ready to say too much about it yet. There are vocals, lots of drums and orchestra, as well as all the other instruments I play. I’m very excited about it. The album is collaboration with Charlee Brooks, a wonderful singer and writer, and it’s one of the most rewarding experiences of my career. We have written it almost as a soundtrack.
John: You have a large international fan base, and you have enjoyed a successful music career practically your entire life. What do you find the most rewarding experience as a professional musician?
David Arkenstone: That’s simple, the most rewarding aspect is that people enjoy my music and because of that, I get to do what I love every day. I’ve been lucky to make music that resonates with so many people, and their support and kind words make every day a musical joy.
John: Your new website looks fantastic! It’s easy to navigate too. I know you have a new album project you are working on and a busy schedule so I want to thank you again for letting me host your most current interview David. It has been a privilege to provide today’s news coverage about you!
I will publish more articles about you in time but do you have any departing words before we close for now?
David Arkenstone: Just that I appreciate your support of music and your efforts to connect musicians with the listeners. I hope everyone will enjoy my new 3-D website and follow me on Facebook and Twitter.
Visit the new davidarkenstone.com website and purchase his music at David’s online store or find at David’s profile page at domomusicgroup.com. Discover more fine artists at domomusicgroup.com homepage and read my David Arkenstone page. Interview photos are courtesy David Arkenstone.
Al Conti is a nominee for the 54th GRAMMY® Awards in the Best New Age Album category. Al Conti is one of five new age artist nominees, one of which will be selected for top album honors next year in 2012 when televised live on CBS in Los Angeles on Sunday, February 12, 2012 at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT.
Northern Seas is Al Conti’s GRAMMY® nominated album that highlights his abilities as a top composer, arranger, and multi-instrumentalist who has produced a total of four exceptional story based releases so far. Plus, I read at the alconti.net website there is new Al Conti album currently in the works, so I will bring you more about Al Conti’s new album soon.
The storyline on Northern Seas chronicles the ancestral homeland and Nordic heritage of Scandinavia in a manner you will find glorious. The rich instrumental landscape captures the imagination by 10 songs in a fascinating mixture of new age and world fusion music, with a Celtic tonal expression on several songs.
I have an interview with Al Conti in the near future. In my interview, I plan to cover a variety of interesting topics about Al Conti, including his GRAMMY® nominated new age album Northern Seas, along with his story based album compositions that have earned him the reputation of top new age artist. Pending my Al Conti interview publication, below is his Northern Seas high definition promotional song video for Veil of Mist.
David and Steve Gordon are two prominent names people across the globe identify as one of the most prolific artists in today’s international music scene. Plus, the quality arrangements this team of brothers create on a regular basis have made them highly successful, and rightfully so.
Since the founding of their esteemed Sequoia Records label 28 years ago, the award winning Gordon Brothers have rightly earned the honorable reputation of being legendary music producers.
The Gordon Brother’s early formation of new age nature sounds was the inception of their adventurous journey into the more diverse styles of musical arrangements they produce today, which is an comprehensive array of new age, world, electronic, ambient, relaxation, plus an extensive collection of groove and chill out music.
Enthusiasts of groove and chill out music know that David and Steve Gordon are consistently “in the groove themselves” by their great selection of multicultural world fusion albums, which expertly blend ethnic drums and exotic song melodies into world class instrumental music.
David and Steve Gordon are indeed influential when composing their own music creations, plus their compilation albums that highlight top artists from around the globe are another significant component during their role as award winning DJs. Selecting international musical talents from around the world, the top quality artists on Sequoia Record’s playlist lineup can likewise be found on many of their relaxation, groove and chill out releases.
Groove Tribe is the Gordon Brother’s new groove album featuring a vibrant blend of electronic music with ethnic percussion rhythms that creates a distance miles apart from many other forms of multicultural world music. This arrangement contains the calming metrical rhythms and vibrant electronic harmonies that keep the Gordon Brothers in the forefront of new age and world music styles. It also highlights their ability to fashion a wide selection of popular music in a variety of sub-genres.
Groove Tribe has 11 songs of electronic groove and chill out music with world drums and musical instruments. Every song carries the relaxing yet vibrant trademark sound of quality in which David and Steve Gordon are famous. This album is an exotic assortment of smooth song melodies in step with ethnic percussion rhythms so it’s no wonder Groove Tribe has been a bestselling choice for many people.
For those who may be less familiar with their music, or would like a starting point to sample their albums, the Gordon Brothers make finding the right selection easy for you by cataloging their most popular, bestselling releases in a variety of styles and formats.
Visit the sequoiarecords.com homepage and David & Steve Gordon’s music page, and sign up for their Sequoia newsletter. Here is where you can listen to or buy Groove Tribe and find their bestsellers. Photos are courtesy sequoiarecords.com.
Billboard magazine listed Trans-Siberian Orchestra as one of the most acclaimed concert touring groups of the past decade. If you have had the chance to see them perform live you will know why this is so true, just like the millions of fans worldwide who have attended one of their extraordinary theatrical shows.
It’s a well known fact that TSO’s live concert events are notorious for stunning audiences with their exceptional rock opera style interpretation of orchestral music!
Trans-Siberian Orchestra is a spectacular American music group that has performed on stage before an estimated 8 million concertgoers, and has sold around 8.5 million albums since their inception in 1993.
The theatrical group’s most current 2 disc album entitled Night Castle showcases TSO’s fundamental elements of progressive, symphonic rock music that has made them a titanic success. Knowing how extraordinary this album is, I would be willing to guess that songs from Night Castle are included on their playlist of concert songs.
Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Winter Concert Tour for 2011 is in full force with many concerts dates scheduled between now and their final Winter Concert Tour performance in Phoenix, Arizona on December 30, 2011 at the Jobing.com Arena.
TSO’s Beethoven’s Last Night 2012 Concert Tour begins a new season for Trans-Siberian Orchestra and fans starting with their very first concert appearance on Saturday March 3, 2012 in Beaumont, Texas at the Ford Arena. The final Beethoven’s Last Night 2012 Tour season ends on Sunday May 12, 2012 in Battle Creek, Michigan at the Kellogg Arena, but there are many opportunities for you to see TSO perform live!
Please note the tour dates shown above are beginning and ending dates only, and like any concert tour, all dates and venues listed here and at their site are subject to change. The must see YouTube HD video below is a live promotional video performance for TSO’s Winter Concert Tour.
You can visit the trans-siberian.com homepage for news and gift ideas. Visit the TSO concert tour page for full concert schedule for 2011 & 2012. Photos in this article are courtesy trans-siberian.com.
The 54th GRAMMY® Award Nominations for the New Age Music genre category were recently announced several days ago during a live presentation and concert at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live in Los Angeles. The televised CBS broadcast which aired on November 30, 2011 began the official countdown to announce the 54th GRAMMY® Awards for 2012.
The 54th Annual GRAMMY® Awards will be televised live on CBS from Staples Center, in Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012. The CBS Television Network will air the live awards program at 8 p.m. ET/PT. I know two of the five artists nominated this year, and have written album reviews for Al Conti’s Northern Seas album and Michael Brant DeMaria’s Gaia album, if you would like to read my album reviews of two nominated releases for 2012. I published an interview with Michael Brant DeMaria in January of 2011, and there is an earlier Michael Brant DeMaria interview in 2009, for more about Michael.
The GRAMMY® Nominees for Best New Age Album are shown below alphabetically. I have sampled all five albums and can say they are all great releases. You can sample or purchase each GRAMMY® Nominated album by clicking on the direct links to each CD or MP3 album at Amazon.com.
54th GRAMMY® Nominees for Best New Age Album;
1. Northern Seas by Al Conti - Shadowside Music. Sample Northern Seas at Amazon.
2. Gaia by Michael Brant DeMaria – Ontos Music. Sample Gaia at Amazon.
3. Wind, Rock, Sea & Flame by Peter Kater – Point Of Light Records. Sample Wind, Rock, Sea & Flame at Amazon.
4. What’s It All About by Pat Metheny – Nonesuch. Sample What’s It All About at Amazon.
5. Instrumental Oasis – Vol. 6 by Alejandro Zamora – Z-Records. Sample Instrumental Oasis – Vol. 6 at Amazon.
Photos are courtesy of their respective artists & grammy.com.
Jon Anderson has a new Christmas song called Give Hope available as an MP3 download, just in time to begin the holiday season in style. Speaking of style, if you look at the photo you will see a trendy songbird on the album cover wearing a red scarf. It is a photo illustration, but this bird is one of the most fashionable Robins ever!
