Laura Greenwald
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Laura Greenwald

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"Students' Holiday CD Will Aid Pettengill House, Geiger Crisis Center"

By Kendra Kelley/
Friday, December 08, 2006 - Updated: 12:00 AM EST

Amesbury singer Laura Greenwald, 13, started Christmas very early this year.
Last Spring, the River Valley Charter School student began rehearsing with a group of seven other 9- to 14-year-old performers for a holiday benefit album. After months of practice, recording, and singing carols on hot summer afternoons, the group has sold over 100 copies of their CD [now over 350], with all proceeds going to benefit the Pettengill House in Salisbury and the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center in Newburyport and Amesbury.

“We wanted to make a CD to help. It was fun to do it with my friends,” says Greenwald, who recorded her own CD last year.

The holiday collection, “Believe”includes songs and narratives performed entirely by young singers and musicians including River Valley Charter School students and alums, Alex Allen, Neil He, Delaney Hulbert, Justin Knowlton and Allison Russo. Laura’s brother, William, and her cousin, Julianna Matthews are also featured on the album.

“We brought everyone into the project by the time we were done,” says Greenwald’s mom, Aline Carriere adding that a cousin working as a graphic artist designed packaging.

Carriere said the group overcame several hurdles in making the CD, and the album itself exemplifies the holiday spirit of community. The children initially began recording at the Stefanopoulos Recording Studio where owner Stefan Tsiplakis had given them free studio time. After recording several tracks, however, Tsiplakis’ studio was robbed and the recordings were lost.

“It was terrible in many ways, for us, but of course it was awful for him,” says Carriere.

Rebach Music Studio in Newburyport stepped in and offered the free studio time the children needed to produce the album and the narratives were recorded at the Amesbury Middle School and High School. “A lot of help from many people made it possible,” she says.

The 29 tracks range from the traditional (“Oh Holy Night”) to the new classics (“Walking in the Air” from “The Snowman”). The songs alternate with excerpts from Charles Dickens, Luke 2:8-14 and “The Little Match Girl” by Hans Christian Anderson read by the children. Greenwald and her mom both say one of highlights on the CD, is 9-year-old Neil He’s performance of “Fur Elise.”

“He is our Shroeder,” Carriere jokes about the Charlie Brown parallels.

He, now 10, has been studying piano since the age of 5 and last year recorded his own CD at home to benefit Tsunami Victims Relief. He says he was thrilled to perform on holiday album. “It was a great opportunity. It’s for a good cause and it was an honor to be on it,” he says.

Like Greenwald, who has been singing since the age of 8, most of the children featured on the album have been practicing their craft for a large portion of their young lives.

Greenwald says recording the album gave her and her friends a new appreciation for their CD collections.

“It was a lot of work,” she said, describing the strangeness of singing “Little Town of Bethlehem” in June.

“It was like Christmas every day,” she jokes, “but with no presents.”

Greenwald says the reward has come now that she has seen the result of all the work. She writes in the liner notes, "I hope everyone who listens to this CD will hear and experience some of the generosity and adventure that made it possible."

- Community News Service, Amesbury News, Newburyport Current


2006 Believe-a holiday music collection. Available at CDBaby, iTunes and

2005 Wonder


Feeling a bit camera shy


"All I can say is wow! You have an amazing voice, it's so pure, and strong, and beautiful. (And you're so young too, good stuff!) It was just really lovely to listen to."
---- Sophie Serese, Composer

---- Anne Easter Smith, Folk Singer and Author of "A Rose for the Crown"

Laura lives in Amesbury, in northeastern Massachusetts, about 20 minutes from the Atlantic Ocean. She has performed at Symphony Hall in Boston, MA with the Cross Border Orchestra of Ireland, but she considers that her greatest achievement to date is the holiday CD "Believe" that she recorded in 2006 with her friends to benefit local charities and for which she was honored as a "Youth Hero" by the American Red Cross. Laura is 13 years old.


2007 Governor's Inaugural Ball, Boston Convention Center;
2006 Amahl & the Night Visitors by Gian Carlo Menotti;
Dido and Aeneas by Henry Purcell;
The Seven Goats by Engelbert Humperdinck;
Gloria by Vivaldi
Collins Center for the Performing Arts, Andover, MA
Methuen Music Hall, Methuen, MA;
St. Michael's Church, North Andover, MA

TREBLE CHORUS OF NEW ENGLAND, Soprano, 2005-2006 in seven languages (English, French, Italian, German, Latin, Gaelic and Chinese)

2006, An Evening of Choral Music with the Schola Cantorum of the Westminster Choir College, First Baptist Church, Newton, MA
Venus and Adonis, a Baroque Opera by John Blow, Emerson Umbrella, Concord, MA
NTDTV Chinese New Year Global Gala Cutler Majestic Theatre, Boston, MA
2005 Atlantic Rhythms Tour with the Cross Border Orchestra of Ireland and Emmanuel Lawler, Symphony Hall, Boston, MA

Laura has studied voice with Alison Trick in Newburyport, MA for three years. She has also performed in numerous community theater productions.

See also