Forever grateful for the opportunity to be an artist in residence with Ellis-Beauregard Foundation. I spent the past month creating in an old school retrofitted into artists spaces. The residency was life changing and allowed my the space and time to focus.
I had a productive month in Maine recording and editing 2 new albums. One album is 10 experimental, lyricless, a cappella pieces composed at a past residency in France at Chateau Orquevaux. There are vivid videos to accompany each song. The other album is a collection of songs written since 2020. I’m really proud of how they turned out. I’m open to creative ways to release music and videos since live performances are challenging again. Share your ideas with me please.
I am a self-employed musician. Performances are tough in the time of COVID so support from my fans and grants keep me going. If you’d like to subscribe to my Patreon I promise to keep you entertained and show you behind the scenes and new content before anyone else get to see it. Thanks for your support, friends. xo C
After residency in France, I traveled to Switzerland to play a show at Café Kairo and visit my friend Beat-Man. I had an awesome time playing at Beat-Man’s record shop, Voodoo Rhythm Hardware Store which is located in the Old City of Bern, Switzerland.
Down the road from the Hardware Store, I was delighted to discover the Zytglogge, a 15th-century astronomical clock that displays the moon phases and ring of the zodiac. I spent my birthday in Bern so it seemed magical to be in the same space.
Also in the Old City is Bern Minster Cathedral, (German: Berner Münster), a Swiss Reformed cathedral built in the Gothic style. Construction started in 1421. Its tower was was completed in 1893, stands at 330 feet, and is the largest standing structure in the City. The space and sound was breathtaking.
On these recordings I saw myself cycle through fear and hesitation. There are a few times before I start singing where I audibly tell myself I cannot do it.
The cathedral in Bern, Switzerland. I almost didn’t go through with singing. There were a few dozen people within the space and the acoustics were cavernous. I struggled with my camera and moved 3 times before I had the guts to sing. Five notes into singing, a hush came over the crowd. A few minutes in, a group of kids sat in the pews to listen. I thought my camera was recording but it was not. The video for this song are the few photos I have. My favorite is the photo of the kids that sat around me. Their smiles and attention was moving. I am so happy I captured that moment. Towards the end of the video you’ll see a lady wearing purple. She asks me to stop singing at the end. I apologized and left. My sins were forgiven.
Thank you for watching. This is the final video from this series. Listen to the recordings on Bandcamp and wherever you prefer to stream.
Here are two more videos from the series in the Church of Saint-Germain de Charonne.
In Paris, a few blocks from where I was staying is the Church of Saint-Germain de Charonne. I entered an empty place and started singing. A priest or parishioner arrived and was setting up for a mass. I asked if it was okay to sing. He said something in French but I am naive to the language. Through tone and body language it seemed ok and friendly. I am not sure if I had permission but it seemed like I did. I hope that I conveyed gratitude to him. Singing in the church brought me much joy.
There is one more cathedral performance to share. Stay tuned. Listen to the recordings on Bandcamp and wherever you prefer to stream. Thanks for watching.
The Well, based out of Cincinnati, offers programs that combine aspects of mindfulness, arts, social-emotional learning, play, movement, and poetry into practices for regular use within schools, hospitals, and communities. The Well’s Mindful Music Moments program delivers music and mindfulness daily to schools across the country.
Each week, entire schools listen to a single piece of music, repeated for 5 days, with creative, mindful prompts preceding each day. The Field Recording/New Music Project, supported by a grant from the Ohio Arts Council, hired 4 musicians to record sounds in their area and create new music with the sounds during the 2021/22 school year.
I am delighted to work on a piece that shares calm with students. The sounds of Lake Erie and surrounding wildlife were the theme and inspiration to this composition.
Notes about the recording
Erie Serenade samples sounds from the Lake Erie region. For this project, I recorded environmental acoustics at five different locations. Wave sounds were sampled from Magee Marsh and Edgewater Beach. Bird, bug, and frog songs were recorded from Old Woman Creek, Rocky River Reservation, and Columbia Station Reservation.