Give Hope is a new revision of Jon Anderson’s 3 Ships (22nd Anniversary Edition). I couldn’t find very much information on his new song release but there are plenty of locations where you can sample Jon Anderson’s Give Hope. It features Jon naturally, along with a children’s choir which really adds to the festive atmosphere.
This song is a special Christmas wish from Jon Anderson!
Album cover photo illustration courtesy jonanderson.com.
A Midnight Clear is a brand new Christmas release from Bill Leslie. Recognized for his multiple talents as a musician and journalist, Bill Leslie is no stranger to winning awards as a top ranked new age artist and television newscaster for the WRAL – TV network in Raleigh North Carolina.
Bill Leslie’s A Midnight Clear is an instrumental album with 16 songs of traditional and original music. Finding inspiration from author Jan Karon, and her best-selling Mitford series, A Midnight Clear was the first entry in a 2011 album recommendation I wrote entitled The Best Christmas Albums for Holiday Music.
Simple Beauty earned Bill Leslie a top award for Best Instrumental Album – Acoustic at Zone Music Reporter in 2010. The video from the album below of song Smitten is the audio visual product of a family vacation in the Pacific Northwest. Along with his original compositions, Bill composes traditional and Celtic fusion music as soloist and concert appearances with his band Lorica.
The 10 original songs on Simple Beauty are modeled after 4 traditional Irish melodies in a wonderful blend of instrumental harmonies. On Simple Beauty, Bill Leslie performs acoustic guitar, piano, bass, whistles and keyboards.
Instrumental artists on this album are Bill Covington (Grand Piano), Brent Cotton (Acoustic Guitar), Jennifer Curtis (Violin), Nancy Green (cello), Will Leslie (percussion), and Linda Metz (flute).
While Bill Leslie is a prominent new age artist, a 5 time Emmy award winning journalist and recipient of multiple Journalist of the Year awards in North Carolina, Bill Leslie gives the impression he is prepared to go the normal distance to find perfect balance in his talents as a top artist and TV journalist, for which he is equally admired. Below is a review quote from Simple Beauty and the song video Smitten.
Bill Leslie’s appropriately titled Simple Beauty is a work of harmony whose scenic wonder and peaceful surroundings emerge by the great instrumental theme, making this natural and wholesome new release a sensational find for everyone.
Multi-platinum pianist Jim Brickman is one of today’s most beloved artists whose selection of romantic piano and Christmas music spans across a wide variety of popular music genres. With 6 of his albums acquiring Gold and Platinum status, it’s easy to see why Jim Brickman is a prominent celebrity in the popular and new age instrumental music genres. Likewise, he is renowned as the greatest pianist in the Adult Contemporary genre category, having charted more than any other male performer.
Jim Brickman is a highly recognized entertainer and recording artist who has thrilled millions of people for years with his award winning collection of popular piano music which can range from solo piano, popular, mainstream music, adult contemporary, and a wonderful selection of Christmas albums, many of which are available in CD and DVD formats.
With 6 Gold and Platinum albums, 2 GRAMMY® nominations, and 30 chart topping adult radio hits, Jim Brickman is accustomed to prestigious awards and recognition. Along with 2 SESAC Songwriter of the Year awards, a Canadian Country Music Award, and a Gospel Music Association Dove Award, he is tied for the most #1 albums in Billboard’s New Age charts. Presently listed in the Top 10 of Billboard’s New Age Charts are three of Jim’s albums; All is Calm, Romanza, & Love.
Jim Brickman is likewise cherished for his countless album collaborations with other popular celebrity artists, some of which include Lady Antebellum, Kenny Loggins, Martine McBride, Olivia Newton-John, Donny Osmond, Carly Simon and Michael W. Smith. During the course of his lengthy career Jim Brickman has become a household name, having crossed over into mainstream piano music that is adored by millions of people worldwide.
The Christmas holidays are a special time of year that symbolizes another period in time when people often associate Jim Brickman, and his special variety of piano instrumental Christmas music. Currently Jim is beginning his 2011 Holiday Concert Tour in the continental U.S. Also recognized for his humanitarian efforts, Jim is involved with many charitable foundations dedicated to improving the lives of children and their families, including Autism Speaks, UNICEF and Camp Heartland.
New Age Music World host John P. Olsen had an opportunity to interview Jim Brickman at the very start of his opening Christmas Concert Tour in 2011. Today we are pleased to present their conversation to Jim Brickman’s international fan base and to our global site visitors.
Interview with Jim Brickman;
John Olsen: Thank you so much for accepting my interview invitation Jim. I realize this is an especially busy time for you. It is truly a privilege to be the host for your most current interview. Currently you are about to begin your 2011 “A Christmas Celebration” Concert Tour, which has numerous concert venues in major cities throughout the continental U.S.
John: When traveling across the country on tour with full entourage I imagine the excitement of every performance takes a lot out of you, and the entire team. How do you and everyone on the team re-energize and prepare for the next concert?
Jim Brickman: Each city, theatre and audience is different. Knowing this helps keep the performances fresh and exciting. It really is like celebrating Christmas every day.
John: During your Christmas Concert Tour in 2011 you have special guest vocalist Anne Cochran and Ben Utecht, with violinist Tracy Silverman. I have heard these artists on your YouTube videos and must say you have a great team Jim! Would you like to tell everyone about the exceptional artists who will be performing with you during this year’s A Christmas Celebration Concert Tour?
Jim Brickman: I’ve been performing with Anne Cochran and Tracy Silverman for many, many years. Anne and I met in high school. I look forward to performing with her, not only because we are close friends, but because she has a beautiful voice and a great personality.
Tracy is a brilliant musician who adds a dimension to my concert that you don’t normally expect to hear. Ben Utecht is new to the tour, but may be a familiar name to NFL football fans. He was a member of the Super Bowl Championship Indianapolis Colts. He has a powerful voice that brings new meaning to familiar songs and old favorites. Ben has a large presence on stage, and he wears his Super Bowl ring!
John: How many seasons have you held Christmas concerts to date, and how do you determine which of the many exceptional artists to choose from will be performing with you? If it is not a secret, can you tell us some of the Christmas songs concert attendees will hear during your 2011 season?
Jim Brickman: This is the 16th year of the holiday tour. I will be playing holiday favorites and a few songs from my latest CD Romanza. Plus the hits, because everyone wants to hear the hit songs. I hope for a few hours the audience can wrap themselves up in the holiday spirit through my music.
John: Over the years you have been Grammy nominated, won countless music awards, in addition to 6 of your releases attaining Gold and Platinum status. It is obvious people adore your music Jim. Do you feel there a specific element about your music that you feel has helped you achieve worldwide popularity?
Jim Brickman: As I write music, I think about where people will be listening to it, and how it will make them feel. Because the majority of my songs have no words, people can listen, apply it into their own lives, and take away what they need to hear.
John: I am confident most people reading this interview are familiar with your music. For those people who may be less familiar with your many albums, what albums would you suggest for a starting point for them to begin sampling your music?
Jim Brickman: If You Believe is my signature song and I think it also best represents my “sound.” It symbolizes my dream of composing and performing, and the belief in myself to bring it to fruition. It’s on the CD Picture This.
John: From your great selection of Christmas music CDs and DVDs, what would you recommend they sample or purchase?
Jim Brickman: That’s like asking which is your favorite child. I have a new CD called All Is Calm that’s available at Target.
John: You have been a successful musician nearly your entire life. Knowing there are other artists reading our interview today, can you give any advice or offer a helpful strategy to those artists who are just beginning their music career?
Jim Brickman: Listen to many different artists that you enjoy and admire. Hear what it is in their music and lyrics that speak to you. Then when you sit down to write, adopt what you like from other elements and make it your own.
So many pianists tell me “Everyone says I sound like Jim Brickman. How do I start my career?” Well, there’s already a Jim Brickman, so I tell them the best way is to create a new, unique sound. Find places to be heard. And don’t be afraid of rejection. Find places to play and show off your talent. Start small and get your style and personality known so that you can grow your career.
John: In regards to your talents as a pianist, would you say you have natural born talents as a pianist, or has it merely taken practice and dedication to reach the level of expertise you have achieved?
Jim Brickman: I started playing piano when I was 4. I begged my parents to buy me a piano. So, that part was natural. I had a lot of piano teachers growing up, and they all wanted me to play in what I call “their style.”
It wasn’t until I studied at the Cleveland Institute of Music, that I found a teacher who helped me develop my own style. It evolved out of my classical training and my love of pop music. That’s what you hear today.
