From the Library…A Winter’s Solstice

Today, Radio Riel fea­tures the “A Winter’s Sol­stice” series from Wind­ham Hill Records. The Wind­ham Hill label start­ed small when it began twen­ty-five years ago. This label rep­re­sent­ed music that crossed many instru­men­tal gen­res such as folk, clas­si­cal and jazz, and even­tu­al­ly came to be known as “New Age” music. The label real­ly took off with the “A Winter’s Sol­stice” series and began to achieve extra­or­di­nary sales that cul­mi­nat­ed with the series going plat­inum.

Wind­ham Hill released the first album in the series in 1985. It mix­es folk, clas­si­cal, and jazz into a unique and relax­ing hol­i­day blend. It has a very “acoustic” fla­vor, con­cen­trat­ing on solo instru­ments and small ensem­bles. The use of rare instru­ments, such as harp, harp­si­chord and oboe, and of non-tra­di­tion­al songs make this album a wel­come change from the same old hol­i­day songs that you hear year in and year out. Each song on the album is an instru­men­tal. This album was so suc­cess­ful that it even­tu­al­ly inspired the five sequel record­ings, as well as a reunion album.

Wind­ham Hill real­ized it had a huge suc­cess with the first “Winter’s Sol­stice” album. They decid­ed to con­tin­ue a good thing with the release of “A Winter’s Sol­stice II” in 1988. This album is very sim­i­lar to the first one with its use of acoustic, instru­men­tal record­ings. The songs range from mod­ern to medieval, and again are not the same trite hol­i­day tunes that every­one con­stant­ly plays. This album also con­tains sev­er­al Celtic tunes, which were not as big then as they are today.

Wind­ham Hill released the third album in 1990, the fourth in 1993, the fifth in 1995 and the sixth in 1997. One dis­tinct change that one finds with these albums is that they con­tain some of the more tra­di­tion­al­ly known hol­i­day songs, such as “The Lit­tle Drum­mer Boy”, “Veni Emmanuel”, “Car­ol of the Bells” and “Silent Night”. The albums also make a depar­ture from the pre­vi­ous albums and con­tain songs with lyrics and vocal­ists. Even with these changes, the albums still retain their eclec­tic sound and per­son­al feel­ing.

After so many suc­cess­ful releas­es in the series, Wind­ham Hill decid­ed that it was time to end the run. There is an “A Winter’s Sol­stice Reunion” album that reunites many of the artists from the series repris­ing their songs. Wind­ham Hill was no longer a small upstart label and they turned their atten­tion to build­ing new series, such as “The Car­ols of Christ­mas” col­lec­tion. How­ev­er, the “A Winter’s Sol­stice” series will always be the one that start­ed it all.

Radio Riel pro­duces this pro­gram in con­junc­tion with the Cale­don Library in Sec­ond Life. Today’s music orig­i­nates from the music library of Gabrielle Riel.

For more infor­ma­tion on the Cale­don Library, cur­rent exhibits and the work of Sec­ond Life ref­er­ence libraries in gen­er­al, please vis­it the Cale­don Library Web site, or one of their loca­tions in-world.

You can lis­ten to the pro­gram now at http://music.radioriel.org, or sim­ply vis­it any Cale­don Library branch in-world and press Play on your embed­ded music play­er.

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