VIOLINIST SOPHIE ARMSTRONG RELEASES CHRISTMAS ALBUM AHEAD OF THE HOLIDAY SEASON
‘Christmas Classics’ presents a stunning compilation of instrumental holiday songs featuring Toronto-based harpist Chantal Dubé
CALGARY (December 3, 2019) – World renowned musical artist Sophie Armstrong has released her latest album, ‘Christmas Classics’, to the delight of fans. Her Christmas album, which officially drops today, includes a collection of traditional holiday music, such as ‘Auld Lang Syne’ and a fusion of several up-tempo songs for fans to enjoy during the holiday season.
Sophie Armstrong, formerly known as Sophie Serafino, has recently returned to the international music scene with the October release of her single, ‘Unvanquished’. She has been charming audiences around the world for close to a decade and has earned a name for herself in the music industry through her lively musical compositions and dynamic performance style. Sophie is now adding a Christmas album to her extensive musical repertoire.
“I’m absolutely thrilled to share my latest Christmas album with fans old and new,” says Armstrong. “Great music is timeless. This album is a collection of music that is close to my heart and I want to share that music with my fans in-time for the holiday season.”
With a love for instrumental Christmas music, Sophie wanted to create a holiday album full of her all-time favourite songs. Sophie began the creative process of producing and recording her Christmas album in both Calgary and Toronto. The album features notable Toronto-based harpist, Chantal Dubé. Dubé has appeared on Drake’s album ‘Views’.
“It has been an absolute pleasure to collaborate with Sophie on creating this album,” says Dubé. ““I’ve never heard the violin performed so smoothly and effortlessly, creating the perfect tone and harmony to compliment the harp. Sophie has an incredible ear for music and this album shows off our ability to collaborate in a way that showcases both of our instruments.”
As part of the official launch of her ‘Christmas Classics’ album, Sophie is embarking on a special holiday tour to perform at several holiday venues throughout Calgary. Fans can expect to see Sophie perform at Market Collective on Dec. 14, the Calgary International Airport on Dec. 18, and the CORE Christmas lighting on Dec. 21. You can see some of Sophie’s past performances here.
You guys! It’s been SUCH a whirlwind few weeks. I’m so excited to share finally, a preview of a BRAND NEW CHRISTMAS ALBUM! Recorded with Toronto based Harpist Chantal Dube (known for her work with Drake) we recorded in two different cities (when I was 8 months pregnant and couldn’t travel!) to create this beautiful serene instrumental Christmas album with all your favourite Christmas Carols! Out NOW for pre-order: https://music.apple.com/ca/album/christmas-classics/1485104910
Chantal began her musical journey when she was just four years old under her mother’s expert tutelage. Her mother, who owned and operated a piano studio, remained a constant inspiration in Chantal’s life as she explored her passion for music and ultimately, the harp.
In 1992 Chantal attended the Royal Conservatory Summer School of Music at Ridley College, which was sponsored by the Niagara Symphony. Here she began her enduring relationship with the harp and she continued to take lessons with the Niagara Symphony’s Principal Harpist, Doris Scharing.
As Chantal advanced her harp-playing techniques, she initiated studies with the Principal Harpist from the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Suzanne Thomas.
In 2006 Chantal and violinist Cheryl Hodgson recorded a Christian album entitled “Unto His Name”, a collection of spiritual songs interwoven with some well known classical pieces. After many requests for a solo album, in 2008 Chantal recorded her third album entitled “Still Moments”, a collection of hymns that have helped her through her spiritual journeys. Chantal also recorded a solo harp Christmas album titled “Heavenly Peace” which debuted on 100 Huntley Street Dec 7, 2012. You can purchase her latest albums on iTunes or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org to purchase the CD.
Since 1996 Chantal has been sharing her musical prowess with others through performances at occasions such as weddings, banquets, funerals and cooperate events. Her repertoire is very current including songs from the Top 40 charts and consists of many genres of music to please the varied tastes of her audiences. Chantal performs for over 50 events a year, with her years of experience in the wedding industry she comes highly recommended by Toronto’s top wedding vendors and venues.
Most recently Chantal was contacted by Drake’s producers to record for Drake’s album VIEWS. She received credits for her work on Drake’s album VIEWS which was released in April 2016. The harp can be heard on the tracks titled: Keep the Family Close, U With Me & Child’s Play.
In her spare time, Chantal enjoys volunteering at the Credit Valley Hospital playing in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for the premature babies. The harp has been scientifically proven to benefit preemies. This is a unique way that Chantal is able to give back to her community.
“Chantal’s harp music brings a wonderful calming effect. The music creates a soothing environment for the infants, moms, and dads. It gives family members a moment to pause in an environment that can be very stressful and make families very anxious.” ~ Nancy Frank Patient and Care Manager, NICU.
Sophie’s video Unvanquished is OUT TODAY! We’re so excited to share this with you, all the way from beautiful Scotland! Check out video director Ewen Clarke’s notes about the video below. Ewen is an award winning producer and film maker, we are so lucky to be working with him!