John: You have collaborated on numerous projects with famous artists like yourself over the years. Would you like to tell us about your experience while working with esteemed artists like yourself?
Jim Brickman: I love writing with different people because each one draws something new out of me. As I write I hear a specific sound singing the vocals. I love using new voices that may not be familiar to listeners because they come to me with an eagerness and fresh energy. Of course, many have gone on to become household names like Martina McBride and Lady Antebellum.
John: When visiting your jimbrickman.com website I read you are offering a “Jim Brickman Escape Cruise” in 2013, where you and anyone interested can sail the Eastern Caribbean together. What are some of the cruise destinations you have traveled during your earlier vacation cruises, and what are some of the onboard cruise activities?
Jim Brickman: We have sailed all over the Caribbean, and the Mexican Riviera. Two years ago we took an amazing trip to Alaska, and this year we went to Hawaii. I do two concerts onboard, usually in a cabaret style theatre that lends itself to a more casual performance.
A favorite for the fans is the songwriting workshop where we actually write a song with the help of the audience. My parents have become a popular addition to the cruise, and we have a Q&A session with them where they tend to say more than they should! There are casual get-togethers where we all just hang out.
What’s really cool is that a lot of the same people who come back year after year and have made lifelong friends that they continue to travel with.
John: I saw at your website the CDs and DVDs items in your Christmas store section are generously priced at $10 and under. Even your newest releases Romanza & All Is Calm CDs are on sale. Would I be correct in saying Christmas is a very special time for you, and could you tell us why Christmas holds so much significance to you personally?
Jim Brickman: This may sound corny but, what makes Christmas so special to me is the music. We hear the same songs year after year. They create memories that tie generations together.
The old songs are sung in their original form or updated versions, but the message is the same. And sharing that with audiences every night is a wonderful gift I can share.
John: You are also involved with many charitable foundations for children. Would you tell us about your work as a philanthropist?
Jim Brickman: I try to get involved with charities that are affected by my music. When I heard that children with Autism responded to my music, I got involved with Autism Speaks. After Beautiful World was released, we raised money for UNICEF.
People tell me how my music has helped them through chemotherapy, and really hard times in their lives. It important to me to help raise awareness any way I can. Also, a scholarship has been established at my alma mater the Cleveland institute of Music in my honor.
John: Do you have any news or information to pass along regarding any new album projects you may have or special events you will be announcing soon?
Jim Brickman: I produced a Carpenters tribute show called Yesterday Once More that is currently touring the US. I’d love to do more theatrical type shows, maybe even write for Broadway!
John: Thank You again for spending time with us by way of our interview Jim. I look forward to the day when I can follow-up by another interview together.
In closing for now, do you have anything you would like to express to the people who will be attending a concert this year, and the many fans that have supported you throughout your career?
Jim Brickman: I am most humbled by people who tell me how my music has touched them. You really can’t measure something like that that in awards and sales.
Visit the jimbrickman.com homepage and the Jim Brickman Store. Find more about the topics Jim mentioned like his Holiday Concert Tour schedule for 2011 & 2012, and listen to his radio program at brickhouseradionetwork.com. Read my pages dedicated to Jim Brickman. Photos are courtesy Kirkland Performance Center & jimbrickman.com.
Jim Brickman’s new piano albums Romanza & All Is Calm have turned out to be two very popular albums after their November 2011 release. Jim Brickman is presently dominating the Billboard charts since both Romanza & All Is Calm are in Billboard’s Top 10 New Age charts, along with a new album entitled Love.
Romanza has 15 songs of inspiration with a fine romantic atmosphere of Italy. The second new album entitled All Is Calm is a brand new holiday collection of 15 Christmas songs. When you visit the jimbrickman.com store, Romanza & All Is Calm can be purchased as individual CDs, but when placing your order for the 2 CD Combo you get 2 free downloads of his first time released songs In My Dreaming & Vino Traboccante as 2 additional bonus tracks.
There is also an interview with Jim Brickman at his website where Jim answers questions about his newest releases. The YouTube interview questions for Jim Brickman are; what was your inspiration for Romanza? What emotions do you hope to convey to your fans with these releases? What makes All Is Calm different from your other Christmas albums?
Jim Brickman has consented to my interview request so I am pleased to announce a New Age Music World interview publication with Jim Brickman and I will be available soon. With the holiday season nearing many of you may like to know more about his Christmas concerts, so I will include several questions about his always popular holiday concert events.
Visit jimbrickman.com homepage and purchase the Romanza & All Is Calm CD Combo at his music store. Jim Brickman’s “A Christmas Celebration” Holiday Concert Tour is available so check his Holiday Concert Tour page for venues in your area. Photo is courtesy jimbrickman.com.
Suzanne Doucet is an award winning composer, producer, recording artist, and conceivably the worldwide leading authority in the new age music industry today. Beginning with her early founding innovations in the new age music business while living in Germany, Suzanne Doucet’s extensive career which spans a number of decades has played a vital role in the New Age Music genre. This is a point that remains true today, and one that simply cannot be overstated.
Suzanne Doucet continues her important leadership role by specializing as a creative consultant to artists, producers and record labels, radio programmers, distributors and music retailers around the globe. The New Age Music Circle is another venue where people of all nationalities have an opportunity to meet Suzanne Doucet, and participate in open dialogue at the forum she hosts from her home in Los Angeles California.
The New Age Music Circle is an international online community forum and discussion platform where top new age artists, industry professionals, and music fans alike can share music, videos, post information about events and participate in forum dialogue that cover a wide range of topics. Suzanne Doucet’s Music Circle is the leading international forum where all interested people and artists have an opportunity to join and meet new friends, exchange ideas with one another, and find out more about many of your favorite artists.
In this comprehensive 2011 interview, review publicist John Olsen has asked questions that detail many biographical aspects of Suzanne Doucet’s life and early career, up to her present day leadership role for which she is recognized today.
Suzanne Doucet Interview;
John Olsen: Thank you for consenting to my interview Suzanne. People want to know more about you, and it is truly an honor to present your most current interview to your many fans, colleagues, and the over a thousand New Age Circle Forum members currently on the membership roster. As a forum member myself I recognize membership extends to people from all parts of the world internationally. Would you like to begin our interview by telling everyone about the Circle, in terms of how the New Age Music Circle began, its mission, and plans for the future?
Suzanne Doucet: Thank you John for giving me the opportunity to have this interview with you. I feel very fortunate to be able to express my views with someone so experienced and prolific like you. To answer your question about the New Age Music Circle, this is how it actually began. Many years ago, in 1987 when we, (my husband James and I) opened the first and only new age music store in the world in West Hollywood/Melrose district, I also started an organization called “The New Age Music Network.” This organization was designed to support our genre and to bring our community closer together.
Somehow our store very quickly became a busy center and hub not only for customers, but also for artists and industry people. It was a time when new age music became very popular and we had monthly gatherings and events in our store for the new age music community. This eventually expanded into the International New Age Music Conference in 1989. Two more conferences followed and the First New Age World Music Festival at the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles. We also had New Age Music Awards. Our early members included Stephen Hill, Peter Baumann, Steven Halpern, Michael Hoppé, Peter Kater, Richard Burmer, Michael Stearns, Paul Horn, Jai Uttal, Steve Roach, Matt Marshall from Higher Octave, the Radio Station 94.7 The Wave, Suzanne Ciani and many others. During the recession in 1992 we had to close our physical store after 5 years but quickly took Only New age Music online. We registered NewAgeMusic.com in 1995. However the New Age Music Network was dormant after our last conference in 1991 until 2008. Then in 2008 the idea surfaced to reactivate the New Age Music Network online and to reconnect with all previous members, along with many new members, so I started the New Age Music Circle under the Ning Social Networking site online at: NewAgeMusik.Ning.com.
I guess it was just the right time, because many of my old friends and colleagues including Frank Schenker, Lloyd Barde, Steven Halpern, Kit Thomas and Michael Hoppé asked me why don’t we reactivate the New Age Music conference. I thought before we reactivate the conference we have to recreate the “official membership organization.” Now in terms of reactivating a New Age Music Conference I am suggesting to focus more on an event. This could be the New Age Music Awards (NAMA) followed by the conference. These are our plans for the future. Many members of the circle have responded very enthusiastic about this idea. I hope we can manifest it in 2012 or 2013.
