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Moya Brennan InterviewPublicist and blog host John P. Olsen had an opportunity to interview famed singer, harpist and instrumental recording artist from Ireland, Moya Brennan.

During this interview taking place during the summer of 2013, a variety of in-depth topics are covered. Included is a conversation about her new vocal and instrumental album with professional harpist Cormac De Barra titled Affinity. Moya Brennan also details aspects of her life and solo career, and of the Celtic music group Clannad.

Recognized as the First Lady of Celtic Music, and The Voice of Clannad, today I am pleased to present an informative interview conversation with the famed Irish musician, Moya Brennan.

John P. Olsen: Thank you for accepting my interview invitation Moya! Interest in your music has grown tremendously over the years, and you have a wonderful story to share. Like your fans, I am a longtime admirer of the music you have produced too, so it’s a privilege to host your newest interview for fans and visitors in 2013, here at New Age Music World.

Shall we begin our conversation with the topic of your brand new album with Cormac de Barra titled Affinity. Your newest album is now available at your Voices & Harps website, and currently available at major music stores like Amazon and iTunes. I have been listening to Affinity non-stop, and consider it to be one of your best albums yet. It makes me curious to know if others share the same view as I. What is the feedback you have received so far on your newest album, and is the response what you expected?

Moya Brennan: John, thank you for your kind words about Affinity and I’m so glad you are enjoying it. You’ll be pleased to hear that you are not alone in reacting to Affinity in such a way. Feedback has been really positive (and sometimes verging on the superlative!) To say that this is what we hoped for would be spot on but what we expected? I’m not sure.

Of course we are supremely proud of the album but I have been working for long enough to know that you can emerge from the bubble of the studio thinking you have redefined the musical universe, only to discover that the rest of the world doesn’t necessarily share your feelings. All I know is that the musical partnership I have developed with Cormac is far greater than the sum of the parts and that our song choices, arrangements and performances are of the best we both have to offer.

Voices & HarpsJohn: Affinity is the follow-up album of your earlier release with harpist Cormac De Barra titled; Voices & Harps. Another fine release I might add. What would you say are the distinctions in theme and melody in comparison to your newest release?

Moya Brennan: To give you some background, Voices & Harps was recorded on an inspired whim! That’s not to say we didn’t put our hearts into it. More that it was something we’d been talking about doing for several years and a little three-week window opened up early 2011, which we jumped through and emerged with our first V&H album. We sat back and listened to it in the cold light of day and were thrilled to have achieved so much in such a short space of time.

As with Affinity, I think we surprised a few people – and ourselves. Cormac has been quite a significant force for me rediscovering the beauty and purity of my traditional roots. In my solo work I have explored quite a lot of contemporary forms along with musical influences from around the world – for instance Eastern Europe and Africa. Cormac’s repertoire and knowledge of the Irish tradition is incredible so this was always our starting point.

The theme of Voices & Harps was as simple as the title. I arrived with my voice (and harp) while Cormac arrived with his harp (and voice). Sounds funny but we both came to each other with the same skills, albeit with different emphasis respectively. We chose some songs and tunes that we both had been performing already, some which we had always wanted to record and we wrote others which encompassed my approach to atmospheric vocal layers with a harp foundation.

When we came to record (what turned out to be titled Affinity) the approach was similar but with attitude made bolder by our happiness and reaction to our first album. We were actually going to call it Voices & Harps II but realized that the title, Affinity, once again, summed up our performing relationship and the blending of our musical skills.

John: What is the creative drive behind your newest album composition Affinity?

Moya & CormacMoya Brennan: Echoing what I said previously, our creative inspiration is a bringing together of what we do well! Maybe, more than anything though we let ourselves go a bit more than before. Sure, there are absolutely beautiful songs which we both of learned from our grandparents – Ardaigh Cuan from my grandmother and Seoithin Seo from Cormac’s – but we felt we had the confidence to write new songs as well.

While we both grew up surrounded by traditional music we have also been open to a wide range of musical influences. So there is the dreamy, trancy ambience of song Suas Sios, and a contemporary slant to Worlds Collide and I Feel You Breathe.

I should also mention The Lass of Aughrim, from Affinity. I was invited to perform at a Galway alumni dinner in New York last year. The Galway Association were to honor Angelica Houston as part of the ceremonials. I had always been moved by her part in the John Houston movie, The Dead, based on a James Joyce short story.

This song appears at one of the most poignant moments in the film and I heard that she loved the song. It brought her to tears at the dinner and afterwards she said that we must record it. So we did and have her to thank for encouraging us.

John: The chart topping hit song Sailing by Christopher Cross is a lead single on Afffinity. I read in a press release the cover song Sailing holds special meaning to you on a personal level. What is the personal significance of the song Sailing?

