…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.
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.
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.
Running at just over 4 minutes, this dramatic, challenging chamber work for solo viola and piano recounts the emotions that course through Edgar Allen Poe’s classic poem, “The Raven,” with modern, neoromantic flair.
As of right now, I only have a midi demo; please take it with a grain of salt. 🙂 Soon, however, I should have at least a video of its live debut performance…
Our first new composition of the new year is a 2013 work for solo soprano, women’s choir, piano, and string orchestra, with english horn and soprano recorder.
Completed in 2013, Of Roses and Lilies is “A Romantic Expression Based on King Solomon’s Song of Songs.” Flirting with musical and dramatic elements from Medieval Europe to the ancient Middle East and Greek Theatre, this work features the solo soprano in the role of The Woman. She expresses her love, devotion, and delight toward her Lover while the Daughters of Jerusalem — as with that of the collective commentary of a Greek chorus — listen and engage with The Woman in her tales touting the glories of her Beloved.
The work is in three major sections following the expressive and fluid introduction: the first in A Minor, introducing the characters and their vivid emotions; the second in A Major, during which The Woman shares a tale of her Lover calling her to escape with him into the night… “For the winter is past and the rain gone…” —when for a moment she hesitates, she wonders if she is too late, only to find that he is still there waiting for her, encouraging her with the sweet words of his continued adoration toward her; the third section returns to the original themes in A Minor, yet gains an expression of great power and fervency as The Woman’s love for her Beloved utterly transforms her.
Here’s some cool background trivia for you: I actually originally created this work (for piano and all the voices without the strings and winds) several years prior… Maybe as far back as 2003-ish?? And this was during the time I was still writing everything by hand, with pencil on paper! After it sat around for 10 more years or so, I took another look at it and decided to polish it up… It was just too charming to allow it to disappear into obscurity. And then, as I worked on it, I decided I needed more instruments to really flesh it out the way it was meant to be… 😉
You can hear it below, featuring one of my former composition students, Ayla Draper-Lippincott, on the solo voice part.
“Of Roses and Lilies” can be performed by an intermediate-advanced ensemble. Get the sheet music here! And stay tuned for our new work of next week…
Check out the awesome little concert I’ll be doing with pianist, Lydia Wu, Friday night, Jan 5, 2018! We’re so looking forward to playing this charming music for you… Featuring musical sweets from Fauré, Elgar, Amy Beach…and even Yours Truly… ?
This little song for mezzo-soprano, string quartet, and piano was written back in 2002. I recall originally composing its melody and words by hand while on one of my music tours (“Pittsburgh Melody” was another such song, written while we were, quite literally, driving through Pittsburgh…).
In 2003 I took a chance and entered “Face in the Moonlight” into that year’s BMI John Lennon Song Writing Contest and surprised and thrilled to find that it was selected as a State Finalist Winner! It was certainly a boost of encouragement to me. 🙂 Likewise, some years later, a friend of mine who was acting as a missionary in Israel wrote me a note to let me know that she had introduced her congregation to this song, and that it had become a favorite.
I hope you also find enjoyment, listening to this charming tune. 🙂
“Face in the Moonlight” can be performed by anyone with intermediate ability. Get the sheet music here! And stay tuned for our featured work next week…
Right now, the album is only available in DVD and Blu Ray formats, but the downloadable mp3s should be available soon. Get your copy here!
“The word Paroketh (PRKTh) refers to the Four Elements: Peh (Water), Resh (Air), Kaph (Fire), and Tau (Earth). It is the Veil of the Temple before the Holy of Holies… a veil made up of the four classical elements of the human body” (Dan Sewell Ward, Feb 2007). In the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, the “Veil of Paroketh” lies between the middle branches of intention, or consciousness, and the lowest branches of our physical reality. Everything “above” Paroketh’s Veil emerges from our conscious decisions and beyond… from the past stories and experiences that help shape our intentions to act as we choose in the world.
A vintage aura of story and myth envelops this intimate collection of chamber music. For example, “Falada” — Portuguese for “speaking” or “discourse” — brings to mind the role storytellers of old played in their communities, passing down vital history and life lessons to the young. “Weeping Willow” recalls emotional whirlwinds of despair, hope, and passion — emotions common to us all. “Forgotten Melody” seeks deep within the soul to uncover that which was once hidden. And the three diverse works — “Of Roses and Lilies,” “Aradia, La Bella Pellegrina,” and “The Oracle” — tell the stories of their respective characters: ancient tales that continue to impact our modern culture.
May we embrace our past stories to uncover the commonality inherent to all humanity.
We’re doing it– We’re gonna record “Of Roses and Lilies” (my beautiful, neo-Romantic work for Soprano soloist, women’s choir, and small orchestra), this April!!!
And, I want to pay our small orchestra for their work; please consider pitching in, and choose from awesome rewards! Like, getting your name & PHOTO in the Album notes, getting a signed score of the work, getting the finished & signed album, choosing free albums from my existing discography…
This campaign ends March 12th!! Please check it out, and spread the word! We all appreciate your help! 😀
At last, the epic song for Soprano, Women’s Chorus, Soprano Recorder, English Horn, Piano, and String Orchestra is COMPLETE! And joins the ranks of the four new pieces I’ve completed this year alone, interestingly enough….
A little history: This work was actually first written approximately back in 2002 or 2004 or so. It was originally only for soprano, piano, and two-part women’s chorus. But it hadn’t sat well with me, as it just didn’t quite communicate all the powerful potential that it could… So, after “doodling” around with it for a bit in the interim, I finally settled on the instrumental forces listed above, and from then on I ran ahead with full momentum and excitement, seeing it through to its glorious finish!
Enjoy the rough demo recording below, and look forward to future performances and proper recordings of it in the near future! 😉
I worked out the (typically complicated) chord structure/progressions and the finished piano part for the middle “bridge-like” section (that comes next after where the present demo recording ends)…. Thus, with the framework now finished, I can finish orchestrating that section next… Then that means, I’m at least 2/3rds of the way done with the piece!!!!
It’s taking on a BEAUTIFUL shape!! I can’t wait to share it when I’m done!!!!