Dawn of a New Century

"...the power of music reflects the light of our hearts and guides us out of darkness into our own very special secret garden.  Music is to me a very strong way of channeling emotions.  Itís a direct and naked way of expressing feelings that canít be communicated in any other way."


TRACK LISTING AND NOTES
(Notes by Rolf Lovland and Fionnuala Sherry)

Fionnuala Sherry on violin and Rolf Lovland on piano/keyboards


  • Moongate - "In the ancient Chinese culture, a formal garden often featured a special archway that led from one part of the garden to another and was called, romantically, the moongate. Lovers would pass through the moongate to retain the strength and passion of their love. The classical and romantic mood of this melody, interrupted in the middle section by the ethereal and lyrical guitar of Terje Rypdal, merges two contrasting musical expressions that compliment each other as naturally as Yin and Yang. The Norwegian guitarist and composer Terje Rypdal has created a unique and expressive style of his own through his legendary ECM recordings."
  • Prayer - "Our second album White Stones was centered on the classic fairy tale "Hansel and Gretel", the story of two unsuspecting children abandoned in a dark forest. Sometimes, even as adults, we can feel vulnerable and timid when we find ourselves in unknown and unfamiliar situations. We search for signs and guidance to find the pathways to safety. We surrender to the spirits and ask them to enfold and protect us. The Scottish singer Karen Matheson, known from the group Capercaille and for the beautiful lament she sings in the film 'Rob Roy', performs this song."  Lyrics by Fionnuala Sherry and Rolf Lovland.
  • Elan - "The word elan means flight and this song, Celtic inspired and rhythmically driven was created to evoke the soaring sense and spirit of dance. The piece was recorded with a wonderful cast of Irish players who gave their personal colour to the music: Tommy Hayes on bodhran, spoons and bones, Martin OíConnor on the box, and Mick OíBrien on uillean pipes and whistle."
  • Dreamcatcher - "The tradition of a 'dreamcatcher' is an ancient one, dating back to the Celtic and Native American cultures, where soft branches of oak and willow were formed into a circle and used as a base for a web of feathers., leaves and twine. This natural net would "capture" ideas, dreams and visions and allow the dreamers to achieve their dreams and goals. This magical dreamcatcher also provided a unique protection during sleep: filtering out the bad dreams and retaining the pleasant, positive ones. Weíve thought of this piece as a lullaby, since a lullaby can soothe us to sleep and be, in turn, a musical 'dreamcatcher'. The lullaby is by Nikki Matheson."  Lyrics by Nikki Matheson.
  • Sona - "The mood of this song relates to the fable of frightened children lost and abandoned in the dark and mysterious forest. We are inspired by the idea that music can be like the white stones that ultimately save the children in the fairy tale. Like the stones in the story, which reflected the light of the moon, the power of music reflects the light of our hearts and guides us out of darkness into our own very special secret garden. The Irish lyrics, written by Mick OíBrien, bring us back into the forest, where its mystery and beauty can once again captivate us."
  • In Our Tears - "Music is to me a very strong way of channeling emotions. Itís a direct and naked way of expressing feelings that canít be communicated in any other way. Recently I lost a dear friend under tragic circumstances and writing this piece helped me out of my darkness. These personal feelings are captured here in this "requiem" over a lost friend, whose unique memory will live on in the hearts of everybody who knew him. The piece features the Irish choir Anúna, singing lyrics in reference to the traditional Latin Mass, written by the Norwegian author and priest Eyvind Skeie."
  • Children of the River - "On meeting musicians from the Orient, we were fascinated by their distinctive musical sounds and instruments. In this song we have tried to capture some of the uniquely Eastern colours and vibrant tones of this ancient and beautiful culture. Music is the universal language of emotions, and regardless of our differences, we all share and understand this common language. The flute player Steinar Ofsdal who studied Chinese culture and music is playing the 'Dizi' and the 'Bawu' in this tune."
  • Evensong - "The nature around us, strongly influences our lives. Its rhythms - night and day, light and shade, ebb and flow, sunshine and rain, colour our moods. Nature beckons us and we respond to its calling. Sitting under the sky on a bright Norwegian summerís night surrounded by valleys, mountains and fjords, inspired the feeling of a distant voice calling in the evening. Long ago voices could be heard echoing across the valleys, sending ritual and spiritual messages. The Norwegian traditional singer Anne Karin Kaasa sets the mood of this tune, traditionally chanting as you would hear in the southern valley of Setesdal in Norway."