When Sophie came to me with the song Unvanquished and suggested shooting a music video that reconnects with her Scottish roots I was pretty excited. My first listen of the song immediately conjured up visions of this epic Scottish scenery, dark skies, dramatic landscapes. Sophie explained the meaning to the song that she wanted portrayed in the video: overcoming personally challenges and ultimately succeeding in your goal. Hence the title “Unvanquished”. We decided on a storyline that wasn’t really obvious, but that would hopefully lead the viewer in their own interpretation of it. For the story, there are basically two Sophies. The performance Sophie (wearing the white dress) and the ‘real’ Sophie wearing the black dress. The music really inspired a kind of chased, hunted feeling for a lot of it, so we opted to have the real Sophie being chased by something that we don’t actually see. This is metaphorically her challenges, her problems: whatever it is that she needs to overcome.
For the most of the video, performing Sophie is separate from the storyline. She is simply playing the song, while the story unfolds to the ‘real’ Sophie. After an initial chase where we see Sophie running away from her pursuer, she happens across a bow and arrow. This signifies a change in character, as basically she is no longer panicking, she has the tools to overcome her challenges now. There are some more running scenes, but now Sophie is confident, and is more the one doing the hunting than being hunted. Towards the end of the video we see her stalking through the forest, and firing a shot, presumably vanquishing her foe. Following this, she proceeds to the top of this natural rock formation that looks very castle like, and stands victorious on the summit, unvanquished.
The video ends with us seeing what is presumably a flashback of performance Sophie (in the white dress) sneaking down to the river and hiding her violin, which turns into the bow and arrow that the hunted Sophie discovers. This is supposed to convey that the answers to your problems, whatever you need to succeed, is inside you already. In this instance, one version of Sophie essentially helps herself to achieve her goal and overcome her challenges.
Or alternatively you could say we just made a fun video, running around some stunning locations in Scotland firing a bow and arrow. Haha. Up to you.
The locations were all researched remotely while we were over here in Canada which was a little challenging. It meant we didn’t always know exactly what to expect when we arrived at a location to shoot because photos can often be quite clever and misleading! But I knew that we would also stumble across some great locations while we were travelling around Scotland, as it’s pretty hard to go wrong in that beautiful country. I was particularly excited to shoot in Scotland as I grew up in England, and we used to go on holiday there every year, camping on the wild west coast. It was my first real taste of wilderness, and I can remember vividly driving through the valley of Glencoe (which appears in one shot in the video), which was the most remote and wildest place I had ever seen at that time. It was really special for me to be able to go back there and convey some of that wild, mysterious feeling in this video.
Most of the locations ended up being on the Isle of Skye, because it had the highest concentration of all the different aspects that we wanted to include in the video. It really is a beautiful place. Filming was pretty challenging due to the short timescale for the video (just 2.5 days for all the shooting and driving time once in Scotland) and I was really worried that the Scottish rain would show up and make things extra difficult. Amazingly though, it only seemed to rain almost exactly as we were done shooting for the day, and my biggest problem was that we didn’t really get much of the dark dramatic skies I was hoping for and we were often fighting with too much sunshine! The wind and the cold were also really challenging, mostly for Sophie, as myself and the Steve (the other crew member) got to wear as many clothes as we wanted while telling Sophie that she had to stand on a cliff top in just a thin dress trying to play the violin!
One of the most memorable moments is actually the very first thing we shot, down in the gorgeous green canyon. I really wanted a performance shot with Sophie standing on a boulder in the middle of the stream. This got pretty involved as the three of us tried to figure out how to safely get Sophie and her VERY expensive violin out on the boulder without anything going wrong on the first day of shooting. I never actually asked Sophie what would have happened to the violin if we dropped it in the water…
My favourite moment was how everything came together on the final morning, for the final Unvanquished scene. We arrived before sunrise to check out the location and angles, and it was FREEZING cold with a howling wind. Steve and I figured out the shots we wanted, had a brief amusing conversation about whether we wanted sheep in the shot or whether we should scare them away, that I eventually won by saying that this was supposed to be the epic portion of the video and that sheep are definitely NOT epic animals. When Sophie was ready were brought her out and it was obvious we really didn’t have long to get the shots we needed. Both because of the rising sun, the fact that the location would soon be overrun with tourists, and that Sophie was REALLY freaking cold. To make matters worse, Sophie had to do a lot of the shots for this portion in her barefeet because we could see her shoes while she ran which really didn’t look right. In the end, it worked out perfectly despite only having time for one take of each of the shots. Right down to the fact that the sun crested the horizon in exactly the right spot to backlight Sophie’s epic walk along the top of the castle. And we managed to not get any sheep in too 😉
Sophie’s new single Unvanquished is out today! This pop Celtic track, a new direction in Sophie’s world music/world-beat style, celebrates Sophie’s Scottish heritage with this dramatic Celtic folk music inspired track, co-written with and produced by Rob Wells. Music Video coming soon!
Sophie will make a special appearance as alumni of the 2017 Calgary edition, and perform her new single for guests of the Canadian Business Chicks Toronto edition of Women of Inspiration, on 9th October! Click here for tickets and details.
Coming up on October 4th, Sophie will join Pavlo on stage at his show at Festival Place in Sherwood Park, near Edmonton Alberta, and also at the Bella Theatre in the Taylor Centre for Performing Arts on October 5th. Check out these links for tickets: