When Dr. Carly York responded to what she describes as “a true calling to sing and record music for Advent and Christmas” in fall 2019, she had no idea she would be creating an inspirational oasis for a year of pandemic.
Advent, Christmas music by local cantor, organist now available
“The actual album was not ready for the public until the spring. It seems that God had a plan in mind all along for the timing of this music,” she reflected. “My hope is that this album will be soothing, calming, and uplifting for people this Advent and Christmas season. ... I think these particular songs are so meditative, and the very organic production of the album is perfect for people in this new pandemic-laden world.”
The collection of classic hymns and chants, titled "Christmas Calm," including favorites like “O Come O Come Emmanuel” and “Creator of the Stars of Night,” was recorded in Holy Cross Church, Rumson, where Dr. York, her husband and family are parishioners. She collaborated with organist Elena Brandt of Nativity Parish, Fair Haven; the two had been making music together throughout 2019, and Dr. York really wanted the two to take on a recording project together.
“While I regularly sing as a cantor [in Holy Cross, Nativity and St. Mary Mother of God, Middletown], my ‘day job’ is more arts administration, and I was missing the creative aspect so much,” she allowed.
Dr. York is K-12 supervisor of visual and performing arts for Wall Township public schools, and adjunct professor of music at Georgian Court University, Lakewood. She holds a master’s degree in liturgical music from The Catholic University of America, Washington, a master’s degree in vocal music performance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a doctorate in education from Seton Hall University, South Orange. She has been singing and recording since 1993.
“I was actually raised Protestant, and church music was a huge part of my childhood,” Dr. York said. In high school she won the Word of Life International Teens Competition in Schroon Lake, N.Y., in the mid-1990s, and went on to earn a bachelor of arts in music performance at American University, Washington, D.C., on a full scholarship.
Years of professional performance in choirs and as a soloist followed, and finally her introduction to the Catholic faith at Catholic University.
“I had been singing classical Catholic music for several years in my church music ministry; however, in graduate school, I really learned the theology and liturgy of the Church,” she explained.
Subsequent studies in vocal performance; teaching music internationally in Beijing, Zurich and the U.N. International School in New York City , and CD recordings and performances with the National Chorale brought her eventually to the Diocese of Trenton and cantoring for several of its parishes – ultimately leading her to convert officially to Catholicism in 2013.
Dr. York’s pursuit of her liturgical music master’s “left a deep impact on me, how closely the Word of God is intertwined into the liturgy of Catholic music. I am deeply connected to the Psalms as a musician.” To that end, she began a blog at www.renewandtransform.com, dedicated to meditating upon various Scripture passages as a means of spiritual restoration.
The CD is now live on iTunes and many other streaming services. Links to all of the main channels can be found on https://carlyyork.hearnow.com/, and YouTube videos at Dr. York’s channel, Renew and Transform: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOjRcZDDZFcMk6ATUSB4SAg.