  • Lore Of The Loom - "Often weíve found that our music crosses over the two poetic landscapes of Norwegian and Irish inspiration, two traditions with equally strong musical identities. Like a woven tapestry, the threads of these musical traditions can be blended and woven together, as in this song, a colourful and rhythmic tune in which both Irish and Norwegian "lines and threads" are equally woven into a warm and comforting musical tapestry of joyful colours, vibrant patterns and unique textures and depth."
  • Aria - "A slow duet between the violin and the low strings in a dark and melancholic lament. Anúna performs the Irish lyrics by Mick OíBrien. I praise you day by day - father in heaven our saviour - the golden era leaves us now. Sadness and loneliness on my heart - happiness and delight on my thoughts. A new season on the horizon - long is the day - long is the night. Praise youth - and it will always be there."
  • Divertimento - "A graceful dance movement written in the gallant mood of an 18th century gavotte. Divertimento translates in Italian as "entertaining" and here evokes a light, graceful mood, suggesting a joyful contrast to the sentiments of this album. Hans Fredrik Jacobsen plays the recorder solos."
  • Aquarell - "A musical canvas of Norwegian moods painted in transparent colours that float and merge into each other, creating impressions and thoughts in a small moment of life. Simplicity can sometimes evoke the true meaning of emotions, and in this piece inspiration comes from the restless and wandering thoughts during a sleepless night."
  • Dawn Of A New Century - ""It is in changing that things find purpose", wrote Greek philosopher Heraclitus many centuries ago. And as the dawn of a new century arrives, we look back upon the historic events that have dominated our lives and our thoughts: The many leaders and heroes that gave our history a kaleidoscope of voices and faces; the remarkable achievements in medicine, science and technology. Just a few of the many changes our generation has witnessed in a single century include the discovery of penicillin, manís landing on the moon, the transplant of human organs and the marvels of the computer. This century also let us witness the cruelty of world wars and the beginning and end of a cold war. And the growing understanding between different countries and cultures. But let us not forget, in these changing days, the darker chapters of a closing century: the Holocaust; Hiroshima; the isolation of the Berlin Wall; and equally unpleasant historical markers that mankind has left as scars on civilizationís memory. And as we welcome a new century, we also leave unresolved problems for our children: the gradual destruction of our planet thanks to increasing pollution; destruction of rain forests and ozone layers; starvation and epidemics in the Third World and perpetual conflicts between religions, races and cultures that seem to ignite effortlessly. We who do not learn from historyís mistakes, it is written, are doomed to make the same mistakes over and over again. Thus, at the dawn of a new century, it is our history that we hand our children as their heritage and their inheritance as the dream of a better, more promising future. The scars of the past are a wound we all share, yet with this knowledge, we continue to march forward to greet the dawn with faith and hope. In the book of mankind another page has been written, and as we turn it over, a new and blank sheet unfolds - a new chapter begins. What will our children read by the end of the next century? The opening narration is written by Petter Skavlan and narrated by John Kavanaugh. Anúna is performing the closing section with a hymn of hope."

MY REVIEW AND COMMENTS

What a way to end the 20th century and embark on the dawn of the 21st century! This is yet another outstanding album from this amazing ensemble! It just doesn't cease to amaze me how these two beautiful and talented artists and their superb band can release one great album after another. I believe that this is primarily due to the manner in which they conduct business - straight from the heart, putting their entire being into creating and performing these works of art. This awesome album is structured in the same vein as the previous two, an outstanding kaleidoscope of colours, textures, tempos and beautiful melodies. From serene songs that will calm you, to gorgeous hymns that will move you, to dance-like rhythms that will lift your spirits - itís all here! Continue your journey to your own secret garden as Rolf Lovland continues to pour out amazing compositions! And what can you say about the guest artists - the beautiful and emotive voice of Karen Matheson and the powerful songs featuring the incredible choir Anúna for example. Standout songs include Prayer, In Our Tears, Sona, Evensong, Aria, and of course Dawn of a New Century. But they are all great songs. When you compose and perform in the style that Secret Garden does, a mediocre tune is just not possible. This album is another must have for people who are into heartfelt music. This is music for all time. Take a bow Secret Garden!


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