Moya Brennan: Hey, I think what I said is that it was part of the soundtrack of my youth. So in the respect that it will forever bring me back to that stage in my life I’m not saying it has any emotional or cosmic significance! It’s a beautiful song and an unusual song. Cormac and I had been toying with the idea of doing a cover song and we were nearing the end of the process of choosing our final selection.

I was driving back from a concert in Cork and just as I pulled into the house in Dublin Sailing came on the radio. I had my daughter, Aisling (my band guitarist and album studio engineer), in the car and we sat and heard it out. I wondered how it would translate to harp and vocals but when Cormac came in the next morning he played around with the intro on the harp (some devilish key changes) and eventually broke through to provide the song with familiar, but new, bedrock.

Lyrically, it’s a song of hope and dreams – subjects that I love to visit in songs anyway. As you can imagine, our cover of this song has surprised a lot of people but nobody has said that it feels out of place among the others.

Clannad ConcertJohn: Harpist and television host Cormac De Barra is also a member of your band and the group Clannad. In addition to the numerous albums you and Cormac have produced together you each have achieved successful solo careers. How did you and Cormac meet and form a professional team Voices & Harps?

Moya Brennan: In 2004 I recorded my Two Horizons album. This, more than any other recording I have made, was a concept album. Starting with the Thomas Moore song, The Harp that Once Through Tara’s Hill, I developed a story line bringing a mythical harp through the ages, through slavery in Africa and emigration to the wilds of an American desert populated by native women played the harp in their traditional ceremonials.

My (then) musical director Fionan De Barra, introduced me to his brother, Cormac, whose harp playing instantly provided a fullness to my stage setup. We have worked together ever since and discovered an interesting fact that less is more. It is such a resonant and powerful instrument that often, very little else is needed.

John: During the course of your music career you have toured extensively in many parts of the world. Would it be fair to say you simply adore the personal interaction with an audience while performing live shows?

Moya Brennan: I absolutely love it. My father spent his life on stage – firstly in a traveling show band and then as host in his own music pub in County Donegal – and I’m convinced that I take after him. I love the way that you can engage an audience and draw them into your world – even if they are unfamiliar with your work. I love bringing people to another place in shows (even for ninety minutes) and hearing how afterwards how they were able to shake off their stress and troubles for that short period as they became absorbed in what was coming from the stage.

Voices & Harps ConcertJohn: Even today you perform live concerts, and recently gave a Voices & Harps Workshop last month. Could you tell everyone about your live performances and provide details about the workshops?

Moya Brennan: Cormac and I do the workshop every June and have just completed our third year running. This year was a sell out! We keep to limited numbers in order to give everyone direct and personal attention. I work through a choice of songs with some and Cormac works on harp tunes with others. At the end of the weekend the two meet in a thrilling showcase. I say thrilling deliberately because I see people who have walked in on the Friday with virtually no experience singing and playing on stage for the first time and literally going through a life changing experience.

John: What song selections can a concert attendee expect to hear during a live concert with Moya Brennan?

Moya Brennan: I think I gave a taste of that in an earlier question. I like to create an atmosphere which frees the mind and spirit of an audience. But in a more practical sense Cormac and I obviously play much of our Voices & Harps repertoire, I have a number of solo favorites and, of course, I do visit some of the Clannad classics from time to time. There’s a bit of everything – from quiet atmosphere to rousing Irish trad sets.

John: Music has been a part of your life from the beginning, with many notable achievements along the way. What would you say was the turning point where you knew you were a career musician with a professional career ahead of you?

Moya Brennan: You’re right, it started early! I used to go off to Scotland with my father’s band at the age of seven to perform on St. Patrick’s Day. There were two significant moments in our (Clannad’s) career which convinced us that we had this calling. In 1970 we came first in the prestigious Letterkenny Folk Festival. The prize was to record an album which turned out to be Clannad 1.

IrelandOur music was almost exclusively in the Irish language and, strange as it may seem now, nobody in Ireland wanted to listen to songs in their native language. So we’d go off to Germany in a battered van and drive up and down the autobahns playing to audiences who couldn’t get enough of it! Yes, bizarre!

In 1978, during a German tour, we received a standing ovation in the classic Bremen Town Hall. As we glowed in the dressing room after the show we suddenly realized we could do this as a career and returned to Ireland as a professional band.

John: There are a number of original songs on Affinity sung in Gaelic, which is the native Irish language. It is in part a reason for the surge in popularity taking place during your solo career, and of the group Clannad, in which you are a founding member. What is it about the Gaelic dialect, blended with melodic themes that have generated so much interest?

Moya Brennan: As I said above, there was a time when we were actively discouraged from singing Gaeilge songs. Ireland of the seventies was only forward looking and chose not to think about its traditional culture. Thankfully, things changed slowly and we are so pleased we stuck to our principles and language. Irish is a very different to other European languages.

