Fiona Joy (Hawkins) – New Album – Story of Ghosts
Having won many awards for her two previous solo piano albums, Fiona is destined to do the same with Story of Ghosts.
Fiona’s third solo piano album takes her fans on her journey of the past year of her life as she deals with a harrowing year in 2017 and makes no attempts to sugarcoat the emotional’s. The year included many friends and family members getting seriously sick, dying or going insane.!!
She bares it all over the course of these mostly grey-toned melancholy and vulnerable pieces, that draw on her classical background and impressionistic modern yet melodic composition.
‘There is a little madness in the music I write, it only pops out of the calmness momentarily, but enough to know that there is uncertainty in everything we hear, feel and experience. It’s much more classical and very connected to my roots” says Fiona .
“There’s a lot of emotion in it, that part was challenging. But when I get feedback from my fans that I’m touching their lives, and in some way making a difference, that makes it worthwhile.”
She uses the piano to weave interconnected tales with similar motifs – She opens the album with the uplifting and just whimsical enough “Song for Dunnie,” which she wrote for the funeral of Annette (Dunnie) Crossley, one of her best friends and business partner in her company Little Hartley Music. The lushly flowing piece represents a life full of vibrant brightness, good humour and joy.
“Story of Angels” moody hypnosis that leads to attempts to dance and then sudden dream-dashing stops into “Story of Ghosts” the deepest tale is told by the third story song. The contemplative “Story of Insanity” which alternates shards of light and night in a romp of anger tempered by gentle understanding. “Contemplating (Solo) which find Fiona deep in thought, seeking answers in the high notes as tension builds. “Blue Dream” whose high and low dynamics indicate mood swings that shift on a dime during crises. “The White Light” perhaps a place between worlds where high and low notes battle it out for our mortal hearts.
Fiona ‘s choice to work with producer Cookie Marenco reflects Fiona’s appreciation for high quality audio. “Even CD quality is unsatisfying when you’ve heard DSD or SACD, especially when played on a high-end system” says Fiona.
Fans of FLOW, the recently launched hit new age group featuring Fiona, Will Ackerman, Lawrence Blatt and Jeff Oster, will recognise the closing track “Before the Light” as the beautifully rendered foundation of “Arrival,” the opening track on FLOW’s self-titled debut. In the FLOW version, the darker edges of the piece get subsumed into a lighter hearted grooving vibe. Here it’s allowed to flourish in the shadows, exploring the heavy mysteries of life’s pain that occur before the healing – and wondering along the way if it will ever come.
Fiona recalls asking Ackerman once “What would happen if I ever got happy? Would the creativity dry up?” – since she’s built her artistry and fan base on her incredible musical embrace of sadness.
“No, Fiona, you will just start writing happier music.” He said, surprised at the answer “Maybe down the road, I’ll make a few happy songs”.
But for now, especially on Story of Ghosts we can enjoy the musical beauty and grace that she shares while working through the obstacles to make peace with the sorrow life has thrown her.
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Rachel LaFond – New Album – Encounters of the Beautiful Kind
Come along on a powerful musical journey inspired by Rachel LaFond’s experience, of being a stranger in a new country. New Zealand to be precise where she now calls home.
This beautiful solo Piano Album was recorded in high resolution audio at her home and mastered by the golden ears of Mike Bloemendahl.
The music explores universal human experiences: feelings of loneliness, worries about not being good enough, and the evolution we undergo as existing friendships change or fade while new connections spring to life.
This journey culminates in the realisation that as we bear each other up and connect with one another, we make the world a more beautiful place for all of us.
About Rachel LaFond:
Rachel LaFond is an American composer and pianist now residing in New Zealand who has been steeped in musicality her entire life. Her appreciation of the piano began when she was a toddler as her mother (a piano teacher) played with a young Rachel on her lap. She began formal lessons at age five, and by the time Rachel was eleven, she began teaching lessons herself. She lived in Vienna and studied piano performance there as a teenager, then returned home to major in piano at the University of Washington. After university, she continued to teach and perform professionally, but for years Rachel didn’t realise she had a talent for writing music hidden inside herself until David.
