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Posts Tagged ‘Lisa Downing’

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.

The Christmas season has officially arrived and what a special time of year !  While I believe most site visitors realize the true meaning of Christmas and the real reason we celebrate this special day in the highest regard, our time honored tradition of gift giving continues which naturally raises the question of what makes a suitable gift for our friends or loved ones.

Lisa Downing from Littleton Colorado is a musician with a promising answer on what makes not only a suitable gift, but a personalized one most people would enjoy receiving and a gift most likely to renew their true reason for the season Christmas spirit like her CD album did for me.  Actually, when you take into consideration every aspect of purchasing the relatively inexpensive and long lasting gift of music for nearly every gift occasion, this easy to make decision translates into a logical choice.

Lisa Downing has a Solo Piano album titled Christmas for Two that may be of interest to you and while there are many exceptional Christmas albums in the New Age genre along with every musical taste, Lisa Downing has a special gift herself as a top solo pianist in every sense of the word and this is precisely articulated on her Holiday music release.  Plus, knowing Lisa was a youth pastor at her church in Littleton earlier in life and performed in the Christian, Folk, Pop-Rock band named Wings of Faith, you know that Lisa’s heart is in the right place.

Her lifelong commitment as a professional musician are praiseworthy too since Lisa Downing earned a university degree in music, attending both the University of Colorado at Denver and Metropolitan State College, receiving a joint specialized BA degree in Traditional and Non-Traditional Music with keyboard emphasis.  Lisa is also an esteemed concert pianist having toured or performed with other renowned artists like David Lanz, Suzanne Ciani, Liz Story, and Peter Kater.

Christmas for Two on her Vision Quest Entertainment label is a Solo Piano Christmas album cordially personifying Lisa Downing’s expressive talents in several ways, plus the 12 holiday tracks are perfect in the sense they reveal traditional holiday music in her skillful expressive touch like you would hear while attending one of her highly personalized concerts.

While Christmas for Two is considered New Age / Neo Classical, I trust any label is of less regard here since every piece chosen for the album will be identifiable and appreciated by everyone like The First Noel / Joy to the World.

You will notice her Holiday release is composed with a delicate balance by the companion format where two songs are united into one like heard on All through the Night / Away in a Manger so there are actually 22 titles in all with the single song exceptions of Silent Night, Canon in D Christmas Medley, and Angels We Have Heard On High.

The traditional holiday pieces What Child Is This / We Three Kings and then O Holy Night / It Came Upon a Midnight Clear were my 2 favorites, plus I found the richness in depth and quality intonation regarding her performance on a Yamaha C7 Acoustic Piano was proficient in entirety like I had expected.

Every song on Christmas for Two is delivered with precision and Lisa’s personal creativity shines by the unique manner in which the songs were impeccably composed into one, with treble and bass notes reaching many proficient runs and chords in all ranges along the piano keyboard.

Christmas for Two varies from soft and contemplative at moments to spirited phrasing with majestic crescendos like her amazing version of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen / Carol of the Bells which give new meaning to the term Holiday music.

Now that you know I believe simply listening to Holiday music will help renew the Christmas spirit for anyone like it did for me, and where to search for Christmas Piano Solo music that brilliantly succeeds in establishing the seasonal tone, I hope to have been of some assistance today.  I trust everyone will have an especially joyful Christmas this year while recognizing the greatest gift of all and true reason we celebrate the season.

Visit lisadowning.com to sample / purchase.  You can also visit her CDBaby.com page or Amazon.com page and read my review of A Delicate Balance on our pages dedicated to Lisa Downing.  Lisa and her husband Pete Foster own a combined talent agency and record label representing over 1200 Colorado musicians so find out more at visionquestmusic.com.

Album art courtesy NW Media.  Photo courtesy Russell Smoak – The Inner Image.

When searching by computer for talented artists in your favorite genre, a couple of simple search terms might quickly get you good results. If not, you can try searching the many recording labels to help you find talented artists, or at least point you in the right direction.

Lisa Downing is one name to search for, and Vision Quest Entertainment is another search term you can try. With either result, Lisa Downing’s name will appear since this business was originally her own record label and now a combined talent agency doing business as Vision Quest Entertainment, representing over 1200 musicians in Colorado.

Now that we know Lisa Downing as a businesswoman, let me tell you about her busy career as composer, recording artists, and concert pianist. Lisa performs in many concert venues including corporate and private events, along with conducting workshops and concerts with Liz Story and Joseph Akins, among many additional reputable artists.

Teaching piano along with her academic studies, Lisa attended the University of Colorado at Denver and Metropolitan State College to study music and piano performance. Graduating with a degree in Traditional and Nontraditional Music with Keyboard Emphasis in 1982, her educational pursuits appear to be nicely balanced too.

A Delicate Balance is her 2010 Solo Piano, New Age, Neo Classical release, in an album title that is pretty well equal to her business and creative endeavors as a Solo Pianist. What’s interesting about the inside cover of this CD is the special written diary about the thoughts behind each song’s composition which uniquely portrays Lisa’s intimate expressions during some rather personal moments in her life. I did enjoy reading her diary of songs while listening and preparing for this review of A Delicate Balance since it meticulously brought her personal recounting for each composition into the picture, giving her piano melodies a conclusively heartfelt and well spoken reflection.

Without giving away all of the diary secrets, many songs like The Gift, reflect a wonderful positive expression by the classical phrasing leading to the uplifting feel given by full register piano runs. This song aligned in a moderate tempo made me think of the intrinsic treasures a gift giver feels and the unexpected joyful surprises a recipient receives.

The song Lost nicely portrays the first quiet moments in piano composition before well placed notes makes one realize that someone dear has lost their way, leading to deeper moments of pause and curiosity by her intonation. After bolder dynamic chords suggest a winding road of lost hope, an upbeat conclusive ending happily points to a more familiar direction, ending with a more moderate calming tone of security. Indecision is a faster moving piece where treble runs are shown like racing thoughts of indecisiveness, and lower register chords lean towards equal balance in an affirmative way, reflecting the decisive moments in life that are pretty much universal to everyone.

No Matter What I Do involves a special dedication and meaning to Lisa and does reflect this by quieter phrases giving way to pause, leading to a wider path, where positive chords suggest a new resolve in this scenario, ending in a more relaxed contemplation. Lisa’s prior albums Think On These Things is much like her current personal melodies with well timed moments of reflection, and her Holiday CD Christmas for Two are traditional holiday arrangements you will easily recognize and are easy to find CDs.

A Delicate Balance is a fine Solo Piano album with the personal Lisa Downing expressive touch. Reading her song diary while listening to her latest musical gift about finding many delicate lines during the search for perfect balance is sure to please everyone, provided they take the time to search and then find this talented artist for themselves.

Visit this Vision Quest Entertainment artist at LisaDowning.com to sample / purchase or visit her CDBaby.com page here.

Picture copyright Big Stock Photo – og-vision.

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