Simplicity is all too often confused with uninteresting or dull.  Yet Buddhist wisdom teaches us that greater happiness comes with simplicity than complexity.  While the Eastern religion may not be exactly aligned with Judeo-Christianity, this wisdom is well executed on the latest Sono Luminus recording, “Holiday Harmonies: Songs of Christmas.”

With contributions from prolific composers, arrangers, and artists, Judith Clurman’s Essential Voices USA shines on this recording of eight Christmas songs that are perfect for pensive reflection and spiritual renewal.

Mezzo Soprano Jamie Barton lends a maternally peaceful sound to Max Reger’s arrangement of “The Virgin’s Slumber Song.” Barton will be featured in the upcoming production of Anna Bolena at the Metropolitan Opera. “I’m thrilled to be part of this holiday album. It’s a magical mix of traditional heart-warming Christmas songs and some interesting new composers-like your favorite hot cider with some tasty new spices,” she said.

The new “spices” she’s referencing include Nico Muhly’s “Whispered and Revealed”, Grammy winner Jennifer Higdon’s “Love Came Down”, and a rich and rapturous number entitled “Merry Christmas Wishing Well” by Gene Gilroy.

Other annual favorites include “Angels We Have Heard on High”, by Broadway arranger David Chase, “O Holy Night”, and a perfectly pure arrangement of “Silent Night”, which Clurman arranged with jazz pianist Tedd Firth.

Clurman demands a great deal from her choir, but the finished product is evidence of her care and desire for perfection. This is one recording to be proud of and she is quick to offer her enthusiasm. “I love every note on this CD-new and old-and the work of every performer with whom I’ve collaborated”, she exclaimed.

Photo courtesy of Frank Wang
Photo courtesy of Frank Wang

Christmas is only a few days away but it’s safe to assume that you’ll want to repeat the sounding joy of this recording for years to come.  In addition, Clurman’s idea to package the disc as a Christmas card is both clever and convenient for sending to family and friends.

“Holiday Harmonies: Songs of Christmas” is available for download on itunes or by clicking HERE.