David she had met just weeks ago. Rachel couldn’t stop thinking about him on one rainy autumn afternoon, everything changed. Gazing out the window of her teaching studio, Distraction transformed into inspiration, and by the end of that evening she had finished her first original piece, Loving in the Rain. This first piece stood alone for a while as Rachel got swept up in life’s adventures: Rachel and David got married, quit their jobs, and embarked on a year of long-term travel around the world.
Rachel’s music is inspired by, and engages with, the full depth of human experience. Whether she’s capturing the heady wooziness of falling in love or responding to the chest-cracking pain of Barcelonans who suffered in the terror attack of summer 2017, her pieces are unflinching and compel the listener to lean into the feeling of the song for just a moment more. Rachel’s drive to bring beauty, light, and kindness to dark places through her music lends a striking sense of purpose to her creative work. And she’s just getting started.
All recorded in Auckland, New Zealand in Rachel’s home.
Mastering by Mike Bloemendahl
Connect with Rachel LaFond
Loren Evarts newest album Home Again
Home Again is the 6th original album, of this amazing contemporary pianist. It revisits several pieces previously recorded by Loren in the 1980’s, and eight new ones. It was produced by Grammy award winner Will Ackerman (Windham Hill Records) at his Imaginary Road studio in West River valley, Windham County, Vermont and was engineered by Tom Eaton.
Featuring Grammy-winning artists and Grammy-nominated Artists Eugene Friesen on cello (Paul Winter, Trio Globo), Rhonda Larson on many types of flutes (Paul Winter, Ventus) and Jeff Haynes on percussion (Pat Metheny, Pete Seeger), bassist Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel and King Crimson).
Besides Piano, Loren Evarts has been known to perform by singing, trombone, hammered dulcimer and organ.
Loren has performed professionally in the Connecticut area of USA in a variety of musical situations for over 40 years. He has been grateful to have been involved in performances with artists such as Dave Weckl (Chick Corea), Gerry Neiwood (Chuck Mangione), Everett Silver (Chuck Mangione), Mike Davis (Rolling Stones), Danny Stiles (Bill Watrous), Fred Vigdor (Average White Band), Rhonda Larson (Paul Winter Consort).
About Loren Evarts:
I was in first grade when I heard a fellow classmate play the piano, and I said, “Hey, I want to do that, too.” Of course, I had no idea that you had to practice, which made me think twice about my choice. But due to frequent beatings from my mom, I persisted, Partially kidding!
I started playing classical piano at age 7, but like a lot of kids, I started listening to pop radio in middle school. Fortunately, I was allowed to stick in a few popular tunes in my lessons along with the serious music. In high school I started to get influenced by jazz. My biggest influences were bands like Chicago and Tower of Power, Elton John, James Taylor, Carole King, Jazz singer Al Jarreau, and jazz pianists like Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock and Liz Story.
What can a crowd expect at a live show?
My music is probably best described as a mix of new age, jazz, classical and world. It’s piano-based but sometimes I will add a percussionist, bassist or woodwind player for concerts.
What are your future plans for 2018/2019?
Well, I am an American so, like many of my fellow citizens, I am looking to survive until 2020(enough on politics). But otherwise, At my stage of the game, I just want to put out a good product, and I hope to write some new material now that my newest album has been released. And that means I have to sit down at the piano and start! I am always gratified when people enjoy my music. I no longer crave being a big star. It’s nice being in this place.
FLOW: A DYNAMIC NEW AGE IN MUSIC
Will Ackerman, Fiona Joy Hawkins, Lawrence Blatt and Jeff Oster Take a Open Approach to Musical Discovery, Embracing Friendship While Building Organic Songs for their eponymous new release–FLOW.
