Rockin’ for a New Age

David Arkenstone, who composed “The Sounds of Malibu” music set to video/photos of Malibu, which airs on Time Warner’s Harmony Channel, will perform in concert at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza Dec. 21.

By Melonie Magruder / Special to The Malibu Times

A transplant to California from Chicago as a young boy, David Arkenstone grew up in a musical family who set an early harmonic example of eclectic tastes.

“My parents were musicians,” Arkenstone said, “and we listened to everything in the spectrum at home. My mom was always singing around the house. So I was born into a natural love for all musical styles.”

So, if you try to define Arkenstone’s style, you’ll find a grab bag of classic rock and New Age, mixed with the wonders of techno-studio tools that create what is loosely called World music.

“I play keyboards, guitar and flute, Arkenstone said. “But by the time I was out of high school, I knew I wanted to be a composer.”

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But current pop styles didn’t seem to fit with the less aggressive sounds that inspired him.

“I toured with a lot of rock and pop bands and that’s just not a vibe that tells my story,” he said. “I mean, what’s left where you don’t have to close a kid’s eyes and ears to what’s being played? I wanted to compose in a place where you are safe and where the message is pure.”

Arkenstone’s message ended up being pure enough to launch him to the top of the charts within the World music genre and he saw three Grammy nominations come his way, with the latest honor being for his 2004 CD titled, “Atlantis: A Symphonic Journey.”

Arkenstone’s music had enough cinematic resonance to attract the attention of the Harmony Channel, one of Time Warner Cable’s digital television offerings. By self-definition, Harmony Channel aims to “offer media that uplifts the human spirit and honors viewer’s peace of mind.”

So, when it commissioned Arkenstone to compose the piece titled “The Sounds of Malibu,” it was a natural fit.

“I lived near Topanga and have family in Malibu,” the musician said. “I’ve surfed in Malibu most of my life and, sometimes, the ocean is a blue you don’t see anywhere else in the world. It is very inspirational musically.”

Arkenstone is prominently featured in the catalogue of Windham Hill, a long-time preeminent label for alternative, New Age and jazz music. His recently released CD, “Sketches From An American Journey,” can be found on Gemini Sun Records, along with a collection of New Age mood grooves called “Ambient Café,” which he released under an alter-ego moniker, Briza.

He is also producing a CD/DVD set that will include a paean to Malibu for Gemini Sun, which will be available the end of April.

“There will be some eye candy, but there will also be some real stories told within the musical composition,” Arkenstone said. “It’s a mix of live action and animation and we’ll shoot some in Malibu. It is a blast to work on.”

Despite the New Age rubric attached to Arkenstone’s music, he is not just for the tree huggers and granola-eaters or a Sunday morning yoga class. His compositions have been compared to the great American legend, Aaron Copeland, and Arkenstone’s works are known for their symphonic arrangements of voice, instrumentation and melody.

Jonathan Todd, president of Sabre Entertainment, which manages Arkenstone’s releases, said, “For a man whose message is so peaceful, David is quite the rock star. He is used to throngs of people at his concerts.”

Arkenstone laughed, “Yeah, it’s great when a teenager will come up to me with his grandparents and they both loved the music.”

Arkenstone will bring his inspirational audio journeys to a concert scheduled Dec. 21 at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza for a celebration of the Winter Solstice.

“We’ll have a mix of my own compositions and traditional holiday songs as well,” he said.

And in keeping with his message of peace for the season, Arkenstone will donate a CD of his music to the U.S. Armed Forces for every ticket he sells to the event and every CD he sells at the concert.

“The son of a friend joined the Army last year,” Arkenstone said, “and has already served one tour in Iraq. It’s one reason we wanted to make these tunes available to our troops, even more than what we already committed.”

Todd said that they have already provided more than 10,000 digital downloads to service members overseas, explaining, “This is a way for our soldiers to experience a moment of peace in their holiday season, even if they are far from home.”

Tickets for David Arkenstone’s Dec. 21 concert can be obtained through Ticket Master or at the Web site, www.davidarkenstone.com

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