…the [Book of I] soundtrack composed by Sarah Wallin Huff stands out as both a powerful album, taking its listener on an emotional journey of beauty, despair, and hope, as well as a fascinating study of the composer’s visceral and intellectual connection to the source material. Featuring the stellar work of musicians Darrell Peries, Caleb Barnes, Cathy Alonzo, Jenna Ford, Lainey Elizabeth White, Brett Bird, Jonatas Mostacato, Ayla Draper, and [Wallin] Huff herself, the album is a stunning collection of gorgeous, orchestral selections comprised mostly of string instruments that are, at times, vividly haunting but always entirely engrossing. [Wallin] Huff, who previously released her own album, Soul of the Machine, earlier this year, clearly has a passion and a gift for sharing every ounce of her mind, body, and soul with the listener, as if providing a warm invitation for the listener to share the same in response.
Sometimes the idea behind the music is just as interesting as the music itself…the music on this album “…explores the relationships between mechanical structures, organic beauty, and identity.” …Wallin Huff presents three unusual compositions that tackle some intriguing ideas and topics… Her music is quite complex and unusual and yet…very easy to absorb and appreciate. There’s a lot to take in here… Our favorite is the wonderfully moody and subtle “Gypsy Wanderer”…nothing short of breathtaking.
It is the third piece “The Oracle” that is the crème de la for me with its incredible depth and creative complexity. Dynamics take deep hold here with sudden bursts and calming moments. I really hear the room when flute and clarinet parts elevate along with the brilliant staccato keyboard hits. There are moments when time seems to fall apart and then strings back together in a wonderful interplay among the musicians.
Sarah’s music has a classy, understated sound, yet it is baroque and ornate, tipping the hat off to genius composers like Debussy, but also tipping the hat off experimental ideas and cinematic scores. Opening number “Intrepid” is a very dynamic composition with a unique color, almost echoing the work of modern composers like Yann Tiersen.
Weeping Willow, featuring “Michael Jung,” is one of our favorite tracks on this release. I love the romantic, dramatic high notes of the string section, as well as the timeless sound of the sparse piano melodies, almost flirting with shades of Tango, in the vein of Astor Piazzolla. A true masterpiece, with so many nuances. The album is also home to a suite extending over 3 tracks, “Leviathan of the Ancient Deep.” These songs also features ambient samples, as well as electronic elements and ornate percussions, making for a really diverse set of colors.
I don’t know if you happened to catch a glimpse of a certain Super Bowl promotional video that aired about an hour and a half before the start of the game. But if you did, you might have caught a glimpse of me playing with the CMG Music Recording orchestra on site at Warner Bros. Studio, at the famous Eastwood Scoring Stage, where all the famous composers of the Golden Age of film recorded their music!
It was a unique experience and I am so honored to have been asked to participate. 🙂
Check out the full video below, and enjoy not only the video screenshots but a few backstage shots as well!
These past few months have been indescribably fulfilling, yet chaotic, as these things usually go, lol. 😉 I’m nearly through my first semester as a music professor for Cal Poly Pomona; I’ve spent nearly every waking moment setting up and teaching my new classes! I’ve really been enjoying this adventure, and I look forward to each following experience with this wonderful school.
Naturally, as the semester draws toward a close, I’ve been itching to get back to composing and completing my upcoming album, “Legend Seekers” – I’ll be able to start getting back to these projects in just another few weeks, yay! In the meantime, I’ve been meaning to set up this blog post to showcase some of the photos and videos documenting our recording sessions for “Intrepid” and some of the other works that will appear on this upcoming album… Enjoy the gallery and impromptu videos below!
Don’t forget… if you’d like to be a Backstage Supporter of this and other future projects, visit the Backstage Community to see what perks are available–like autographed copies of scores and albums as well as your name listed on the albums you support!
A very special thanks to everybody who has patiently worked with me to make this become a reality!! <3
Satellites that study the Earth are passing through space continuously, collecting data on everything from hurricanes to the effects of drought. What if you could make contact with these orbiting spacecraft, and bring them “down to Earth?” Visitors can do exactly that [at] NASA’s Orbit Pavilion… [Orbit is] an innovative “soundscape” experience representing the movement of the International Space Station and 19 Earth Science satellites. Inside the large, shell-shaped sculpture, distinctive sounds are emitted as each satellite passes overhead…
I have always loved the sounds of space, ever since I first heard the “interstellar music” of the complete Voyager sound recordings in the ’90s. So, when I experienced the Orbit exhibit first-hand, I can’t tell you the total joy and enthrallment I felt encountering it… I tried to capture just a taste of what I was experiencing with this short video you can view below… I hope you enjoy it! ^_^
Today’s tune is another really special piece to me, with lots of good memories attached to it. ^_^
“Anima Mechanicae: Soul of the Machine” is a string quartet that I wrote in 2007, during my grad school days and toward the end of my utter obsession with Minimalism, specifically after the stylings of Philip Glass. Listening to the recording of it below, I’m sure you’ll be able to hear the similarities. :p
But this work has a story element to it, that’s near and dear to my heart. The Mechanical Star of the work is actually a character that makes her first appearance in the second book of my original Kesher Chronicles series, “Questions of Faith.”
