It's that time of year! Well, almost. Some of us have already broken down and started listening to Christmas music. Some of you are determined to wait until after Thanksgiving.
Either way, here's a CD you'll want to add to your Christmas music collection. And for those of you adhering to the post-Thanksgiving rule, this album just might convince you to start playing the Christmas music right now.
Pianist David Tolk's newest release, "David Tolk Christmas," focuses on the true meaning of Christmas — the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Tolk's contemplative arrangements of carols like "Still Still Still" and "O Come O Come Emmanuel" quickly bring the Christmas spirit.
"My purpose in recording this album was to create music which would bring into people's homes the warmth and peace associated with the message of the birth of the Savior. ... Some Christmas albums focus on the excitement of the season or the frosty weather outside. I wanted the music on this album to get to the heart and true meaning of the Christmas season," Tolk said.
For Tolk, these Christmas carols bring back old and new memories.
"The Christmas songs on this album bring me back to our warm home in the small wooded colonial town in New Jersey where I was raised," he said. "I remember helping my father bring in the snow-covered firewood from the backyard to fill the fireplace for our Christmas Eve fire. I have the fondest memories of singing Christmas carols with my family around the fireplace and acting out the nativity scene as my father read the Christmas story from the New Testament.
"Now that I am a father of four, these Christmas songs remind me of more recent Christmas experiences with my wife and children. ... I recall caroling to our neighbors with plates of cookies as the snow swirled around us on Christmas Eve. These Christmas songs remind me of the special spirit which warms our home during the holiday months as we focus our thoughts and actions on the Savior," said Tolk.
As I've listened to Tolk's beautiful piano playing surrounded by the warmth of the violin, acoustic guitar, English horn, oboe and mandolin, warmth and peace have enveloped me. My mind goes back to memories of reading the Christmas story with my family, and growing up from when the excitement and wonder of Christmas shifts from Santa to the Savior.
Tolk realizes the power of music to help us keep our focus in the right place, particularly during the holiday season.
"Many people use music as a way to receive strength as they go through difficult times. I have made a very conscious decision to make sure that all of my compositions, arrangements, and recordings will promote peace and goodness.
"I feel grateful that I have been given the opportunity to create music which can edify and inspire and which can help counteract the enormous negative impact some of the popular music is having on the world. I feel that there is a special quality of instrumental music, which allows people to feel at peace and to reflect upon those things which are important," he said.
Tolk understands the potential music has to bring peace into our lives. He created his beautiful new album to give the world more of what we need — less focus on the commercial side of the holidays and more time to reflect on the Savior's birth — the true meaning of Christmas.
On Nov. 13, Tolk will be performing a solo piano concert at the Sandy City Hall. He will also be performing with Peter Breinholt at the Rose Wagner Theatre in Salt Lake City on Dec. 17 and 18. For more information, visit davidtolk.com.
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company