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A Holiday Festival of Music & Light

Artist: Maria Newman, Scott Hosfeld, Malibu Coast Chamber Orchestra Chorale & Children's Choir

Release: 2010

Label: Montgomery Arts House Press

Purchase: Amazon Music, Apple Music


Listen: Spotify, Amazon Music, Youtube

Maria Newman's A Holiday Festival of Music and Light: Myth, Mystery, & Mysticism is a selection of Newman's  Christmas, Winter holiday, and spiritually-minded works. The collection includes Ms. Newman's cycles of original Christmas Carols, A Little Book of Southern Carols, and Montgomery Carols, among many other celebratory selections. 

The album opens with Newman's A Little Book of Southern Carols, a selection of Christmas carols set to the words of Mississippi Poet Laureate Louise Moss Montgomery. The great grandmother of the composer, Moss Montgomery's words tell the story of the simple joys of the holiday season, from the elation of a child surrounded by toys on Christmas morning to the bliss of a parent reveling in simple gratitude of having a child to fill the home with mess and merriment. Alongside these everyday wonders, A Little Book of Southern Carols offers works surrounding the story of the nativity, the journey of the Wise Men to Bethlehem, and the delight of the Advent season. The recording on this album features the work of Duanna Ulyate, soprano, Maria Newman, violin, and the Malibu Coast Chamber Orchestra Chorale & Children's Choir.

Newman's Christus Natus Est, translated from the Latin to "Christ Is Born," celebrates the birth of Christ through a serenade by the Malibu Coast Chamber Orchestra Viola Choir. The piece is then followed by Extol I and Extol II, both meaning "Praise." These works are masterfully performed on this album by the Malibu Coast Chamber Orchestra, under the baton of Maestro Scott Hosfeld, and tenor George Sterne, of the Los Angeles Opera and Los Angeles Master Chorale. Finally, the sequence is completed by Pastorale, as performed by the Malibu Coast Chamber Orchestra Brass, under the baton of Maestro Scott Hosfeld. 

Rounding out the album is Newman's second cycle of original holiday carols, Montgomery Carols. Written in 2001 as a gift for Newman's beloved mother, former Goldwyn Girl Martha Montgomery, the cycle began with a set of three carols: Ring Your Bells, Baby Lord of Majesty, and Little Savior of Healing Light. The first of the three pieces, Ring Your Bells, was written knowing the absolute devotion Montgomery felt towards Newman's then-three children, Martha, Isabella, and Samuel, whose names the composer incorporated into this exciting and vibrant carol about announcing the birth of Christ. Following the birth of her fourth child, Noah, Ms. Newman revisited the lyrics to Ring Your Bells, incorporating the name of her newest child into the existing piece. The latter two carols speak to Montgomery's devoted spirituality, both praising and rejoicing in the birth of Christ and his coming life. After the death of Martha Montgomery in 2005 and the birth of Newman's fifth and final child, Joaquin, in 2008, the composer once again returned to Montgomery Carols, adding two more pieces to the cycle - Joaquin's Carol, a vocal trio of close and intricate harmony, and O Mother Full of Love and Grace. 

The Montgomery Carols are unique in that Ms. Newman composed both music and text, rather than setting already existing text to music. 

These two distinct sections of the Montgomery Carols are separated on this album and distinguished as Montgomery Carols, Set I and Montgomery Carols, Set II. The works in Montgomery Carols, Set I on this recording are performed by Duana Ulyate, soprano, Elin Carlson, soprano, George Sterne, tenor, and Gregory Geiger, bass, in collaboration with the Malibu Coast Chamber Orchestra. The works in Montgomery Carols, Set II on this recording are performed by Kris Wildman, soprano, Duana Ulyate, soprano, Amy Engelhardt, mezzo soprano, and George Sterne, tenor, in collaboration with the Malibu Coast Chamber Orchestra.

Not featured on this album is the newest addition to Montgomery Carols: Newman's Winter Carol - Noah's Carol for two sopranos. 

Also featured on this album is Selections of the Season, a collection of small ensemble, chamber orchestra, and chorale works by Maria Newman. This work includes Tannenbaum Trot, Sanctus Et Benedictus, Gloria Patri, Dreidel Dance, and Dolls and Drums, a rendition of the Little Book of Southern Carols piece When Chirstmas Comes, as such by Newman's then-8-year-old daughter Isabella Thatcher.

Works On This Album

A Little Book of Southern Carols

I. Advent

II. Processional - Hallelujah

III. To Find A Star

IV. When Christmas Comes

V. A Child Is Here

VI. Tercets

VII. Recessional

Christus Natus Est

Extol I

Extol II

Pastorale

Montgomery Carols, Set I

I. Ring Your Bells!

II. Little Saviour of Healing Light

III. Baby Lord of Majesty

Selections of the Season

I. Tannenbaum Trot

II. Sanctus Et Benedictus

III. Gloria Patri

IV. Dreidel Dance

V. Dolls and Drums

Montgomery Carols, Set II

I. Joaquin's Carol

II. O Mother Full of Love and Grace