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W&L Music Professor Releases New Christmas Music

Terry Vosbein, professor of music at Washington and Lee University, composed and arranged a new CD of Christmas music, “Stradivarius Christmas,” featuring violinist Jasper Wood and pianist David Riley. From Max Frank Music, the CD collects jazz and classical selections.

Wood and Riley first performed the music at Washington and Lee for the Sonoklect series, a festival of modern music that Vosbein directs.

“The CD has been in the works for seven or eight years,” said Vosbein. “Jasper and Dave came up with the idea for a Christmas CD and asked me to try a couple of pieces. So I arranged ‘O Tannenbaum’ and ‘Jingle Bells.’ They loved them, and I began to pick and choose the titles and figure out a way to make them my own.”

Wood, Riley and Vosbein first met at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Wood and Riley have recorded six duo CDs over 20 years of collaboration. They received the 2004 East Coast Music Award for Best Classical Record for a CD of Igor Stravinsky’s works for violin and piano.

“I did the bulk of the writing for this project in the summer of 2006 in Paris, and it was premiered at a SonoKlect concert that December,” Vosbein said. “We recorded the music in Toronto the following summer, and I decided that I would release ‘Stradivarius Christmas’ on Max Frank Music because it was too good not to put out there.”

The CD includes such traditional pieces as “Away in a Manger,” “What Child is This?” and “O Holy Night/Ave Maria.” Vosbein’s composition of “A Christmas Rag” is also featured.

“The biggest challenge was to be true to the original melodies, yet keep it interesting,” Vosbein said. “Although I stray away, and ornament, I want people to hear these songs and recognize them. I wanted to appeal on many levels, no matter the listener’s musical education or experience, and I didn’t want it ever to be trite.”

Vosbein has received numerous commissions to write new works from such organizations as the Cleveland Orchestra and the Cleveland Museum of Art. He has composed works for orchestra, wind ensemble, various chamber ensembles and choir. He has written works for jazz bands of all sizes, and his compositions have been performed all over the world.

A member of the W&L faculty since 1996, Vosbein received his master’s in composition from James Madison University under the tutelage of John Hilliard, and his doctorate in composition from the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he was a student of Donald Erb.

“Stradivarius Christmas” is available from Max Frank Music, iTunes, Amazon and CDBaby.

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