Dorchester-based guitarist Aaron Larget-Caplan, a UMass Boston professor and international touring and recording artist, has just released “A Guitar Holiday” on Spotify and Amazon to notable success. As of press time, the album had over 200,000 streams on the two platforms.
The concept for the recording began in September when Larget-Caplan, who lives in Uphams Corner, was contacted by Grammy-winning producer Kabir Sehgal.
“He liked my playing, and he asked if I would be interested in making a holiday album,” Larget-Caplan said. “Most of my albums before this have been John Cage [a 20th-century American composer] or contemporary music, so this was a bit of a change. I said, ‘Well, let me think about it.’
“I did some searching for different music, different arrangements. I came up with some and started working on them. I found an affinity for them and really enjoyed it, and I said yes. Over the course of about two weeks, I learned, recorded, edited, and completed an album.”
The result is close to a half-hour collection of Larget-Caplan’s arrangements of classic holiday songs. His delicate touch with the guitar includes up-tempo versions of “Deck the Halls” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” as well as slower carols like “Away in a Manger.” A defining feature of all the pieces is Larget-Caplan’s intricate fretting and rhythmic touches.
His favorite piece on the album is “Greensleeves,” a Renaissance English song with the same tune as the popular Christmas carol “What Child is This?”
“It’s one of the first pieces I learned how to play on the guitar,” Larget-Caplan said. “I’ve taught many versions of it to students. When I put this together, I knew I would be including “Greensleeves.” That was mission number one. I’m really happy with that arrangement and I thought it came out nicely.”
He was also pleased with the arrangement of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” which allowed him to feature an array of guitar techniques, including pizzicato to mute the strings, and harmonics, which he used on other songs as well.
As a guitarist who made his name playing contemporary classical music, Larget-Caplan says that this album is a welcome departure from his usual repertoire.
“A fan ran into me who loves all the albums I’ve done, but he was really excited to have music that he knew,” he said. “I was able to create an artistic product while playing pieces that would be considered popular music.”
“A Guitar Holiday” is available on Bandcamp and for streaming on Amazon and Spotify.