John: Sounds from the Circle is a 3-album collection of releases from Circle member artists who submitted their New Age, or related sub-genre music to you for the 2009, 2010, and 2011 compilation albums. Would you tell us about the 3 Sounds from the Circle releases?
Suzanne Doucet: When I started the New Age Music Circle, a lot of artists placed their music on their pages, and in order to be able to listen on a continuous basis I featured my favorite tracks on the front page at the Circle Forum. I was amazed how much new music and great new talents were there, whom I was not aware of. I thought that their music and the music of all circle members should be made available to a broader audience and should also reach the industry and the media. My friend Beth Hilton and I came up with a concept for an MP3 compilation versus a regular CD. We were able to lower the cost for the participants and expand the listening time as well as having an innovative approach that might catch people’s attention for our genre. I invited the artists of the circle to participate for a small fee and the response was great!
We also made the Sounds from the Circle I, II & III available on iTunes as a play list, so the general public can purchase the compilations and every artist is receiving digital download income. We are sending the compilations to the media and we are distributing them at major tradeshows such as INATS or MIDEM. Right now I am preparing Sounds from the Circle IV, which should be available in early 2012. We are reaching a lot of people and we are able to promote the music from the artists of the circle as well as the New Age Music Circle itself and last but not least, the New Age Music genre!
John: You have an extensive career Suzanne, which began during the years you lived in Germany. What was your earliest introduction to music, and at what point did you decide to pursue a career in music?
Suzanne Doucet: The earliest introduction to music I can remember was singing a Christmas song on stage when I was 2 ½ years old. I remember very clearly standing there seeing the audience and singing this beautiful song which translated said: “I am coming from heaven to bring you a message.” Later I would grab any instrument and try to play it. I recall my mother teaching me how to play harmonica when I was 5 and later I was given a violin at the age of 8 by my grandfather, but I was not allowed to practice in the house where we lived. So, I would go into the forest and play there. When I was eleven I was able to practice piano and started piano lessons, which also included me starting to write my first compositions. I was very fortunate to have a piano teacher who was quite “new age” in her approach. The book we used in the lessons was called The Inner Listening. In the beginning I had to play one tone after another and listen to it until the sound vanished into silence. Only many years later I understood the value of those lessons and what a great teacher I had.
However I studied all classical composers and played Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Schuman, Schubert, Chopin, Bartok and many more of the popular classical and modern composers. My mother who was an actress had the most incredible vinyl music collection you can imagine and played continuously classical, jazz, Folklore and what we today call World Music.
When I was 16 I lived in Switzerland. I really missed the piano and wished for a guitar. I taught myself to play the guitar and learned over 300 folk and pop songs in many different languages. I also started to write my own songs and when I moved to Munich Germany and later to Paris France, I would sing in clubs, in the streets and parks. I was also very involved in painting. My family always thought I would become a painter. I started drawing when I was 3 and painted in oil and aquarelle later until my music career took over and I concentrated more on composing, writing and performing. I actually sold a few paintings at the age of 16 and financed my “independence” by moving to Munich Germany on my own without any financial support from my parents!
John: Early in life as it turned out, you became a very popular artist who achieved rock star status with several #1 hits in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Would you tell us about this period in your life, and the effect this had on your music career from then on?
Suzanne Doucet: It was really not my intention to become a recording artist. It just happened. I went to Munich to go the Academy of Visual Arts and I was planning to maybe go to acting school as well. However I missed the enrollment and made a living partially with selling newspapers in the arts quarters of Munich, mostly in the evenings in clubs. It was much easier to sell those papers when I sang a few songs with the bands.
There was also song competitions going on every week and I won first place most of the time, which got me my first job as a singer in an American Forces Night Club. That was a great training because I had to learn 40 plus American standards (songs) in two weeks and I had to play percussion, guitar and sometimes piano in the band. A few months later a colleague of my mother asked me if I wanted to do an audition for the main German TV station NDR in Hamburg. They were looking for completely unknown talents and planning a series of improvised shows. Improvisation was one of my passions and I loved to do standup comedy, sketches, and improvised scenes.
I went with a very talented young actor and friend Martin Luettge, and we had no expectations whatsoever to get the gig. We were very excited just to have a chance to see a television studio. Actually that was much more important to us. We were very surprised that we were the only ones invited, and we had a contract for two years in our pocket when we left. That first show was a success and a few other TV shows followed. In the same year I received an offer from a record company to do a single. I wasn’t too crazy about singing German pop songs, but I made a deal with Leif Kraul who was the president of Metronome. If I had a hit record I would then be able to record an album with my own songs. He agreed to my proposal not knowing that my second single (the German version of the U.S. hit Be my Baby) went to the #1 charts in Germany. After 2 subsequent hit singles I went to Leif in 1965 and asked him about our agreement. He was not too happy about it and said that “we should not confuse the public now.” This was his way of saying no. So, I offered to produce my first album myself, and with my own money. The only condition was that Metronome would release the album. He agreed, probably thinking that, I would never do that but six months later I put the finished master on his desk. That was the album Rot wie Rubin. This changed my status in the entertainment industry in Germany completely.
John: I found your career as an actress and television entertainer very impressive Suzanne. You were in fact a star! I read during your role as entertainer and hostess for popular, prime time television shows in Germany and Switzerland, guests on your prime time televised programs included the famous superstars; Bee Gees, Grateful Dead, Keith Emerson, David Bowie, and many more star celebrities. Do you have some memorable stories you would like to share while you were an entertainment hostess, and would you tell us all about your career as an actress?
Suzanne Doucet: I always worked as an actress throughout my career which included plays, theater and musicals like Godspell with Donna Summer in Munich, TV-Plays and doing voice overs, directory assistance, script and film editing. I also started directing and producing when I was 19 – 20 years old. Because of my mother being an actress, mostly theater, I performed on stage very early at age 11 and played my first main role on stage when I was 17.
Pretty much everything I did in my career happened unexpectedly. All of a sudden I found myself a singer, appearing in major TV shows next to celebrities and being on cover pages, getting hundreds of fan letters per day. It was a great time and I took the opportunity to learn as much as I could, but I was never really attached to this world of glitter and fame.
Something in me was always pointing to a deeper reality and my vision was to express those thoughts and feelings through art. One of the greatest opportunities for me was that I could travel the world through my ability to perform and enjoy experiencing many different countries and cultures. I came to the U.S. for the first time in 1968.
My main interest was not to be in the spotlight, but to produce and direct. I had a passion for film as well. My vision of an ideal art form was music combined with visuals. So, I took every opportunity to learn wherever I was. While shooting TV shows I studied what the camera was doing, went to the editing room and discussed production topics with the producer and director. How can entertainment be improved? How can we bring in more quality and important messages?
Swiss and German TV asked me to become a host in their top music shows and I happily accepted. Being a host for 2 of the most popular European shows at the time was another opportunity to do things differently! I was able to co-create the concepts of the presentations in the format of innovative sketches and of course there were many interesting encounters with great artists, managers, musicians, directors and industry executives. One of the shows I did was in Switzerland was called Hits a gogo. It was a live TV show, which I liked much more than taped shows. There is something amazing for me in the “irreplaceable moment” and the uniqueness of “this is it.” Even if the walls are falling or someone is not showing up in time, which happened in my shows several times, you have to pull through. It is like playing theater or performing on stage. You never know how it will turn out and that brings in the magic. I had to speak 4 languages in this show. German, French, Italian, and English. I think the funniest show was one in which I addressed the UK artists in Italian and the French guys in German, the German artists in French and the Italian artist in English.
I remember having David Bowie in 1968 with his first hit Space Oddity in my show and the progressive rock group Yes and so many other great performers. Unforgettable was for me Keith Emerson with his group The Nice as my guest in the first color TV show in Switzerland. He played the song America. It was an awesome performance! You can see this video on You Tube. Several years later I saw him again with Emerson, Lake & Palmer in New York, at Madison Square Garden. That was one of the greatest concerts I have ever seen in my life!
John: Early on you established your own record company (Isis Music International) and had introduced new age music in Europe for the very first time by songs from your album entitled In Essig und Oel. In fact, many of your songs and albums like Red as a Ruby & Reisefieber were very innovative. Could you tell us about your groundbreaking songs, albums, and releases you produced with other artists?
