I love Christmas piano music. But I could never find just the right meditative, contemplative timbre that matched my frame of mind around the turning of the year. So I decided to write some, and the creative journey of making my latest CD began.
William Faulkner famously said that he only writes when inspiration strikes. “Fortunately,” he continued, “she strikes every morning at 9 am sharp.” For the last three months I could say that inspiration hit me every night at 8:30 pm, sharp. That was the time that my wife would put Chloe to bed, the house became quiet, and I closed the door on the outside world to work on Finding Sanctuary : Christmas for a few hours.
Night after night I played over and over the carols, hymns, and seasonal folk songs that had moved me throughout my life. I read pages and pages of song histories. So many, in fact, that I recently made a donation to Wikipedia, as I couldn’t have completed the album without it. It was an excellent starting point for my research.
I started listening to a few versions of the first pieces I worked on – I thought this would be good research. I had to stop immediately. Everything I heard sounded so familiar, so tried and true. I wanted to honor what was done historically, but bring a fresh, unique interpretation. I tried to bring something new to each piece.
I’ve gotten so many encouraging comments. A pianist friend of mine paid me a deep compliment: “Your lovely, unusual but organic arrangements are really intoxicating.” It made my whole day. Another friend texted me a picture of him rocking his baby daughter to sleep while my version of “Greensleeves” played in the background. I showed it to my wife and we both felt so honored to share in that moment. This entire project has been so incredibly fulfilling.
That’s really what it’s all about: making something that touches people’s hearts in this amazing time of year.
If you haven’t had the chance, I invite you to go listen. And if you already have, I hope this album speaks to you and brings you a sense of beauty and quiet sanctuary this holiday season.