from Phillip Lester
In 1988, I began arranging Christmas carols for classical guitar and recorded twelve of them in a collection entitled SEASONS. Every holiday season since then, I’ve found myself rearranging and exploring new ways of communicating the spirit of these melodies on solo guitar. From 1989-1991 I worked as a musician in Boston which led me to spend several months a year performing on the subway platforms under Harvard University (Inbound on the Red Line). Much of that time was spent working on new arrangements which I would try out on my audience of subway riders (a new audience every ten minutes! ). I guess you could say the arrangements were tested out and refined during this “underground tour.”
After moving to New Jersey in 1992, I performed extensively during
the holidays in book and gift stores that carried my SEASONS recording.
During that time I rearranged more carols. I knew that someday I
wanted to rerecord SEASONS with these new arrangements. In 1996,
I discovered the unique sound of a high strung guitar. This
is essentially a regular guitar with the 5th, 4th, and 3rd strings replaced
with the 5th, 4th, and 3rd octave strings from a 12 string guitar.
This allows the pitch of the middle strings to be brighter and creates
a texture of sound similar to a harpsichord or a hammered dulcimer.
I decided to use the High Strung guitar on "We Three Kings" and one
of the versions of "Angels We Have Heard on High."
Having recorded more arrangements since then in 2003 I decided to remaster the collection adding some more recent recordings and rerecording some previous selections. Through the use of Pro Tools Audio software I was able to revise the entire collection and incorporate some arrangements that had previously been left out. The new collection is essentially the same Carols ot the Nativity but with six new selections and several new arrangements of previous carols. Instead of including the program notes in the CD booklet I thought it better to simply offer them online. The collection may be revised every few years simply to reflect the ongoing new arrangements that come forth each holiday season.
A unifying theme throughout this hour long instrumental collection is the peace and majesty surrounding the coming of Messiah. Since this is an all instrumental program, every effort went into the arrangements and in their performance to preserve the intended spirit behind the message of each carol. You will note that I selected carols that are based solely on the events of the nativity. (Thus, there are no traditional songs about Santa Claus, snow, or the winter solstice. )
"It is my sincere wish that this music will add to the joy of your