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Holiday Cheer #29: Marcela Biven sings Merry Christmas, Darling + GET THE ALBUM

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Holiday Cheer #29: Marcela Biven sings Merry Christmas, Darling + GET THE ALBUM

The End. The “album” is here! Get the holiday cheer and support charity! More details below.

The original version of this song as sung by Karen Carpenter is a lush piece of work from the 70s, and while Marcela Biven would sound great accompanied by two spoons and a stick, I decided to up the ante and get more friends in on the act. Fortunately, Amazon had some microphones on sale. This was very necessary for a 12-piece band. Unfortunately, Amazon doesn’t have orchestral arrangements of 70s pop tunes. Given that I hadn’t transcribed any music in close to 20 years, I cannot verify the accuracy of the string and vocal parts, but let’s just close our eyes and pretend I nailed it.

Marcela is one of my favorite people. She is Punahou graduate and currently finishing up her senior year at NYU Tisch School of the Arts. She loves coffee and cats, and has a voice made of gold. She learned how to ride a bicycle on the top of a large water tank next to her house, and consequently can only ride in one direction in a circle. For this recording, she popped in from NYU’s Bobst Library where she was studying for finals, then promptly returned after the session. Give her an A, Santa Claus!

I emailed Yale classmate Nick Anderson (cajon) two hours before the session to beg him to grab some mic cables for me because I forgot to order cables along with those microphones. He said, “No problem, I will get them from Guitar Center once you tell me what your wind chime budget is.” Ironically, I was considering purchasing some chimes, but thought, “Nah, that’s a waste of money.” NO IT’S NOT. Lesson learned. Needed them anyway for the intro to my karaoke song: Bon Jovi’s Wanted Dead or Alive.

I met Dr. Matthew Christian Saleh (bass) at a birthday party few months ago, and somewhere between my 3rd and 4th drink, I found out that he played bass. A month later, I tracked him down through his girlfriend’s Facebook page in a conversation that went something like “I think your bf told me he played bass.” She replied, “Yes, yes, he does,” and here he is.

Mark Leiter (saxophone) stuck around after recording his funky fresh version of “Let It Snow” to play a mere 4 bars of solo. This Chief Strategy Officer at the Nielsen Company tells me that our holiday album will hit the top 1,000,000 if you buy it.

Brian Oh (viola) played what was originally a cello part. But when I was unable to track down a cellist, I converted the part to viola, but forgot to give him the part. So he was transposing from bass clef to alto clef on the fly. That is almost as bad ass as running a marathon in 3:33.

Rob Meyer(violin) had to present his case to the MPAA early in the week to earn a rating for his movie, “A Birder’s Guide to Everything.” His Powerpoint presentation used vivid examples from “Showgirls”, “Blue Velvet”, and “Starship Troopers” to….oh wait, I’m confusing my AppleTV playlist with his life. But whatever, his movie earned a PG-13, take your adolescent children.

Swan Chang (violin) hid behind Marcela for the entire recording. This might be because he had a big Camerata Notturna orchestra party last night, or it might be a function of wide angle lenses and parallax. He may or may not have run a credit check on everyone in the band in his role as Director of Financial Operations at Artivest.

Let me tell you a funny story. I was eating sushi earlier in the week, stressing about not having found back-up vocalists for this track. Suddenly, I found myself talking to a couple at the sushi bar, and somehow we got on the topic of the Holiday Cheer series. Turns out that the woman, Angela Shankar, is a professional clarinetist, and she said, “I’ll ask some friends and email you tomorrow.” I was thinking to myself, “Yeah, right.” But the next day, I received an email from Angela telling me that she had recruited two of her friends…

Alison Crossley (soprano) is a professional flautist, and teaches at “In the Pocket” in New York City while she’s not playing in a celtic band or freelancing around town. We met the day of the recording. It’s almost like Tinder, and I swiped right, right?

Maria Elena Armijo (alto) is a professional singer and also teaches at “In the Pocket” in New York, while she’s not singing opera or jazz in Gotham. Both Alison and Elena told me that they’re always up to help a good cause, and I was stunned by their generosity of spirit. Whatever possessed them to show up at some random dude’s apartment on a Sunday afternoon is beyond me, but I am truly blessed, and this experience reinforces what I love about New York: A good bagel. I mean, great people and interesting stories!

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