It allows us to reflect images of our natural surroundings in a true way. Many of our songs celebrate the sea, mountains and ruggedness of our native Donegal. I’m so proud of my language and it combines beautifully with my music.

John: Clannad’s influence on the merging of traditional Celtic and pop music, including Celtic Fusion in the 1980s and 1990s cannot be overstated. I read at the Clannad.ie website that a new follow-up album to Clannad at Christ Church Cathedral CD & DVD is scheduled for release in September of 2013. Can you provide any news or information regarding the new Clannad album for 2013?

Moya Brennan: I do believe we were pioneers in bringing Celtic music to a wider audience with contemporary influences and instrumentation. Although it didn’t make us popular with the trad community at the time, it’s interesting to see how the form has been followed, imitated and developed into a distinct musical genre. We have just finished recording a new Clannad album – the first studio album since 1997. It will be released in September this year and the title is under wraps for now.

Moya Brennan HarpistJohn: You have enjoyed a stellar music career with many successes, awards and recognition along the way Moya. What do you find most rewarding intrinsically as a professional concert and studio musician?

Moya Brennan: It has to be winning the Letterkenny Folk Festival in 1970. I know there have been many other incredible moments but this probably changed my life more than any other.

John: Would you like to tell us about your charitable endeavors and work as a goodwill ambassador, and why is philanthropy important to you on a personal level?

Moya Brennan: I hope that what I do comes from my heart and in that applies equally to my music and my charity work. Like anyone else, I am seriously humbled by those who dedicate their entire lives to helping the disadvantaged and downtrodden. I do get asked to be involved in far more than I am able to take on so one thing I have chosen is to broaden awareness of the disability charity, CBM.

Although they originally set out to work with blindness they have come to realize that lack of sight is just one of a number of common disabilities in the developing world which leaves its sufferers as marginalized and hidden in their communities. As a Goodwill Ambassador I have traveled in Africa and South America to see CBM’s amazing work and bring back my experiences to remind people how fortunate they are and how much needs to be done to provide decency and respect for the disabled.

John: I know for a fact that artists at various stages of their music careers will read our interview Moya. One question I always like to ask a highly successful artist like yourself is; would be willing to offer any helpful suggestions about the music business, or offer some words of advice to artists just beginning their music careers?

Moya Brennan: The music business has changed so much since I started. There was once a time when we could survive quite well just on record sales. Those days have gone and it has become far more important to get on stage and engage your audience in a live setting.

Moya Brennan - ClannadBut the universal truths still remain: Believe in what you’re doing, don’t be discouraged by rejection, remain true to your art, practice your instrument (or voice), share ideas with others you trust and learn how to express them to a wider audience.

John: As a publicist I like to report on current music news information when I can, so I would like to ask if you have any press information you would care to pass along about additional album projects or upcoming special events you plan to make public soon?

Moya Brennan: I am currently planning a Christmas tour in the USA in December. Final details have yet to be settled but will appear on my website in due course. I recorded a Christmas album a few years ago and, amazingly, it hasn’t dated over the years. I normally tour it in Europe so this will be the first time American audiences will experience An Irish Christmas.

John: I look forward to providing more information when available Moya, and must say you have experienced a fascinating life and career. It has been a privilege to host your newest interview in 2013 and I wish you continued success in the years ahead. I hope we have a chance to visit again to update everyone on the current news about you. In closing for now, is there anything you would like to express to our readers, and fans that have supported you throughout your career?

Moya Brennan: Nothing but immense thanks and appreciation for letting me do what I enjoy and share it with fans. Their loyalty, friendship and encouragement are what keep me going.

Moya Brennan and Cormac De Barra’s new album Affinity is currently available in physical CD format and Mp3 format, or single song downloads at VoicesAndHarps.com. You may sample and purchase the 12 songs on Affinity at Amazon.com and find the album or single song downloads for Affinity at iTunes.

Find albums and concert info at MoyaBrennan.com. Interview photos courtesy moyabrennan.com & voicesandharps.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.

Visit billleslie.com to sample or purchase A Midnight Clear by Bill Leslie, or find at Amazon.com.

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 another respected new age artist. Together with beautiful vocals by Cadence and the other artist’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 two great artists 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 a Best New Age Album Award in 2009 at another blog. 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.

Visit CadenceSongs.com to sample and purchase or find Holiday High at Amazon.com.

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.

Visit celticwoman.com to sample or purchase A Christmas Celebration by Celtic Woman, or find at Amazon.com.

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.

Visit enya.com to sample or purchase And Winter Came by Enya, or find at Amazon.com.

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.

Visit fionajoyhawkins.com.au to sample or purchase Christmas Joy by Fiona Joy Hawkins, or find at Amazon.com.

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.

Visit lisadowning.com to sample or purchase Christmas for Two by Lisa Downing, or find at Amazon.com.