Forty years after Windham Hill became a catalyst for the global musical phenomenon, its bountiful legacy of best-selling solo works (George Winston, Liz Story, Alex DeGrassi, Michael Hedges) and Grammy-winning ensembles (Shadowfax)–extends into a truly new age with FLOW–a new four-piece ensemble comprised of Ackerman and three of today’s most acclaimed independent artists, Australian pianist Fiona Joy Hawkins, acoustic guitarist Lawrence Blatt and flugelhorn master Jeff Oster. All in, FLOW members have accumulated literally dozens of accolades, from GRAMMY® Awards, ZMRs, IMAs, IAMAs and a catalog of #1 albums in the genre.
FLOW, on Blatt’s LMB Music label, came together to record deep in the West River Valley in Southern Vermont, at Imaginary Road Studios, the longtime creative home base of legendary Grammy-winning acoustic guitarist Will Ackerman, the original founder of Windham Hill; the 282-acre property in Windham County has become a hotbed of acoustic excellence over the past 25 years.
Ackerman shared his thoughts on the process of recording with FLOW, saying – “There was a moment in the process of making FLOW with Fiona, Lawrence and Jeff when I felt a hint of panic that my pieces were being altered and transformed into something very different from what I would have done with them on a Will Ackerman record. It was in the moment just after this thought that I realized that FLOW was actually working… that I was experiencing real synergy. The group had become a creative entity unto itself and four dear friends had gathered to create something beyond anything they could have created on their own.Experiments don’t always work. This one worked!?”
As officially announced, the concept of FLOW had its origins in 2015, when Blatt invited Fiona and Oster to join him at Imaginary Road to create an album inspired by the iconic Windham Hill sound and ensembles. Ackerman had already produced several of Fiona Joy Hawkin’s and Oster’s albums plus Blatt’s recordings The Color of Sunshine, Emergence, and Latitudes and Longitudes featuring Oster on horn; Blatt and Fiona met while recording a special project on Blue Coast Music.
Oster remembers that each of them brought two or three songs to the project to which they added their parts under the guidance of Ackerman’s longtime production partner at Imaginary Road, Tom Eaton. The group likens Eaton’s multi-faceted role in the success of the project as that of The Fifth Beatle.
Reflecting on FLOW’s debut project, Oster says, “If you look back into any time of human existence, this need for peaceful breathing and listening has always and will always be deeply important. It’s not only New Age music, it is EVERY AGE music!”
FLOW made their official debut with an album release celebration at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall on October 6, 2017. The group is booking concert dates this Spring, including a featured performance at the Zone Music Awards on Saturday May 12th at Roussell Hall in New Orleans; they are nominated for both Album of the Year and Best Contemporary Instrumental Album.
“By Sari Cohen”
“These are four musicians who are all self-sufficient in their talents. They’re brilliant at making albums that are unique and musically successful as soloists. The lovely surprise is that they, we, all managed with grace and ease to come together and create something new and different from anything any of us had ever done before,” Grammy-winner Will Ackerman explains.
“By Angel Romero”
Flow is a supergroup of musicians who have been involved with New Age music for many years. The term New Age is used to describe a wide range of genres, from easy listening acoustic music to electronic meditation music. In this case, Flow performs peaceful and ethereal instrumental music with smooth jazz, folk, gliding ambient sounds and classical music elements.
Link to USA Tour Dates and Tickets
FLOW hope to tour Australia at select locations in 2019
Read Tom Eaton’s new Q&A talking about his albums Abendromen and most recent one indesterren!
What inspired you to become a composer and who are your early influences?
I started playing piano in high school around 1987 and got into synthesizers at the same time. Mostly I was listening to the pop music of the time, Peter Gabriel, Eurythmics, Thomas Dolby, but also Tangerine Dream, Vangelis and Jean Michel Jarre. Through a friend I was led to Windham Hill…Will Ackerman, Michael Hedges and George Winston, and those more acoustic albums balanced the music coming from the Private Music label that was releasing amazing electronic work. So my piano playing was being influenced by the sequences of electronic music and people like Winston, and my electronic work was being influenced by the ambiance and sparseness of the Windham Hill records, which was similar in use of space to what Patrick O’ Hearn was doing at the time. Probably the deepest and most lasting influences were Tangerine Dream and Tim Story.
