Music

SIMPLE PRAYERS FOR CHALLENGING TIMES

Rita Harvey & Peter Danish

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ABOUT THE SONGS: 

This Little Light of Mine (the Sun) - one of the world’s best-loved spirituals.  When I heard NASA’s recordings of the Sun, this came to mind.  It features the actual sounds of the Sun's solar wind and planetary vibration as recorded by NASA as its accompaniment!  

Panis Angelicus - a beloved Latin text for generations.   The ubiquitous Franck version has long been part of Catholic services.   To me, however, as beautiful as it was, it never quite sounded as joyful as the text suggested, literally: "Bread from Heaven".   I tried to create a more joyful setting for the beautiful text.  

The Lord’s Prayer has been set to music countless times, almost always with great respect and reserve.  To me , the prayer always felt more loving than the music suggested so I wanted to try to set it in a warmer, more tender and loving context than we’ve typically heard.  

The Prayer of St. Francis - another selection where the popular settings of the prayer always felt more reverential than joyful.    These very special words always called out to me for a more exuberant and effervescent setting than the ones we’ve often heard.  The Deerfield School of Mountainside Children’s Chorus sing on the track and they knocked it out of the park!  

Alleluia - Faure’s Pavanne is surely one of the most sublime melodies ever composed.  The word “Alleluia,” the quintessential expression of praise, was the word that cried to be set to this music.  

Shalom Aleichem (Peace be upon you) the spoken greeting in Hebrew, meaning "peace be upon you," is also a traditional song sung by Jews on Friday night, signaling the beginning of the Sabbath and welcoming the angels who will bless the house and the meal on the eve of the Sabbath.  The familiar melody by Israel Goldfarb can hardly be improved upon.  We set in in a fresh new arrangement.  

Slavite Gospoda (Psalm 135) this traditional Orthodox Chant is usually performed by male voices, often by deep voiced basses.  I thought it would be interesting to hear a female voice sing all the parts.   So we hear Rita humming all the accompaniment herself, and singing the ravishing traditional melody as well as all the mystical drone-like harmonies.  

Ave Maria – No sacred text has been set to music more often than the Ave Maria.  Countless versions have become part of the classical canon of literature.  This version feature Rita singing two-part harmony supported by the Damprog Choir of Chile and the Elisabeth Choir of Poland.  

Anyway (Mother Teresa’s Prayer) – Mother Teresa's prayer is surely one of most beautiful prayers of modern times, and some of the most sound advice for our troubled times.  I was extremely surprised that no one had ever put it to music.   When I start to set it to music, I realized why!  The odd sentence length and changing meter of her verses was extremely challenging - but certainly worth the effort! 

Rumi - The great 13th century Muslim Poet Rumi wrote some of the world’s most beautiful poetry, filled with brilliant wisdom that has more than stood the test of time.   For this song, I selected and incorporated stanzas from several poems and wove them thematically together to create a joyful and uplifting song of hope.  

Invitation to Sing – world-renown, mezzosoprano Stephanie Blythe is more than one of the world's greatest singers - she is an accomplished poet as well.  Recently she wrote an inspiring poem entitled: “An Invitation.”  As I read the poem, I literally heard music.  I called her and asked permission to put it to music.  She mentioned that no less than the great William Bolcom asked to put the poem to music as well!  I was intimidated, but Stephanie encouraged me to go forth. And we are so thrilled with the results.