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.

Visit louismusic.com to sample or purchase Keys of Christmas by Louis Colaiannia, or his page at Amazon.com.

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.

Visit mannheimsteamroller.com for Christmas Symphony by Mannheim Steamroller, or find at Amazon.com.

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.

Visit mannheimsteamroller.com for the Christmas 25th Anniversary Collection by Mannheim Steamroller, or at Amazon.com.

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.

Another new age artist performs angelic vocals on this album, so together their individual albums Holiday High & Christmas From Mars each are distinctive in their own way by their special creative touch and technical aptitude that sets their albums apart from many others in the new age Christmas album category. Both artists have earned a respected position in the music world by their individual albums and additional albums they have produced together. Mars Lasar’s most current is a solo piano album with 18 songs entitled Piano Moods From Mars.

Visit MarsLasar.com to sample and purchase or find Christmas from Mars at Amazon.com.

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.

Visit trans-siberian.com to sample or purchase Christmas Eve and Other Stories by Trans-Siberian Orchestra, or find at Amazon.com.

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.

Visit legacyrecordings.com to sample or purchase A Windham Hill Christmas by Various Artists, or find at Amazon.com.

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.

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7and5 2002 Acoustic Ocean Adiemus Al Conti Alexander Zhiroff Alphaville Anewday Ann Licater Ann Sweeten AOMusic Arturo Mayorga Arun Shenoy Asher Quinn Atticus Ross Audiomachine Australis Balligomingo Benedikt Brydern Ben Woolman Bill Leslie Bill Wren Billy Sherwood Blackmore's Night Bob Ardern Bradley Joseph Bruce Kaphan Bruce Mitchell Bryan El Cadence Spalding Candice Night Celtic Woman Chad Lawson Charlee Brooks Charlie Adams Christophe Lebled Christopher Boscole Chuck Wild Ciro Hurtado Clannad Clifford White Coburn Tuller Colin O'Donohoe Cormac De Barra Craig Karolus Craig Urquhart Daft Punk Dana Teboe Daniel Alcheh Darlene Koldenhoven David Arkenstone David Clavijo David Gordon David Hoffman David Lanz David Mauk David Nevue David Wahler Davol Denise Young Dennis Banks Devin Rice Diane Arkenstone Enigma Enya Eric Chapelle Eric Tingstad Erin Aas Evan Wish FED Fiona Joy Hawkins Fionnuala Sherry Fred Thrane Gabriel Vivas Gandalf Gunnar Madsen Hans Zimmer Hennie Bekker Howard Shore Isaac Shepard James Hood James Mattos Jan Hammer Jason Carder Jeff Oster Jeffrey Fisher Jeff Woodall Jim Brickman Joey Curtin Johannes Linstead John Adorney John Williams Jon Anderson Jonas Kroon Jose Luis Serrano Esteban Josh Groban Julian Ray Karl Jenkins Kathryn Kaye Keith Driskill Kelly Andrew Ken Elkinson Kevin Bluemel Kika Kane Kitaro Kori Linae Carothers Laura Sullivan Lauren Jelencovich Lawrence Blatt Libera Liquid Mind Lisa Downing Lisa Hilton Lisa Lavie Lizary Rodriguez Rios Louis Colaiannia Luna Blanca Mannheim Steamroller Marc Enfroy Marie Therese McCartin Mark Barnes Mars Lasar Mary Simpson Masako Matthew Labarge Matthew Schoening Matt Millecchia Medwyn Goodall Michael Brant DeMaria Michael Cretu Michael Stribling Mickey Hart Band Mike Oldfield Ming Freeman Moya Brennan Nicholas Gunn Nick Farr Omar Akram Pangean Orchestra Paul Avgerinos Paul Jensen Paul Sills Peter Jennison Peter Kater Peter Sterling Placido Domingo Psicodreamics Randy Edelman Ravi Shankar Riad Abdel Gawad Rick Wakeman Rolf Lovland Royce Campbell Samvel Yervinyan Sarah Brightman Sarah O’Brien Seay Secret Garden Shambhu Spencer Stanley Steve Bowe Steve Gordon Steve Hackett Steven C Steven Halpern Steve Orchard Sue Brescia Susan Boyle Suzanne Doucet Tangerine Dream Tasmin Archer Terri Liles Mason The 9 Muses Timothy Crane Todd Boston Tomas Michaud Trans Siberian Orchestra Trent Reznor Trevor Jones Tribali Tron Syversen Uwe Gronau Vangelis Vicki Logan Victor Espinola We Are Nexus Will Ackerman World Music Yanni Yes Yoel Del Sol Yo Yo Ma
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James Hood Interview
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Moya Brennan Interview
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Diane Arkenstone Interview
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Chuck Wild of Liquid Mind
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Peter Kater Interview 2013
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