Tell us a little about how you write, how do the songs come? What gets you going creatively?
Both of my albums that were released in 2017 came from a huge emotional upheaval and life change I was going through. “Abendromen” was a way to process the deep sadness and loss I was feeling, and “Indesterren” was more about me finding my footing in a new chapter of my life. My music frequently starts at the piano, even if the piano doesn’t play a huge part in the finished material. For much of what I doing these days, the first thing I do is create an ambient electric guitar loop as a textural landscape for the piece and then work the melody over that shifting drone. Once I have the bones of melody, usually drawn from one of the piano improvs I’ve got stashed away on video, I start weaving electric guitars, bass, percussion and synthesizers in and around the melody until things seem to find a sense of cohesion.
Your bio mentions that you’ve been a recording engineer since 1993. Tell us more about that?
I opened my first commercial studio in 1993, catering mostly to the folk and singer-songwriter scene around Boston/Cambridge, MA. For seventeen years I produced albums in that genre before a chance opportunity led me to Will Ackerman’s Imaginary Road studio in Vermont when Will was in search of an engineer. We hit it off and in the last six years, we’ve produced more than fifty albums together for clients from all over the world. We record at Will’s studio in the mountains of Vermont and then I mix and master at my own studio where I am usually working on some of my own music in addition to the Imaginary Road albums.
What is the first record you bought and why?
I was dj-ing friends parties starting in sixth grade, with my own 45 collections, so it must have been some pop hits of the time. Prince, or Men Without Hats or Hall and Oates, maybe. I definitely remember the first three CDs I bought: Tangerine Dream-Tyger, U2-The Joshua Tree, The Police- Every Breath You Take, The Singles.
What current Australian(or Local) acts inspire you? Ditto for international acts?
I’ve done a bunch of work now with Fiona Joy, both on her Signature Synchronicity album and in her capacity as a member of the FLOW group with Will Ackerman, Jeff Oster and Lawrence Blatt. Working with Fiona is a blast…she is fearless and completely committed in the studio. I adore Damon Albarn’s recent work…his “Everyday Robots” album is brilliant. There’s a rock band from the states called House of Heroes that is amazing, their newest album “Colors” is getting a lot of play here these days!
Tell us a little about your music and what a crowd can expect at a live show?
My music sits somewhere between “pretty” new age, full on electronic music and ambient music…with some electric guitars thrown in for good measure. I wander in and out of using rhythm parts…some songs are percussion driven and others float on those beds of swirling electric guitar. When I’ve played live in the past few years it has been solo piano… the albums are too textural for me to pull them off in concert by myself, so sitting at the piano seems like a direct and familiar way to introduce at least part of my voice to an audience.
Favourite artists of all time?
David Sylvian, The Blue Nile, Tim Story, Tangerine Dream, Cocteau Twins, Kate Bush, Kate Rusby and Will Ackerman!
Where do you see artist careers heading?
Well, it’s hard to see the financial return side of the business improving anytime soon, but for those that want to be out on the road playing there is still a living to be made. It’s a different music industry model now that the internet allows music to be moved nearly instantly all over the world. I still love making albums that are collections of songs circling around a central theme or feeling, but the world seems to have returned to a more singles-based model, though of course vinyl is coming back to some degree, so there are music listeners who do want to immerse themselves in a longer experience, which is a good thing. I hope that somehow the streaming world comes around to a more artist friendly system, where fans can listen without spending too much money and musicians can get more than fractions of pennies per spin.
What are your future plans for 2017/2018?
I have three albums of my own in the works right now, and the constant cycle of albums that Will and I are working on. So my plans are to sit right here in front of my mixing console and make some music!
Want to listen to Tom’s latest album? Find it here:
Interested in what else Tom Eaton is up to? Check out his socials!
Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Rebecca Harrold has spent many years working as a pianist and singer. Since moving to the Boston area she worked extensively with The Company Theater, the Voice Studio of Robert Honeysucker, and recently with Burklyn Ballet of Vermont. A true collaborative musician her abilities and willingness to play and sing diverse styles has taken her to Europe, primarily Italy and Greece. Rebecca recently completed production on ‘The River of Life‘ with Windham Hills founder and producer, Will Ackerman. Available everywhere.
Watch the video for her song ‘We Belong Together‘ here: youtube.com/watch?v=XgP6CGxc2DU
Find the album here:
New Album ‘Dividing The Darkness’ available NOW on iTunes
At this point in his ever evolving career, pianist and composer, Steve has taken it to the next level with the release of his stunning new album, “Dividing The Darkness,” To fulfill his creative vision for this project, Steve chose to work with one of the premier new age and contemporary instrumental producers in the world; the Grammy winning founder of the legendary Windham Hill Records, Mr. Will Ackerman. Along with Will’s roster of world-class studio musicians at Imaginary Road Studios, Steve has created an album that has garnered critical acclaim from highly regarded reviewers in the genre, who have described it as having “an astonishing level of sophistication, intensity, and heartfelt emotional expressivity,” In fact, the maestro Ackerman himself refers to the emotional range heard in Steve’s recording as: “a testament to the resilience of the human soul and the power of hope,” And in Steve’s own words: “When one’s talent is realized and pursued in a positive way, its limits may be nonexistent,”
QnA with Foghorn Media
Foghorn Media: What inspired you to become a pianist/composer? Who are your early influences?
Steve Rivera: I have always had a passion for music. I grew up with music in the home. My musical interests comes from several places. My family was and is very musical. My dad plays piano and sings, my older brother Robert (who passed away 6 years ago) was active playing piano, and one of my younger brothers plays piano and is a proficient guitar player. I first started playing music at a very young age. My dad often tells of a story that when I was about 5 years old he came home from work and I was really excited to show him a new song that I wrote.
FM: Tell us a little about how you write. How do the songs come? What gets you going creatively?
SR: Well in regards to how I write songs, it all depends on why I sit down and what I am trying to write. Other times I will just have a tune rattling around in my head and then I will sit down and work on it. I may just be moved by some emotion (happiness, peacefulness, anger or disappointment) and sit down and want to express those emotions through music.
FM: Your bio mentions “you took a break from music to work for a professional ice hockey team” us what went on there and more?
SR: Well back in the mid 90’s I had went to my first ice hockey game and fell in love with it. Growing up in Southern California I surfed and skated my whole life, but I had never ice skated before, let alone play ice-hockey. I started playing ice-hockey and shortly after that I had the opportunity to work for the Los Angeles Kings Hockey team as one of the assistant equipment managers. It was during the Wayne Gretzky years.
FM: What is the first record you bought and why?
SR: Oh wow. If my memory serves me correctly it was Iron Maiden’s ‘Number of the Beast,’ I really liked the album cover.
FM: What current Australian acts inspire you?
SR: Well obviously my current favorite Oz artist has to be Fiona Joy.
FM: Tell us a little about your music and what a crowd can expect at a live show ?
SR: I describe ‘Dividing The Darkness’ as “retrained simplicity that is emotionally moving,” Being that I was classically trained I can easily move up and down the piano to “show off” how good I am. But with ‘Dividing The Darkness’ I wanted to create music that was moving, flowing, and open. Knowing that I was going to have award winning musicians included on the album, I really wanted to leave them room too. So while my album is definitely piano driven, I have always thought of ‘Dividing The Darkness’ as a musical whole, so much more than just piano.
FM: Favourite artists of all time?
FM: Favourite film?
SR: Wow. There are so many. A wide variety from, ‘The Usual Suspects’ to ‘Blazzing Saddles’ and ‘The Princess Bride’ to ‘Awakenings’ and ‘As Good As it Gets,’
FM: Favourite book?
SR: Les Miserable by Victor Hugo
FM: What are your future plans for 2016/2017?
