Classical Kids, has for a number of years now, provided some of the finest productions in introducing children of all ages--from four to 90--to classical music. I've been broadcasting all of Classical Kids' released on the radio for some time, and always to great enthusiasm from families, judging from phone calls and letters I receive asking for more.
With Classical Kids' previous release, "Song of the Unicorn," it was hard to imagine what creator/writer Susan Hammond might come up with next in her forays of digging into the lives of composers such as Bach, Vivaldi, Handel, Mozart, and Tchaikovsky and making the stories come alive to young listeners. It is, after all, the younger folk of today who will guide the future of great music. It's up to us to see that they get the best.
All of this is said in praise of the latest release from Classical Kids, "A Classical Kids Christmas," an ingenious idea from Susan Hammond, and one that seems to emerge to the world at a time when we truly need the beauty, charm, and inspiration that is contained in the disc's 47 minutes. The Christmas story is told over a background of wonderfully performed traditional carols and music featuring soloists, choirs, and instrumentalists of the highest caliber. One will occasionally find a piece that is not familiar--such as the Polish Lullaby, stunningly sung by Mary Bella, whose voice pours forth in a cathedral of grand magnificence. The High Park Choirs of Toronto, along with the instrumentalists, are in top form.
What amazes me about Susan Hammond's creativity, and what makes her work so magnetic, is the fact that she provides such a variety of music, from Medieval chants to music by Handel and Vivaldi to Tchaikovsky and Brahms, and many others. Hammond was responsible for most of the arrangements and adaptations contained on this disc, and credit is due to Errol Gay for some outstanding choral arranging. The disc is charged with energy that, at once, becomes infectious.
All one needs to do is to paint an image in the mind of an entire town pouring down Main Street, all feeling the joys of the Christmas season, taking in the festive decorations. It is great fun to discover the Medieval myths of how the robin got its red breast! But more, the choices of music, the effectiveness of the actors ... indeed, the entire way this is assembled makes it one of the finest discs of its kind that I have encountered.
Packaging and sound--with an added bonus of a Christmas tree ornament inside the jewel case--are first class. I noted that Manta Eastern Sound under Gary Gray was responsible for the recording, which is impeccably clean and clear.
If I have but one negative, it is the fact that I must wait until Christmastime each year to broadcast this recording. You can be sure it will be heard much more frequently than this by yours truly. As a classical music broadcast, however, this is precisely the kind of recording I would consider broadcasting.
"A Classical Kids Christmas" is highly recommended. It is a great stocking stuffer and will give to children the true meaning of Christmas interspersed with some of the greatest music they will hear.
This release is like a gift to Classical Kids' many fans, and for that, I thank them!
Lance G. Hill
Classical Program Director
Montrose Broadcasting Corporation