Poster Alyssa Reit
Alyssa Reit offers a delightful collection of Christmas carols on 'A Christmas Feast.'
New Classical Tracks®

Alyssa Reit offers a delightful collection of carols on 'A Christmas Feast'

New Classical Tracks: Alyssa Reit (extended interview) - Alyssa Reit
New Classical Tracks - Alyssa Reit
New Classical Tracks - December 20, 2023

Alyssa Reit – A Christmas Feast (Navona Records)

Offering a gift that just keeps giving is one way to share the Christmas spirit. Just ask harpist and arranger Alyssa Reit. She created a delightful collection of Christmas carols as a gift over 20 years ago. And now you can enjoy it, too!

“It was a project that we did to benefit a of couple of organizations, but we never actually released it,” Reit says. “People have said, ‘We love that album, and we’re still listening to it 20 years later,’ and we thought, ‘Well, why don’t we do a formal release and let people know about it?’”

The recording is filled with familiar, and some not-so-familiar, carols arranged for a variety of instruments including flute, cello, violin and horn, the former played by her husband, Peter Reit. This bounty of carols is called A Christmas Feast.

“Any impressions that you can take in and that delight your senses are a feast to me,” Reit says. “And I also felt like I want to feed people. I want to give something that gives some kind of nourishment to other people.”

Why did you decide to open the recording with “Ding Dong Merrily on High”?

Well, it's very cheerful and it's a little bit known, and also our co-producer and recording engineer, Steve Jankowski, had the idea to put in what he calls ‘ear candy,’ which is the little bells that he added to the recording, which is just for fun. And I’m now remembering that when I was a very young child, and for many years when we lived in Manhattan, there were churches that were nearby that would ring bells. There's something so magical about bells for everybody.”

What textures and colors surprised you as you arranged these pieces?

I know when we did the “Carol of the Russian Children,” which is not a well-known carol, the flute has the solo and the harpist is doing a fluid accompaniment. And it's very evocative. As the melody repeats and comes back, I brought in some of the other instruments, including the cello and the horn. I just knew that the horn doing a simple countermelody would be beautiful.

“I've done various versions of many of these, including “Patapan,” which we did with cello in the recording. But I've actually done that with my husband playing French horn. And our son is a professional trombonist, and we've done it with him, as well. So it's not surprising that every instrument has such a distinct flavor and such a distinct atmosphere to it.”

You said that “Carol of the Russian Children” was one of your favorites. Did you have any other favorites in the album?

“‘Rise Up Shepherd’ is definitely one of my favorites. It starts out with a horn solo and then adds the cello, and then the harp comes in during a key change. The entrance of the harp takes you to another world. It's a very distinct transition, and it's very surprising. I love the melody, and I love that it just starts so simply and then just grows and grows.”


Alyssa Reit – A Christmas Feast (Amazon)

Alyssa Reit – A Christmas Feast (Navona Records)

Alyssa Reit (official site)

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