SR: That is a really hard question that I don’t think I can give a knowledgeable answer too. I would really like to see my music move forward, but I realize that while I will do everything in my power to be present and do what I can to move things forward at the end of the day it is really not up to me. There are so many things that happen in life that I have learned no matter how much I plan or prepare life can and does take turns of its own. I am just really excited about finding out what the future has in store.
UPDATE: Fiona’s previous album “Signature – Solo” has won the ZMR Award for Best Solo Piano Album! To get a copy of the album click the link below: https://itunes.apple.com/signature-solo
Fiona Joy’s much anticipated new album “Signature – Synchronicity” is now available!
Signature – Synchronicity is the perfect bookend to Fiona Joy’s 2015 project ‘Signature-Solo’, which spent several months in the coveted #1 spot on the ZMR Airplay Charts and released in numerous formats via Blue Coast Records, a pioneering audiophile label. Along with the new album, Fiona presents several high-quality videos, visual memes, and pre-order perks all accessible via her website at www.FionaJoy.com.
Fiona originally imagined the project as a personal expression of how the deteriorating “signature” bone in her left hand was affecting her ability to share her life’s work. This evolved into modern fairytales that feature magic, imagination and the world we escape into.
“It’s interesting to grow up through your own music,” Fiona Joy says. “The early albums are about my own life, drawing on the past. Mostly this album is looking outside myself and exploring other subjects – in this case, fairy tale themes – and yet somehow they all come back to my own experience. It’s a circular thing…truly Synchronicity.”
This album was recorded and produced with the team at Imaginary Road Studios in Vermont and many of Fiona’s favorite instrumentalists; some recording was also done at Crash Symphony Productions in Sydney. One of the many highlights of the recording process for Fiona was the opportunity to record on an Australian-made Stuart & Sons piano. A few people Fiona found herself lucky enough to work with include producer Will Ackerman (Founder Windham Hill), Tom Eaton, and James Englund. Additionally, the album features artists such as Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel), Rebecca Daniel (Ex ACO), Marc Shulman (Suzanne Vega), Eugene Friesen (Paul Winter Consort), Jeff Haynes (Pat Metheny), Jeff Oster, Paul Jarmin, Premik Tubbs, Borbala Bodonyi, her son Nick Hawkins, and many others.
Fiona Joy Hawkins is poised to move into stardom and we have only to watch to see it happen”
- Will Ackerman (Founder Windham Hill Records)
And upcoming Launches to include –
This April sees a unique concert and film viewing for the official album release of Signature – Synchronicity by Fiona Joy at Burwood Music Centre in Melbourne for both the public and media. BMC is a recording studio that also has a small state of the art film theatre. Meet members of the production team involved in the project, the film-makers, the piano maker, and the piano producer. Award winning Australian artist Fiona Joy will perform tracks from her new album Signature – Synchronicity.
Along with three performances across the action packed weekend, the album reveal also features videos of six of the songs made by four different filmmakers. Of the filmmakers is a retired NASA Senior Flight Engineer who used NASA footage to bring Fiona’s song ‘Calling Earth’ to life. The event also includes a meet and greet with Wayne Stuart of world renown Australian Stuart & Sons pianos – the inventors of a revolutionary new piano design used in classical concerts all over the world.
1. Saturday April 30th - Early afternoon. Watch the video clips, chat with the piano maker (Wayne Stuart), the producer (James Englund), the film-makers (four companies) Including NASA and ISS Footage, and a private concert opportunity with Fiona Joy.
2. Saturday April 30th - Evening cocktail event. Watch the videos, meet the filmmakers, the piano maker, and the piano producer.
3. Sunday May 1st – Mid-afternoon Matinee concert and video viewing. Additionally, there will be a fundraiser for Motor Neuron Disease.
Media are invited to all of the above but specifically to the Saturday afternoon
Please contact below if you would like to attend as seating is limited.
“Fiona Joy is a TRUE artist, constantly growing, Signature – Synchronicity is the latest expression of her prodigious talent, I urge you to check it out.”
- Bob Ludwig, Gateway Mastering