A GROUP OF Ottawa-based musicians have collaborated with a variety of embassies and the Anglican Christ Church Cathedral on Sparks Street to release an album of inspiration, co-operation, and joy.
Christmas Mosaic 2 is a collection of 24 songs gathered from 22 countries in our global village. The pieces are all traditional to the representative countries, some dating from as far back as the 15th century, and many hard to find on any extant recordings.
The pieces are often introduced by verbal greetings from Ottawa-based cultural attachés, some of whom give interesting background on the included pieces. These people from abroad helped the project in earlier stages as well, often translating lyrics and providing coaching on pronunciation.
The album is a showpiece for talented 16-year-old counter-tenor, Leo Trottier, and his 13-year-old brother. Musical arrangements were created by Hungary-born Gabor Finta, and the instrumentalists are all from universities and orchestras from the Ottawa area.
Recorded in Christ Church Cathedral, the album has two shining virtues. One is its presentation of beautiful Christmas music from all over God’s creation, much of which has seldom been heard by ears in this country, and the implicit message of our ultimate unity in the word made flesh, Jesus Christ.
The other is the philanthropy behind the project. To wit, a good portion of the profits accrued from the sale of this album will benefit UNICEF.
The album is not impeccable musically or sonically. The brothers Trottier do not always hit their notes, or consistently please the ear even when they do.
One must, however, keep in mind that this is not the work of professional musicians backed by major record company conglomerates. It is a labour of love by well-intentioned souls who want to send a set of positive messages. They express the message of Christmas in word and in deed by this project. In that sense, Christmas Mosaic 2 is a sincere and often delightful release of merit.
Wilfred Langmaid is Anglican chaplain of the University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, and music critic for the Fredericton Gleaner.