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Dickens Carolers release `No Place like Aspen’ CD

Aspen Times Staff Report

There has been no shortage of opportunities to see the local choral group, the Dickens Carolers. The group, led by Julie Paxton, has been a mainstay of the Roaring Fork Valley’s holiday season for the past 20 years, and has appeared on such television shows as “Good Morning America” and “John Denver’s Christmas in Aspen.”

The group is still going strong. This year, Paxton estimates the group will make nearly 30 appearances, from benefit events to performances for the senior citizens at the Castle Creek Terrace assisted living center to gigs on the Snowmass Village Mall.

Now the Dickens Carolers can be heard year-round. The group’s CD, “No Place Like Aspen (For the Holidays),” is available at the Great Divide Music Store and Carl’s Pharmacy, as well as at all of the group’s performances. “No Place Like Aspen” marks the second time the Dickens Carolers have recorded their holiday music; 12 years ago, they were joined by John Denver for a record that also included the Aspen Choral Society and others.

“No Place Like Aspen” spans a range of holiday tunes, all done a cappella. There are ancient traditional tunes, like the German “Lo How a Rose,” the English “Christmas Is Coming” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” and the 8th century Gregorian “O Come, O Come Immanuel.” There are religious spirituals like “Rise Up Shepherd,” and secular songs such as “Frosty the Snowman” and “Jingle Bell Rock.”

The recording features sopranos Sherrill Kerr and Julie Paxton, altos Geraldine Brockwell and Linda Kimmel, tenors Bill Capps and Tom Paxton, and basses Scott MacCracken and Hogan McWilliams.

While the Dickens Carolers’ “No Place Like Aspen” offers a traditional a cappella take on holiday music, two other new Christmas recordings give a twist to the season’s music.

“Hawaiian Slack Key Christmas,” from Dancing Cat Records, features top Hawaiian slack key players doing instrumental takes on Christmas music. The gentle, ringing sound of the slack key guitars is ideal for such songs as “Silver Bells” and “Away in a Manger.” There are even a pair of truly Hawaiian contributions to a Christmas collection, in “Mele Kalikimaka la ‘Oe (Merry Christmas to You)” and the vocal number “My Hawaiian Christmas.”

At the other end of the spectrum from the laid-back “Hawaiian Slack Key Christmas” is “The Three Tenors Christmas,” featuring Jos Carreras, Plcido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti. The CD, with full operatic bombast, was recorded live last December at the Konzerthaus in Vienna, and includes Gumpoldskirchner Spatzen Children’s Choir and the Vienna Symphony, with conductor Steven Mercurio. “The Three Tenors Christmas” moves back and forth from Europe to America, ancient to modern, as they handle “Cantique de Nol (O Holy Night)” and “Adeste Fideles” (“O Come All Ye Faithful”), “White Christmas” and “Winter Wonderland.”

The Three Tenors Christmas Concert is also available, for free, over the Internet at onlineclassics.com. The music and video of the concert is available for free through Jan. 6.


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