New Recording from Visiting Band

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Canada’s Cariboo Hill

by John Docter –

Carols for the City is the name of a Christmas Eve carol festival held at the majestic Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia. It is also the name of the charming collection of Christmas selections from one of the festival’s annual participants–the Cariboo Hill Temple Band. This latest recording, under the direction of Bandmaster David Michel, tries to capture the beauty and excitement of this Vancouver, B.C. tradition.

Bustling sounds from an urban street are the first thing you hear, “catapulting” you straight into the center of a thriving metropolis. The din quickly fades into an energetic Bill Gordon arrangement of “Silver Bells.” Soon, you’re ushered into the spacious cathedral to the regal sounds of Downie’s “Intrada on ‘Regent Square’.”

The rest of the selections are comprised mainly of melodic, straight-ahead carol settings such as Condon’s “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen,” Bowes’s “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” and suites including Redhead’s “The Joy of Christmas” and Calvert’s “The Festive Season” before the timeless march “Christmas Joy” sends everyone back onto the city streets.

While none of the 15 pieces featured on the CD could be considered “heavyweight” selections, the combination of Army classics and newer, “soon-to-be-classics” perfectly captures both the festive anticipation and tender warmth of the Christmas season.

With almost 51 minutes dedicated to Christmas music, the band treats you to some lesser known, but equally moving carols.

Playing in a bright style that exudes plenty of Yuletide spirit, the band also displays a sensitive side. Pieces such as the meditation “Who Is He” and the euphonium solo “Infant Holy” serve as gentle reminders of the true Christmas message.

The most adventurous selection is Bill Gordon’s “Fantasy Variants on the Huron Carol.” Here, the band ably maneuvers its way through the extensive melodic and rhythmic development Gordon has given the tune ‘Twas in the Moon of Wintertime. David Mills, deputy bandmaster and the band’s principal cornet, also displays his arranging talent with a descriptive setting of “Amid Winter’s Snow.”

Carols for the City supplies a perfect soundtrack to the Christmas season…the kind of recording you can drop in the CD player or tape machine and let the music fill your living room with the warmth of Christmas.

You can also catch the Cariboo Hill Temple Band live this holiday season as they join the ranks of the Tournament of Roses Band and perform concerts in the Southern California and Sierra Del Mar divisions.

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