Suzanne Doucet: Yes, after having been signed to various Indies and major labels of Metronome, Liberty, Prom (CBS, TELDEC), Phillips and EMI. Still struggling with the industry about quality and commerce, I finally decided to start my own label. My first release was my last album as a singer with what you could call “new age songs” in 1979. I was singing songs about my own “spiritual journey.” This endeavor was quite successful and I received a lot of applause from the audience, the media and the industry! I was organizing my own PR, radio and retail tour, which was challenging. But most of the TV and radio hosts were supportive and embraced the idea that an artist would start their own label with enthusiasm. I was able to get onto the music charts and do well with my first release Reisefieber, which was also my last album as a singer.
I had started already in 1970 to break out of the traditional pop format by releasing a psychedelic Krautrock adventure on Phillips. A triple album called Zweistein (artist/group) Trip, Flip Out, and Meditation. You can see from the titles where I was heading. I went from psychedelics to spirituality like many other colleagues from my generation. In 1974 I recorded In Essig & Oel which was my first album with new age songs and poetic songs describing a deeper meaning of life and searching for truth.
Musically I believe that I was fortunate to always work with the most outstanding musicians, arrangers and sound engineers. And as a producer I always pushed the envelope. The result was that these productions stood out and received raving reviews for what they were. You could not really compare my albums with anyone else. That was on one hand a great advantage on the other hand seemed an obstacle for the industry. They could never seem to place me in one particular category.
I was always looking for the best possible way of expression and I never liked to conform to certain preconceived ideas or concepts. This was already apparent in my first album production Rot wie Rubin with Rio Gregory. The best description for this album is probably “Ethereal, Poetic Songs and Sound Paintings.” These elements always remained in my albums. I was looking for something new and innovative, and later with artists such as Christian Buehner, Gary Miraz, Chuck Plaisance or Tajalli, I explored new sounds and new ways of composing, performing and recording in the instrumental world of new age music.
John: You have numerous collaboration and solo albums, many of which were groundbreaking at the time like we have talked about earlier. Of your latest recordings and re-releases, what are some albums you would suggest people to sample, for those who may not be as familiar with your music?
Suzanne Doucet: My first collaboration with Christian Buehner was the album Transformation in 1982. From my solo albums I would recommend Reflecting Light & The OM Sound. With Tajalli I recorded Tantra Zone and with Chuck Plaisance over 40 albums of Nature Sounds and Nature Sounds with Music. I would recommend The Sounds of Nature Sampler and the Tranquility Series Sampler. Resonance with Gary Miraz is one of my favorites because it was created so effortlessly. Sireena in Germany recently released a compilation of my singer, songwriter era. The album is called Wo sind all die schoenen Jahre. It has songs from 4 albums. The songs can be sampled at Tunes.
John: You moved to California in 1983 and later founded the very first new age music retail outlet store in the world called Only New Age Music. Would you tell us about your business experience and events during this time in your life?
Suzanne Doucet: The idea to open up a store dedicated to the New Age Music genre came from my own experience by having to go to 5 different stores to find 5 different albums. I thought there should a place where people can find everything they are looking for in new age music. My husband and daughter Natascha, who was 7 years old at the time, drove cross-country twice and we visited every bookstore and every distributor of new age music we could find in 1983 – 1984. We also visited and met with many artists and upcoming record labels. We went to new age communities and centers and shows like the Whole Life Expo and others. It was exciting for us to see that there was a real community, much larger than in Germany or Europe at the time. We started selling our own cassettes from Isis Music in Venice at the boardwalk in 1986 and we wanted to expand into a retail outlet. It took us 6 months to find the right place. My son Shaman was 6 months old, and Natascha was 10 years old when we sold cassettes at the beach.
John: I read many customers of your Only New Age Music store were famous celebrities. Steve Martin was one celebrity. Who were some of the other regular patrons of your business?
Suzanne Doucet: Robert Redford, Sylvester Stallone, William Schatner, Prince, Sonja Braga, Shirley Maclaine and many others. They all bought new age music from our store for various reasons. I guess we had opened the store at the right time in the right place. The day after our official opening we had the LA times, Billboard magazine, Eyes on LA, CBS News, and in the weeks and months following, Japanese and European Television as well as Life Magazine and many more. Two months after our opening the mainstream Radio Station KTWV – The WAVE started playing new age music and sent every listener who called our way. We were able to co-sponsor concerts with The WAVE like Suzanne Ciani at the Roxie (which was a FIRST) and so we became the center hub for new age music. It all just happened naturally.
John: Another first you are credited with is your production and direction of the very first 3 international New Age Music Conferences. Plus you organized the very first New Age World Music Festival featuring 22 international bands and musicians in Los Angeles. Please Suzanne, would you tell us all about your leadership role in these historic events involving the New Age Music genre?
Suzanne Doucet: As I mentioned before the new age music network that was formed in 1987 evolved into these conferences and the concert at the Wiltern. I had this vision that the public did not really grasp the multitude of diverse influences from various cultures and musical styles that new age musicians would incorporate in their music. I felt a concert bringing as many different expressions of this music on stage would be the driving force behind the idea for the store, for the conference, and the concert.
John: Today during your present position as marketing strategist, consultant and online retailer, you assist hundreds of musicians, producers, record labels, radio and radio programmers, and music retailers. It seems you offer assistance to nearly everyone! This is a really broad question but would you outline your responsibilities, professional services you offer, and the corresponding websites?
Suzanne Doucet: I have been assisting other artists and record labels with the help of my husband James since 1987. Because I have a broad view of the new age music market being an artist, publisher, label owner, retailer, promoter and producer myself, I can put myself almost into anyone’s shoes. I am very often looking at campaign strategies from various aspects to make sure it works for the artist, but also for the media person, the retailer or the distributor. Whether we are talking about production, packaging, promotion, sales or advertising it has to work for everyone involved. Many artists see everything from their own perspective only, so I am coaching them and assisting them in whatever their project is.
I have been very fortunate to work with amazing talents such as Alex de Grassi, Patrick O’Hearn, Liquid Mind, Omar Akram, Christopher Franke (TG), Paul Avgerinos, Golaná, Ray Leonard, Michael Hoppé, Fiona Joy Hawkins, Lia Scallon and Hennie Bekker, to mention a few. I also worked with various record labels in the capacity of a creative consultant.
I assisted Soundscan with their New Age genre definition and programmed several DMX music channels. What I am offering is assistance with audio and video production, packaging, graphics, promotion and marketing. I provide innovative ideas and new solutions in any area of the project. You could also call me a project director and/or project manager. I believe one of the most important aspects of my work is that I fill in the gaps. I usually find out very quickly what is missing and help provide the missing components. My strengths also involve strategy, campaign planning and looking for creative ways of enhancing a project. I love graphic arts and filming. Whenever needed I create artwork, and together with my husband and Beth Hilton to produce videos, interviews and visual music clips. You can see some on YouTube.
I still don’t have any formula and look at every project with fresh eyes. I work with a team of professional promoters, marketing experts and distribution channels. I believe I am quite flexible with my services and I am willing to talk for an hour with someone and give him or her, the information he or she can use with no strings attached, or work on a continuous basis, monthly, or sometimes for years. One of my clients has used my services for almost 20 years on and off. I can take on tasks myself and do work for the artist but I prefer that the artist learns everything I know, so they can do it themselves and they won’t require my assistance anymore.
John: I read you serve on the GRAMMY® committee. If the NARAS (National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences) guidelines allow, can you tell us your role while serving on the GRAMMY® Awards committee?
Suzanne Doucet: I am not allowed to specifically talk about my role at NARAS (National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences), but I have to say that I enjoy very much what I am doing there for the past 25 years.
John: Your career so multifaceted and diverse Suzanne! I am sure there are many topics I am leaving out. Is there anything you would like to tell about yourself? Perhaps you could tell everyone about the recognition and achievements you have been honored with during your career?
Suzanne Doucet: It might be important to mention that through immaterial gifts from my parents I was able to learn a lot very early in life which enabled me to have trust in whatever I was doing. My mother being an actress introduced me from infancy on to theater, art, music, literature, philosophy, healthy living, yoga and metaphysics. My father, a Jungian Psychologist introduced me early on to the most important questions in life, for example who I am, what life is all about, and how can find understanding of this existence. Without them I would not have been able to accomplish the various things I did in life, so I am very grateful to my parents for their support.
I would also like to mention that I was always conscious of the spiritual reality as long as I can remember, but never attached to any religion or group. I studied many spiritual traditions and I also studied psychologists such as C.G. Jung. Through my father’s (Dr. F.W. Doucet) studies in parapsychology, and super learning in the late sixties and early seventies I slowly integrated metaphysical elements into my work, and that’s how I really came to create new age music. My father inspired me to study Pythagorean Harmonics, which to me is one of the most fascinating subjects on earth and this study naturally gave me the understanding why music created with a certain consciousness and understanding is so essential for everyone on this planet.
