…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.
“Greek Dance” is one of my earliest pieces; I believe this is one of those tunes I wrote while sitting on the bus during my tour years, like “Face in the Moonlight“…
Composed in 2002, this charming and enthusiastic work for string quartet makes playful use of the various rhythmic textures able to be derived from odd-beat patterns. Though it stands, in its spontaneity and brevity, as one of Wallin Huff’s earlier works, it remains a favorite among those who have tackled its deceptively simple intricacies.
It seems so simple, yet it’s such a challenge and a blast to play!
Earlier this year, Ryan M. Luévano invited me to include a short piece for string orchestra of my own during the debut concert of the Neue World Orchestra Project, so I decided to arrange this old quartet for the group. I really love the extra layers of color and texture it provides!
I composed this odd little quartet in 2014 for the Chamber Music Institute of So Cal, at the request of its president and founder. Specifically, she wanted something she and I could play with our electric fiddles, while two others played acoustic strings. You know how I love unusual combinations! 😉
For Acoustic Violin, Acoustic Cello, Electric 5-string Violin (with octave drop pedal), and Electric 6-string Violin (with delay and chorus pedals).
“Organic Circuitry” is a unique string quartet, pitting the acoustic violin and cello against electric 5- and 6- string violins with effects. It evokes a futuristic state of being, merging ancient instruments with new technology.
I also used the opportunity to start playing around with various combinatorial processes… You know me– I like to see how weird and yet still melodic I can get! 😀
This original work…creatively weaves the beloved Amazing Grace melody in and out of a second original tune titled “In the Forest,” evoking a meditative and melancholy sense of wandering and reflection, as if hidden from the outside world.
This string quartet was composed in 2011 at the request of Danielle Rosaria Cummins. The piece (as only “In the Forest”) existed originally as an unfinished sketch for solo piano, started some years prior. When I was requested to compose a quick-and-dirty string quartet arrangement of the traditional Amazing Grace for a formal fundraising banquet being held in two days, I decided to take this old sketch of “In the Forest” and turn it into this present string quartet.
Enjoy the performance of this haunting little work below!
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.
Composed for Ryan M. Luévano and the Neue World Orchestra Project, the 2002 string quartet “Greek Dance” has found new life as a driving work for string orchestra!!! I’m so grateful to have been given the opportunity to revisit this old little gem of a work! 🙂
Enjoy the digital demo below, and check out NWOP’s first concert on March 10 to hear the debut performance!
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…
Hey guess what? My string quartet, “Anima Mechanicae,” is going to have 3 performances by the Axiom Quartet, in October and in November!!! I’m so grateful and flattered that they thought it would be a great fit for their concerts! I’ll share details as I learn them; go support them if you can! 😀