O Mistress Moon
This collection of Canadian, lunar, and outer space-inspired solo piano music is designed to elicit introspection. Calm yet wide in emotional scope, it aims to provoke thought and appeal to those looking for a musical meditative journey. There is a therapeutic bent in the album’s soundscape that yearns to ease stress during the global pandemic.
Each composition is linked to a monthly full moon, connecting with both folkloric and Mi’kmaw descriptions. As the character of each full moon relates to nature and the changing seasons, I’ve connected each piece to a moon by the composition title, intention, and its overall atmosphere.
The composers are primarily from the Eastern Woodlands of Canada; they are artists I admire greatly and, in some cases, know personally. I have also included two influential but now deceased composers who have shaped our musical history and development in Canada/ Kanata.
I was honoured to have David Chapman and Cathy LeBlanc from Mi’kmaw Moons guide me with this project. The information they generously shared influenced the recording’s structure and was a source of inspiration for the compositions written for the album.
My hope is that you, the listener, find solace and wonderment within this collection.
- In the Falling Dark 1
Released in conjunction with the Snow Moon (February), Nova Scotia-based composer Derek Charke’s 2014 composition was selected for its chorale opening, with slow unwinding improvised sections that have an icy tone fitting for the season.
- The Dreamer
« The Dreamer » by Toronto composer Kevin Lau fits with the Harvest Moon or, for the Mi’kmaw, the Mate Calling Moon (September). With a hopeful and positive vibe and rhythmic heartbeat, it explores the dream world, or as Lau describes, “the freeing of oneself from the constraints of the physical world.”
SOPHIE CARMEN ECKHARDT-GRAMATTÉ
- Nocturne (1936)
Sophie-Carmen Eckhardt-Gramatté (1899-1974) was a mostly self-taught, Russian-born Canadian composer. She was also a virtuoso pianist and violinist. « Nocturne » is a piece she wrote in her childhood, around the age of 13, that she revised and expanded while living in Berlin in 1936. There are influences of Chopin and Schumann but this is clearly the work of an expressive and independently-minded artist. I selected this work for the Pink Moon or Birds Laying Eggs Moon (April).
- Nocturne 1
- Nocturne 2
- Nocturne 3
Atlantic Canadian composer Sandy Moore’s three Nocturnes, written in 1974 while awaiting the birth of his first child, echo the Flower Moon (May), Strawberry Moon (June), and Sturgeon or Berry Ripening Moon (August). Although inherently classical in style, the pieces have the temperament of shifting thematic and variation statements, underscored by murmurs of calm and agitation.
« Nocturne 1 », lyrical and meditative, is reminiscent of Erik Satie’s « Nocturnes. »
Moore describes « Nocturne 2 » as a “broody” slice of life in the vein of a nighttime fantasy.
« Nocturne 3 » is like a dream—listlessly lyrical at first, then surges of splendour and lurking uncertainty, always settling back to the calmer dreamy state, and simply ending.
- Nocturne, Op. 97
- Rivers Freezing Over Moon
Richard Gibson is Prince Edward Island born, and now based in New Brunswick. His « Nocturne, Op. 97 » is evocative of nocturnal mystery, introspection, and the revelation of hidden meaning, in the same manner that the obscurity of nightfall can be conducive to personal introspection of the Maple Sugar Moon (March).
« Espaces » is a study in resonance and overtones featuring long damper pedals and frequent fermatas to immerse the listener in the “ringing” of the piano strings. The feeling of outer space where the moon, the stars, and our planets reside is represented in the spaciousness of the music for the Cold Moon (December) and the eponymous Rivers Freezing Over Moon (November). « Espaces » was written especially for this project and conveys opposing features of the beautiful austerity of the approaching cold season.
- Gliese 581c
Nova Scotia-born Emily Doolittle wrote Gliese 581c following the discovery of the super-Earth planet in 2007. This work was released in conjunction with the Birds Shedding Feathers Moon (July). Doolittle was also inspired by the transmission of messages sent to the new planet, due to arrive in 2029, which evoke the same marvel as the rising of the midsummer moon. This piece imagines us looking at the planet from space, watching it turn, and projecting our wonder, imagination, and hopes onto it.
- Frost Moon
Amy Brandon’s composition « Frost Moon » is
in conjunction with the Wolf Moon (January), or as it is known in Mi’kma’ki, the Frost Fish Spawning Moon. Brandon captured this freezing effect of frost in sound with “a violent sudden crystallization, followed by intricate lattice-work, growing and overlapping in self-same patterning.”
- Image Astrale
Jean Coulthard (1908-2000) was a Canadian composer whose influence permeated the West Coast classical music scene for much of the 20th century. « Image Astrale » was written in 1980. This composition uses contrasting sections of celestial harmonies mixed with sparkling yet driving staccato figurations and low tone clusters that take the listener on a substantial journey to another dimension. I found this composition suited the Animal Fattening Moon or Hunter’s Moon (October) due to its adventurous spirit and largesse of form.