I also have to thank my musical mentor Rio Gregory, an incredible pianist, arranger and composer whom I met when I was 16. He guided me musically for many years and we wrote many songs together. Also Anja Hauptmann, my lyrical collaborator and best friend was instrumental in many ways. There were numerous other friends and colleagues who inspired the work I am doing and every one of them has a place in my heart.
There were a few awards. I remember in 1966 I won second place at the Song Festival in Knoggke, Belgium. I received an award in Italy even earlier in 1962, which was the Golden Margharita in Viareggio Italy, and there might have been a few other festivals in Europe. In the U.S., I received a Silver Award for best Music Video at the Houston Film and Video Festival for Starflight, a visual music piece produced and directed with Christopher Toussaint. I received a COVR award for Feather on the Wind – an album a co-produced with Golaná. I also wrote the title song and won an award for Best Mediation and Best Electronic Album for my collaboration with RAY (Ray Leonard). The album is called Celestial Touch.
John: Thank You again for taking time out for our interview Suzanne. I trust we will find time to interview again in the future. For now, is there anything you would like to express to your fans, colleagues, or Circle members?
Suzanne Doucet: Many thanks to everyone I was able to meet, and for sharing their music and experiences with me. I am blessed to have met so many wonderful people in my life, many of them in the new age music community. I love my fans, colleagues and Circle members. I am grateful to be part of such a creative and talented community, and I truly do not perceive myself so much as the doer but more as an instrument among many others in this fabulous orchestra of existence. Thank you too John for this interview.
You can visit Suzanne Doucet & Circle members at NewAgeMusik.ning.com & her personal SuzanneDoucet.com website. You can find more great music for sample or purchase at her NewAgeMusic.com & NewAgeUniverse.com sites. Visit her YouTube Channel & her New Age Music Channel and my Suzanne Doucet page. Photos are courtesy Suzanne Doucet.
Spectrum by Hennie Bekker is one of the best relaxation albums I have heard so far from the award winning artist who has entertained multitudes of people over the course of several decades. Hennie Bekker from Canada, who was born and raised in Africa and lived in England, brings an entire world of experience to his music, and believe me it shows on his newest release.
An Anthology Of Relaxing Instrumental Music is the subtitle of his Spectrum album, which I found to be an wide assortment of melodic songs pointing to the diverse abilities of a truly world-class musician. The entire life work, credits and achievements of Hennie Bekker could easily fill the page of this article alone, but I can briefly say the review of his life work is very impressive.
Hennie Bekker is a multi-platinum musician who has spent his entire music career exploring a wide array of genres, from new age, electronic, instrumental, world music, and practically everything in-between. His nature inspired soundscape designer albums in the Kaleidoscopes, African Tapestries & Hennie Bekker’s Tranquility series are fine examples of his ever increasing variation in style, as is his highly acclaimed work with Dan Gibson’s Solitudes – Exploring Nature with Music series. Their Solitudes series was so popular the releases reached gold, platinum, double and triple platinum status.
Hennie Bekker chose another new direction by becoming a leading member of the techno/dance 3 member group BKS. The group BKS ended up winning a prestigious Juno Award from the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS), which is equivalent to an American GRAMMY® Award. Film scores and recordings for television and radio can also be included in his growing list of lifetime achievements.
Spectrum is a relaxing album highlighting the entire range and variety of this artist who has composed and produced over 60 albums to date, along with his compositional arrangements and collaborations that number well over a thousand. In a way Spectrum can be considered a “Best of Hennie Bekker Album” since of the 14 songs total, eleven of these songs are recordings selected from his finest music collection to date.
I couldn’t help but think that it would be worth a minute of your time to check out the world-class music Hennie Bekker has spent his entire lifetime perfecting. Visit henniebekker.com to sample or purchase Spectrum, or visit his amazon.com page. Photos are courtesy henniebekker.com.
If you were a touring concert pianist with Julio Iglesias most artists who play the piano at this level would be perfectly content performing sold out concerts with a star performer, but Chad Lawson is not like most new age pianist in this respect.
Performing concert tours with Julio Iglesias before thousands of people was of course rewarding as anyone could imagine, and it speaks of his talents as a pianist, but Chad Lawson’s solo piano career was waiting. During his career he was the leader of his own jazz trio, contributed to albums of a variety of great artists, and has produced several film scores, with another movie score nearing completion.
Chad Lawson’s new solo piano release entitled The Piano is another great album from this artist who won Whisperings Album of the Year award in 2009 with his debut solo album entitled Set On A Hill. His debut solo piano album produced by GRAMMY® Award winner Will Ackerman, moved Chad’s solo career in a positive new direction. Today his newest release highlights the compositions of Johann Sebastian Bach.
The Piano featuring 10 songs of Chad Lawson’s latest songs for solo piano can be sampled by the song video of Nocturne in a Minor shown below. Visit ChadLawson.com to sample or purchase The Piano or go to his amazon.com page.
Jon Anderson’s new song Open is a download available for purchase at iTunes. For many like me the earlier pre-release publicity alone was a reason for excitement and anticipation. I am pleased to say everything you have read about Jon Anderson’s download song Open is correct.
After sampling Jon Anderson’s Open at iTunes, I can tell you Jon has indeed created a masterpiece! For those who haven’t heard, I can report it is true Jon has returned to his Yes origins, but in a much more dramatic way!
And the good news from what Anderson has said is this first song is only the beginning, stating he will produce more dynamic music with full orchestrations in the future so check back with me now and then. I will let everyone know the minute I hear the news about a new release.
There is more news about Jon I can tell you now since he has requested Christophe Lebled collaborate on a new project in 2012. Jon and Christophe Lebled’s new project album is a re-creation of the entire LP Olias of Sunhillow – Live in 2012. The first Olias of Sunhillow album as many of you may know was originally Jon Anderson’s first solo album where he sang and played every instrument completely by himself.
Open is an epic 21 minute opus structured in the progressive works of classic Yes songs like Close To The Edge, Gates of Delirium, Revealing, & Awaken. There are already some song reviews of Open at iTunes, and the reviews from Jon’s fans and Yes fans are very positive. In their reviews of Open, comments like: “magnificent, refreshing, excellent and compelling” are words used to describe Jon’s newest release. In all honesty I couldn’t have said it any better myself.
Open features the eclectic vocals of Jon Anderson united with a full brass section, strings and full percussion orchestrations by Stefan Podell. Together this song in four continuous movements, delivers a powerful proclamation of peace, love, light and freedom. The beautifully conveyed piece with dynamic orchestrations will leave you breathless.
Jon Anderson is on tour in the U.S. and Canada with early Yes member Rick Wakeman. The legendary Yes duo Anderson and Wakeman are touring in support of their release The Living Tree. Jon is presently touring solo too, with concert dates scheduled in 2011 & 2012. In December 2011 Jon will be performing select solo concerts in South America.
It’s the progressive nature of Jon Anderson’s music that keeps his solo career and Yes fans, wanting more. And more is what we will get. From what Anderson has said in press releases, more dynamic music like Open is what we can anticipate from this highly prolific artist.
Visit jonanderson.com for news and Jon Anderson’s yearly tour schedule on his tour information page. Purchase Open at iTunes. Read my Jon Anderson interview in 2011 and Survival & Other Stories album review on my Jon Anderson pages. Photos are courtesy jonanderson.com.
Christmas is the most important holiday of the year for most people. While this is especially true for marketing retailers, they too, along with the majority of people also recognize the supreme reason for the season, and truly enjoy the building anticipation during the preceding days, weeks and months leading up to Christmas Day.
If you are like me, simply listening to Christmas music can help one transition into the holiday frame of mind. And while everyone has their own individual pace for getting into the Christmas mood sooner or later, I can always depend on holiday music to renew my Christmas spirit.
Listening to popular Christmas songs prompts an association of my own past holiday experiences with family and friends. Likewise there is a vast selection of music to choose from since many popular artists past and present, have produced outstanding holiday music for our enjoyment over the years.
The best Christmas albums in all popular genres including new age are very comparable since many artists compose their own revision of traditional Christmas songs. It seems nearly everyone is familiar with mainstream traditional songs, so for many us there is even less of an apple to oranges comparison in terms of genre. Sometimes they are so much alike the easiest way to classify their melodies is to simply call it holiday music.