This character, SARA (an advanced “Security Analysis and Records Archive’ malleable-Paradigm”) — over the course of the second and upcoming third books — becomes very involved in the lives of the humans around her and tries to orient herself within her constantly evolving thought-processes…
You can see why I included the following quote in the score to the quartet:
Dedicated to the computers and robots of the future, who long to dream as the humans do.
The structural details behind this almost-12 minute work include:
…moments of mechanical coldness [in the opening], gradually giving way to moments of tender and emotional beauty. Wallin Huff intentionally derived and fashioned her various rhythmic and tonal patterns throughout the work from strict mathematical relationships — to showcase that a mechanically constructed framework can give way to striking beauty on its surface, much in the way a computer program of the future might evolve into its abstract dream-state.
The sections of this single-movement work include: Mechanically, Quixotically, Pensively, With impish behavior, Tenderly, and Surreal.
This season is bringing with it a most amazing opportunity to record some of my more challenging pieces with live musicians. I have always said that I would rather hear my work done by even mediocre live players than by a computer. To be fair, of course I want to present my work accurately, too. 😉 But there’s something raw, visceral, and alivethat human players bring to the mix that a computer just cannot equal.
A couple Saturdays ago, I and four of my talented friends got together in a gorgeous, echoey church sanctuary to record the live performance of my “tarot quintet,” The Oracle.
It was a most wonderful session! There’s something about the colors and nuances of each unique instrument in the player’s hands, when it melds and mixes and (sometimes) clashes with the others, that just can’t be duplicated by a computer.
A central lesson of acoustics is that, the more instruments you have, the less the lack-of-human-nuance is noticeable in digital playback. Take my “Madrigal, for Orchestra,” for example. This recording was made with my own digital playback, with the few solo lines in the middle and at the end recorded live by myself. When a piece is written for full orchestra, the individual player’s nuance disappears into the mass of sound. So a computer can recreate this wash of sound better than it can for any kind of a chamber group, where there is only one player per part. With chamber music, everything is so open and exposed that our ears can tell when it’s not a live player on the recording.
And, wouldn’t you know it, my most favorite forces to write for are various chamber groups!! Good thing I have wonderful friends I can call upon to play my music! 🙂
Coming up next in this adventure toward a new Summer 2017 album is the April recording of my neo-Romantic work, “Of Roses and Lilies.” It calls for full string orchestra, soprano recorder, english horn, piano, small women’s choir, and soprano soloist. It’s pretty epic–it’ll be so wonderful to have an official recording of this work done! Then in May, we’ll record three final chamber works…
Lots to look forward to! Whenever you get the chance to support live musicians, please consider doing so. We do what we do because we couldn’t imagine not making music. 😉
On Feb. 11, I had the great joy of working with my talented friends, Anne Sherrill (cello), Wan-Chin Chang (piano), Virginia Figueiredo (clarinet), Tina Huynh (flute/piccolo), and James Rael (CBTTF Records) recording my complicated and epic quintet, “The Oracle“!
Enjoy some photos from the session below!…
Additionally, I have two more pieces to share, works that will also be included on this new album, expected to come out this Summer…
Aradia, La Bell Pellegrina, for Flute (or Violin), Easy Clarinet, and Piano, is a brand new piece I wrote for a friend and his son (who is studying clarinet performance). A mysterious and haunting duo, it’s based on the Italian legend of Aradia, daughter of the moon goddess Diana and Queen of the Old Religion.
Falada, for Violin, Viola, Cello, and Piano. Falada (which is Portuguese for “Spoken”) is a compilation-piece derived from two of my earliest works: The Dove (1998) and The Old Music Box (2001). Together, this work for piano and string trio (violin, viola, and cello) evokes the mood of a storyteller weaving ancient tales that remind the listener of humankind’s shared history.
“Leviathan of the Ancient Deep” is a concerto for 6-string electric violin, EWI, Synth, and orchestra.Collaborating with PARMA Recordings, we want to create a definitive recording of this challenging work, in order to share it with others.
This is a one-of-a-kind concerto that deserves to be heard! Check out the video below exploring the history behind this unique work, and hear a solo snippet from Movement 1 (“Seekers of the Legend”) played by Sarah on her cool Dragon-Violin!
If you agree that this is a work that should be shared with others, visit iSupportNewMusic.com to see how you can help. Set up a custom, subscription-based donation if you like, get exclusive, project-based announcements when you contribute, and choose from an exciting list of rewards!
Soloing on the debut performance of “Leviathan of the Ancient Deep”
And, of course, the biggest thing you can do is spread the word about this project to your circle of connections – never underestimate the power of sharing! 🙂
I FINALLY got a real solid start on my new violin duet I’ve been commissioned to write!! It’s super intriguing!!! I originally thought I’d add a piano part, but I don’t know now… I may just go Ravel-violin/cello-duet-style and have the two violins remain by themselves. Or, if I do add a piano part, I want to have it wait a while to come in… Can’t wait to see where this goes and how it unfolds! ?