Photo by Cara Robbins
Lindsey Stirling plays Orlando Wednesday
When 2022 arrived, violinist Lindsey Stirling was at a musical crossroads. She had created a unique sound for herself by merging classical and electronic music over the course of four previous studio albums. This sound had brought her considerable acclaim and popularity — with all four albums topping the dance and classical charts.
But Stirling felt she had pretty much explored the farthest reaches of her classical/EDM fusion. It was time for a departure, time to find a new sound.
But there was a problem.
“I was trying to work on my next original album and nothing was really coming. I was feeling a lot of blockage,” says Stirling. “I think, since COVID — I never felt inspired to write during COVID and then even as we were coming out of it, I still was like ‘I’m coming up blank.’”
That’s when her plans for 2022 took a detour.
“I took a session and did a holiday song,” says Stirling. “And it just flowed so naturally and writing was fun again. So I was just like, you know what, this year is calling for a Christmas album. It’s just what I apparently wanted to do, even though I didn’t know that.”
The Christmas album in question is the newly released Snow Waltz
. It’s Stirling’s second holiday release, following the 2017 album Warmer in the Winter.
“I decided to start working on it in February,” she says. “It kind of just flowed naturally. It came out fast, thank heavens, but I’m really proud of it.”
is quite different stylistically and sonically from Warmer in the Winter,
which had lots of organic instrumentation, including full orchestrations, and felt more like a traditional Christmas album.
on the other hand, is more like Stirling’s four non-holiday albums, as it features more of an electronic sonic palette in which her violin takes center stage as the lead instrument.
“I thought, you know, rather than me leaning so far into what I think Christmas has traditionally sounded like, I’m going to take a little bit of me and my sound that I’ve done for years and I’m going to kind of combine the two,” says Stirling. “So that was the attempt of this album.”
That sound fits nicely with the thematic vision Stirling had for Snow Waltz
, where she wanted to inject a bit of Halloween spookiness into the festive sounds of the Christmas season.
“I had the idea to meld, like, Halloween has ended,” muses Stirling, “but the skeletons stuck around and accidentally discovered Christmas, and what would they think?”
The result on Snow Waltz
is a decidedly modern and quite unique Christmas album. The spooky facet of the album emerges strongly on the title track, where Stirling’s violin works hand in hand with a haunting musical backdrop, on a ghostly treatment of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” and on “Ice Storm,” which feels like a prelude to the impending cold, dreary days of winter.
But the happy spirit of Christmas is very much alive on familiar songs like “Sleigh Ride,” “Joy to the World,” which features some inventive elaboration on violin from Stirling, and “Feliz Navidad,” which gallops along to a south-of-the-border beat, as well as the peppy original “Crazy for Christmas” (co-written by Stirling and Bonnie McKee) and “Magic,” a warm original that features David Archuleta on vocals.
Stirling began developing her musical and performing approach about 15 years ago. She first tried to break through by appearing on America’s Got Talent
showcasing her classical/EDM sound and her ability to dance while playing violin. But she was voted off the show, with judge Piers Morgan saying she was “not untalented, but you’re not good enough, I don’t think, to get away with flying through the air and trying to play violin at the same time.”
Stung by Morgan’s critique, but determined, Stirling launched her own YouTube channel. Her videos caught on, generating enough activity that she was signed by Lady Gaga’s manager, Troy Carter.
This led to the release of Stirling’s self-titled debut album in 2012. Three more albums — 2014’s Shatter Me
, 2016’s Brave Enough
and 2019’s Artemis
— followed as she refined and sharpened her sound, did multiple tours and amassed several gold and platinum album certifications.
Stirling is excited to bring together her two holiday albums this fall on the latest edition of what’s becoming an annual Christmas tour. Orlando fans Wednesday can expect a beautiful stage set, new choreography from Stirling and her dancers and some accomplished playing from Stirling at the Dr. Phillips Center.
“It’s been really fun to get to marry the two albums together and make it like a nice hybrid of what I think is kind of the best mix from both my first Christmas album and now my second one,” says Stirling.
“It’s a super fun show. It’s going to be really energetic. There’s also going to be some really sweet, like soft moments and then ending with like a big bang of stuff we’ve never done before, including some aerial routines we worked really hard to learn. I’ll be singing, but mostly playing the violin. It’s so fun.”
Lindsey Stirling, 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 30, Walt Disney Theater, Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Artsm 445 S. Magnolia Ave., drphillipscenter.org, $40.50-$380.66.