Along with the Christmas holidays is the yearly task of finding a suitable gift for family and friends. One gift idea I would like to suggest is the gift of music, and it doesn’t matter whether your gift is in the form of an mp3 or CD. Music is a gift idea that is relatively inexpensive, and most people will enjoy receiving any time of the year. The economical gift of music can be the perfect choice for many special occasions including birthdays, and in some cases, weddings and anniversaries.
Finding the best Christmas albums for your holiday listening experience is pretty easy too. There is an increasing number of outstanding Christmas albums I would consider my favorites so permit me to tell you about 12 Christmas albums in the New Age genre. Listed in the order of the artist tags at my site, the 12 best Christmas albums are listed by alphabet using the artist’s first name. If you are interested in popular holiday albums for entertaining or gift giving, below is my list of the best Christmas albums with direct links so that you may sample or purchase my holiday music recommendations.
12 Best Christmas Albums for Holiday Music.
1. A Midnight Clear – Christmas in Mitford (Soundtrack) by Bill Leslie.
A Midnight Clear is an instrumental album with 16 songs of traditional and original music. Bill Leslie has another sensational new release people of all ages can enjoy listening to with A Midnight Clear. Drawing his inspiration from author Jan Karon and her best-selling Mitford series, nine instrumentalists join Bill Leslie on the newest release in November 2011 of the 12 Best New Age Christmas Albums recommendation.
While Bill Leslie is recognized as an award winning musician, Bill Leslie is a 5 time Emmy Award winning journalist and newscaster for WRAL television network, and a recipient of multiple Journalist of the Year awards in North Carolina. He is also the composing director and soloist of his traditional and Celtic fusion music group Lorica. In 2010 Simple Beauty won an award for Best Instrumental Album – Acoustic at Zone Music Reporter.
2. Holiday High by Cadence Spalding.
Holiday High is an inspiring new age Christmas album with 10 songs with a intermingling of traditional and original holiday music from 2009. The angelic vocals by Cadence Spalding are a beautiful performance on Holiday High. The innovative talents of mixing and layering are introduced by husband Mars Lasar. Together with beautiful vocals by Cadence and Mars Lasar’s special creative touch, Holiday High is a release far apart from many other Christmas albums.
Holiday High is a traditional Christmas album displaying the serene musical qualities of a highly talented couple, who have earned a respected position in the music world by their individual albums. Save The World by Cadence Spalding is another New Age release worthy of your consideration. While Save The World is not a holiday release, Cadence Spalding’s debut release won NewAgeMusic.nu’s Best New Age Album Award in 2009. Her classical new age popular music is a pleasant mix of ballads finely tuned to perfection in the purest sense, and best describes the question of “what is new age music” best.
3. A Christmas Celebration by Celtic Woman.
A Christmas Celebration is a Celtic instrumental vocal album from 2006 with 15 song revisions of traditional holiday music performed with grace and style. This is the second release from Celtic Woman who is made up from a female musical ensemble with Irish origins. Recognized internationally by their charming vocals with instrumental backing, Celtic Woman is a quality group who has earned a worldwide fan base and escalation in popularity over the years.
A Christmas Celebration was certified a Gold album by RIAA in 2009 with a volume of sales reaching over 500,000 copies. Along with international concert tours in the United States and overseas, their PBS television series with special orchestra performances on CD and DVD and over 6 million in album sales, they have entertained a multitude of people worldwide.
The DVD releases A New Journey–Live at Slane Castle is one of their most popular. The CD/DVD editions of Celtic Woman, A New Journey, The Greatest Journey, & Songs From The Heart are equally popular. The sixth and seventh most current albums from 2011 are Celtic Woman: Lullaby & Celtic Woman: Believe.
4. And Winter Came by Enya.
And Winter Came is a 2008 release from superstar Enya with 12 holiday songs with a winter theme. With over 75 million in album sales worldwide, it’s no exaggeration the Irish born Enya is loved by millions by her collection of Celtic, new age, adult alternative repertoire. And Winter Came recalls the enchanting moments of the season with brilliant beauty.
Enya is a phenomenal female artist who has won four Grammy Awards for Best New Age Album, in addition to an Academy Award nomination. Easily becoming one of the most popular award winning female artists in history, Enya and her trademark melodies are the hallmark of year round quality music.
Whether Enya’s holiday album And Winter Came is your first choice, there are more great albums to choose from. The Very Best Of Enya is a popular chose, like Memory of Trees & A Day Without Rain which sold 15 million copies worldwide is a very popular choice. The album Amarantine from 2005 is another fine song collection, and we certainly can’t forget her early classic releases Shepard Moons & Watermark.
5. Christmas Joy by Fiona Joy Hawkins.
Christmas Joy is a brand new 2011 release with 11 songs of four original compositions and seven revisions on traditional holiday music. On Christmas Joy, pianist Fiona Joy Hawkins introduces a bold mixture of classical and jazz influences combined with world music rhythms and instruments of Didgeridoo, Gaelic, Paraguayan harp, soprano saxophone and stringed orchestra. Fiona even lends her vocals on this release. Musicians accompanying Fiona Joy Hawkins on piano and vocals are Philip Aaberg, Will Ackerman, Charlie Bisharat, and Eugene Friesen and Heather Rankin.
Fiona Joy Hawkins Blue Dream album is a piano and instrumental collaboration with other professional artists that received top music honors and again extended the worldwide admiration for her work. Fiona is a multiple awarding winning pianist who covers new age, classical, contemporary, jazz and world fusion music. Recognized internationally by her award winning piano and instrumentals, you can always depend on Fiona Joy Hawkins to create an exciting mix of songs that are without out exception, produced with quality.
6. Christmas for Two by Lisa Downing.
Christmas for Two is a beautiful piano solo album with 12 original revisions of traditional holiday music. Lisa Downing has a special gift herself as a top solo pianist, and this is especially articulated on her holiday music release. Lisa’s collection of original arrangements in traditional Christmas melodies are a mixture of contemplative and energizing pieces which will inspire the holiday spirit in anyone who listens. Lisa Downing has produced another winning album with Christmas for Two.
Lisa Downing did in fact win award recognition with Christmas for Two in NewAgeMusic.nu’s Best New Age Album Award in 2009, and an award for Best Holiday Album in 2010 at Zone Music Reporter. A Delicate Balance is her solo piano, new age, neo -classical release from 2009 that carries with it a special Lisa Downing touch. Along with her business endeavor and talent agency Vision Quest Entertainment, Lisa is a touring concert pianist who performs many concert venues each year, including corporate and private events. She is an esteemed concert pianist who has toured or performed with other renowned artists David Lanz, Suzanne Ciani, Liz Story, Joseph Akins and Peter Kater. Lisa Downing is a great artist who certainly belongs in this Best New Age Christmas Albums recommendation.
7. Keys of Christmas by Louis Colaiannia.
Keys of Christmas is a piano, instrumental and vocal new age album with 9 songs in an assortment of original and traditional holiday music. Due to be officially released on December 1, 2011, Louis Colaiannia is a talented songwriter, pianist and concert performer. When you listen to Keys of Christmas, you can tell right away the classically trained pianist who explores contemporary piano, jazz, new age and chill out music, has in fact produced a wonderful holiday arrangement. Enjoy the season in perfect harmony with Keys Of Christmas.
Louis Colaiannia’s album A Moment Between Eternities is a classic, instrumental new age contemporary release in 2011. The wonderful range in thought and feel with contemporary variations of classical orchestrations express the passion in which Louis composes every one of his album releases. The 9 songs on A Moment Between Eternities are like modern improvisations on classical music by graceful piano songs emboldened by contemporary instrumentals.
8. Christmas Symphony by Mannheim Steamroller.
Christmas Symphony is a new popular instrument album in 2011 with 16 of your holiday song favorites. This beautiful full symphony sound instrumental release is performed with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, and includes some vocals. Many of you may know this, but Mannheim Steamroller is the most popular Christmas music artist of all time. And that’s a fact. With 28 million in album sales in the United States alone, and their legendary concert tours, it’s easy to see why they have become so popular.
The vast selection of Mannheim Steamroller holiday albums include Christmasville, Christmas Sweet Memo, Christmas Song, Celebration, Christmas Extraordinaire, 25 Year Celebration, Christmas Angel, Christmas Live & A Fresh Aire Christmas. With this long list of popular holiday albums like Christmas Symphony, it’s easy to find what you are looking for.
Mannheim Steamroller founder Chip Davis, and co-found Jackson Berkey have recently announced their annual holiday celebration “The Christmas Music of Mannheim Steamroller by Chip Davis” will soon begin their Christmas concert tour season, so check their website for concerts in your area. Check out their great selection of gifts too.
9. Christmas 25th Anniversary Collection by Mannheim Steamroller.
The Christmas 25th Anniversary Collection from 2009 is a 2 CD collector’s edition of 25 song favorites. The 2 CD song playlist for this excellent edition was selected by Chip Davis himself. If you are like me there are songs you will remember from years past, but it is all about the technical sound enhancements and playlist that makes this release special. After the 25 year anniversary tour last year, Chip Davis continues the tradition of live concerts for audiences around the country.
Mannheim Steamroller has also released a 2 CD disc album in their Fresh Aire Music Series that is a “best of the best” from the popular Fresh Aire series. The 25 songs selected by the band founding director Chip Davis are some of the most popular songs in the entire 8 disk Fresh Aire series. Mannheim Steamroller’s awards of 16 gold records, 7 platinum records and 4 multi-platinum records, Christmas albums and holiday concerts have made them the #1 Christmas music artist of all time.
10. Christmas from Mars by Mars Lasar.
Christmas from Mars is a new age instrumental album with electronic designs on 10 traditional Christmas melodies. This “Best Christmas Albums” recommendation simply wouldn’t be complete without including the 2007 holiday release from Mars Lasar. Recognized for his versatility and talents in electronic instrumental music, Christmas from Mars shines by the aptitude and expertize he conveys in every one of his albums.
Cadence Spalding performs angelic vocals on this album, so together this husband and wife team’s Holiday High & Christmas From Mars both have vocals by Cadence and Mars Lasar’s special creative touch and technical aptitude that sets their albums apart from many others in this category. Both Mars and Cadence have earned a respected position in the music world by their individual albums and ones they have produced together. Mars Lasar’s most current is a solo piano album with 18 songs entitled Piano Moods From Mars.
11. Christmas Eve and Other Stories by Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
Christmas Eve and Other Stories are a progressive rock adaptation of 17 songs from 1996 in a 1 CD or mp3 format. If you are familiar with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and their theatrical linage of songs, then you know Christmas Eve and Other Stories is unlike any other artist in my top albums recommendations. While I can advise every one of their songs is non-traditional, I can also say every song is special!
Trans-Siberian Orchestra has two very popular concept theme albums entitled Beethoven’s Last Night & Night Castle. Given their name, it does imply they are a Russian based act, but Trans-Siberian Orchestra is in fact a group based in the United States. Along with a huge fan following, their concert and album sales reach into the millions. Their just as popular Christmas themed album series are The Christmas Attic & The Lost Christmas Eve. Trans-Siberian Orchestra may leave you wondering if they are new age, progressive rock, symphonic, or classical music, but whatever classification you decide, you will definitely be impressed.
12. A Windham Hill Christmas by Various Artists.
A Windham Hill Christmas is an excellent release from 2002 featuring 14 song revisions on some of your most familiar holiday songs featuring Windham Hill artists. In this case, by various artists is a good thing! The Grammy Award winning founder of Windham Hill Will Ackerman even performs on the song What Strangers are These. It’s a wonderful instrumental album with a variety of top artists in the music business.
On A Windham Hill Christmas album there are so many top artists that space doesn’t permit me to list every professional. Popular artists on this release you are sure to recognize are Jim Brickman, George Winston, Tim Story, Tracy Silverman, Alex De Grassi, Liz Story, Paul Schwartz and many more. The hallmarks of this album are a relaxing, right at home feel you will notice right away. It’s some of the best songs available from the experts at Windham Hill.
This concludes my 12 Best Christmas holiday album recommendations. On January 1 2012 New Age Music World will present the Best New Age Music Album Awards for 2011. There are many great releases this year, and I will publish my recommendation for Best New Age Albums on New Year’s Day 2012.
Cover arts are courtesy of each individual artist. Photo copyright Big Stock Photo by Subbotina Anna & ppart.
NewAgeMusicWorld.com is honored to be a helpful source of information to visitors searching for top new age albums, songs, videos and the very best music available today. Along with my role as review publicist, I regularly feature many of today’s top artists by an interview publication. Writing interview and review editorials for my website visitors are just part of what I do while offering free support to the many independent and label musicians I represent worldwide.
I have 19 interview publications at New Age Music World presently, plus I have several interviews scheduled with artists almost everyone will recognize. I will keep these esteemed new age musicians a secret for now, but I do want to tell you about my most recent interview. While my name is far from a familiar name, the site host for The Music Explorer, Alvaro Villa André from Spain requested an interview with me. During my interview I answer his questions related to the great musicians I feature at New Age Music World.
The interview with John Olsen if anything gives insight about my responsibilities as a site host and the artists I represent. I am not here to promote myself so I basically give my viewpoint as an artist representative and music site host. Rather than publish this interview at my website, visit The Music Explorer to find out more about my responsibilities if you would like.
Visit the-music-explorer.com homepage and read Alvaro Villa André’s – Interview with John P. Olsen, plus you can read his New Age Music World pages. Then read my musician interviews with today’s best artists. Two future editorials I have are a “Best Christmas Albums” and “Best New Age Music Albums in 2011” articles, so visit New Age Music World again soon.
Jim Brickman’s holiday tour dates for 2011 has been released, and is currently posted at his website in entirety. Along with the 2011 holiday tour dates, there is a partial to be announced concert schedule in 2012 included on his tour page too. The holiday tour, billed as “A Christmas Celebration” which begins November 26, 2011 thru December 31, 2011, includes special guest vocalist Anne Cochran and Ben Utecht, with violinist Tracy Silverman.
Jim Brickman is a multi-platinum pianist and recording artist entertaining crowds for years with his award winning collection of popular piano music which can range from solo piano, popular, mainstream music, adult contemporary, and of course there is a wonderful selection of Christmas albums to choose from.
With 6 of his releases achieving gold and platinum, Jim Brickman has also been recognized as the greatest male performer in the adult contemporary genre category. His 18 hymns of inspiration release entitled Faith was nominated for a GRAMMY® Award in the Best New Age Album category in 2010. Some of my favorite songs on Faith are Amazing Grace, Morning Has Broken, Faith (title song) & Jesu, Joy Of Man’s Desiring.
Jim Brickman’s “A Christmas Celebration” holiday tour begins November 26, 2011 in St. Louis Missouri at the Touhill Performing Arts Center, and runs through December 31, 2011 in Rockford Illinois at the Coronado Performing Arts Center. There is even a concert venue near where I live in Springfield Missouri scheduled for November 27, 2011 at the Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts. Again I would like to point out the dates shown above are beginning and ending concert dates only.
Writing a Jim Brickman concert review about his Springfield Missouri performance is a pretty good possibility. Based purely on his skill level and talents as a pianist, it only stands to reason why many people like me already consider Jim Brickman one of the greatest piano artists in modern times. I hope to see you there! Sponsors for his Holiday Concert Tour in 2011 are American Greetings and John Q. Hammons Hotels & Resorts.
José Luis Serrano Esteban is a composer from Spain releasing A New Horizon, (Un Nuevo Horizonte) an adventurous blend of classical and electronic rock music. Like much of Esteban’s instrumental guitar music I sampled, his electronic and acoustic guitar songs are relaxing melodies that introduce a picturesque representation across a scenic new horizon.
A New Horizon features 14 songs in a classical merge of electronic rock music in a representation like epic band Tangerine Dream, in his changing scores of over 100 popular music themes. Esteban has studied classical guitar and electronic music over the years before producing his first album Dreamland in 2002. Composer Esteban is the second Spanish musician who has signed with Landscape TV, an audio visual media station in the UK called Landscape HD productions.
José Luis Serrano Esteban’s first new age video will be released near the end of 2011. Along with his own recordings, Esteban is a guitar player and synthesizer programmer in other artist’s CDs and visual music productions too, having produced numerous scores for commercials, demo tapes, and music scores for television documentaries.
On A New Horizon, some pieces were performed with the help of the fine artists Nacho Serrano (Bass and 12 string acoustic guitar), Nuria Felix (Violin), Santiago Puente (Clarinet), Gloria Esteban (Flute) and Covadonga Serrano (Piano). The song video of Further Than The Milky Way shows images from the European Space Agency/Hubble Space Telescope.
Visit his jlse.serarte.es website to sample or purchase or at amazon.co.uk and other digital stores. Find more on my page for José Luis Serrano Esteban. Visit Landscape HD at landscapehd.com. Photo is courtesy jlse.serarte.es.