Extra Notes on “The Spirit of Christmas” (Christmas 2008)

The Spirit of Christmas CD Cover

The Spirit of Christmas CD Cover

The Spirit of Christmas

Happy New Year and Belated Christmas Greetings!

I have posted mp3 versions of this year’s project online. Please use the link provided above. Below, I have written more extended notes that I have not yet included anywhere else.

I sincerely hope that you enjoy the music.

Regards,

Stan Owen, Jr. & Creative Minds’ Music

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Nutcracker

When I began to arrange pieces from the Nutcracker Suite for synthesizer in 2003, I mistakenly believed that I would be able to complete synthesizer orchestrations of all seven (7) major pieces as part of the initial 2003 Christmas project. After I completed the orchestration and recording of the first, and realized how much effort had been involved in the arrangement and performance of the “Overture,” I realized that I would need to change my plans for 2003. So, for 2003, I “finished” the Nutcracker Christmas CD project by performing Nicholas Economou’s well-known two-piano arrangements of the Suite. That decision left me with six (6) Nutcracker synthesizer orchestrations and one (1) two-piano performance relegated to subsequent (Christmas) projects.

I resumed Nutcracker recording last year, for the 2007 “The Christmas Rose is Blooming” project. For it I used a new computer-based virtual orchestra tool, “Synful Orchestra” (slightly embarrassing name) that has become integral to all orchestral simulations that I have created since then. This year, I orchestrated two more Nutcracker pieces: “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” and “March’ using my (no-longer) secret tool, “Synful Orchestra.” And, to complete the 2003 series of two-piano arrangements, I performed and recorded the piano version of the Overture that I had previously orchestrated.

Willy Evergreen

I have known the song “Willy Evergreen” since my childhood. Its composer, John Von Spreckelsen was one of my significant musical mentors. John taught me that when improvising “there is no such thing as a mistake” and “you’re never ‘through with’ the Hanon piano exercises.” “Willy Evergreen” was so cherished in my family that my Mother arranged the song using three-part harmony for my sisters: Cathy and Susan, and me to sing as part of our family singing group’s Christmas programs. Some years ago John gave his permission to include my arrangement as part of a future Christmas project. This year I have been unable to reach John and am very concerned. I hope this song becomes as meaningful to you as it has been to me.

Some Children See Him

Since the first time that I heard this arrangement on the 200x James Taylor Christmas CD, I knew that I wished to transcribe Dave Grusin’s beautiful arrangement of this Hutson-Burt song. Working with music manuscript paper, pencil, and lots of erasers, I transcribed the piano and string parts mostly note-for-note from the James Taylor CD. When Roberta and I began our recording, we decided on a more appropriate key for her voice and recorded the piano and vocal as a duet. Each of us had headphones and were in separate rooms with doors closed. I added the string parts in the days after vocal recording. I hope that you find this piece as special as I do.

2 comments to Extra Notes on “The Spirit of Christmas” (Christmas 2008)

  • Allen Dean

    I have been attempting to find a piano arrangement similar to James Taylor’s “Some Children See Him” and have not been able to find one. Do you sell sheet music?

    thank you

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    • Stan Owen, Jr.

      No, I do not currently sell sheet-music. If I at some time arrange “Some Children See Him” for piano, I will contact you using the email address you provided. Thank you for your interest in the piece.

  • Ken Vines

    Enjoyed very much the version of “Willie Evergreen” on SMOjr’s most recent Christmas CD, “Spirit of Christmas.” I am also very fortunate to have heard Stan sing the song himself and, while Roberta’s vocals were great, I will always have a special memory of hearing the emotion in Stan’s voice as he performed W.E. for me shortly before Christmas. It was very obvious to me how much the song meant to him.