What amphibians, animals, birds, and insect calls can you identify? I can hear blue jays, chickadees, cicadas, crickets, and woodpeckers.
The percussion is made entirely of environmental field recordings; the melody is voice. All the vocals are my own. The natural percussion was clipped to fit 79 bpm and designed to be supportive of slow, steady breathing. Once the background beat was composed I meditated on what tone would fit the emotions and intentions of the song and started recording vocals. I wanted the piece to be uplifting, repetitive, and hypnotic, yet enough variation for engagement. There are many layers to the song that can serve as cues to breathe deeply. Please follow the pulse that best serves your breathing practice.
This project increased awareness of manmade sounds. Recording the natural environment is challenging because human-created cacophonies dominate the soundscape: running engines, ringing phones, passing planes, power and yard tools are much louder than wildlife. Even traffic lights hum. This project made me curious to hear the sounds of old-growth forests of the past.
I was asked, “What else do you want students to know, hear or think about when they hear this music?”
I hope this song helps students meditate in the present moment.
Listen to the layers. Breathe with the music. Let worries melt away and envision a calming happy space. Feel at peace. Today is an exciting new day. May it bring joy. Thanks for sharing this moment together.
This album is called Illicit Hymns because the recordings were unplanned and unrehearsed. The locations were not scouted nor researched, rather stumbled upon.
It started at an artist residency at Chateau Orquevaux in rural France (Read the backstory in this post).
After the residency, I drove around France and Switzerland for a few weeks playing shows and singing in churches.
I’d turn the corner and find a beautiful cathedral nearly empty. The door would open, I’d walk around wide-eyed making a few coos and hoos, until I found a good spot. I’d lean my camera and audio recorder on whatever surface was nearby and start singing sounds.
Doing was first, documenting came second. I winged it. I was in each church for under 10 minutes. The visuals are shaky because of the haphazardness. However, I embrace these imperfections. If I did this any other way, the project would not be the same.
These recordings are from Gruyères, Switzerland in the Church of St. Theodule (Eglise Saint Theodule). Gruyères is a gorgeous medieval town that happened to be hosting an art fair when I arrived. I drove there to visit the HR Giger Museum. Instead, I ate grilled cheese in the Giger Cafe and headed to this church to sing. I had the place to myself with the exception of a few fellow tourists who popped in and out.
The spaces shaped the sound. The specific echo and excitement of each experience made the melody. I had never heard or sang these songs before. If I had scheduled a show, or gotten permission this would have been a completely different performance. These pieces would have never existed.
This trip was the first time I focused all my attention on art. It was an exploratory experience. It was a quest to honor and follow my intuition. It was life-changing and shaped my decision to pursue my creative calling.
There are 3 more cathedral performances to share. Stay tuned. Listen to the recordings on Bandcamp and wherever you prefer to stream.
“Illicit Hymns” releases November 19, 2021. The BANDCAMP pre-order starts today. The album and video series are 7 improv performances in 4 cathedrals around France and Switzerland.
This album is called Illicit Hymns because I sang in cathedrals without permission. This trip was about following my intuition. The recordings were unplanned and unrehearsed. The locations were not scouted nor researched, rather stumbled upon.
Maybe you’re wondering why I was singing in these places. It started at an artist residency at Chateau Orquevaux in rural France. For two weeks I lived in a mansion with twelve other artists. During our stay, we visited Eglise Saint André, a church in Orquevaux. Only opened occasionally, I was allowed a last-minute opportunity to sing inside. I winged it. Consumed in the moment the melodies flowed freely. The other artists drew as I sang.
The church was built before electric amplification was invented. The construction of these spaces was meant to carry voices. The sound was phenomenal and the reverb resonated through my body. (View on Youtube. This recording is not a part of Illicit Hymns release because I had permission to sing).
Next we visited Cathédrale Saint-Mammès de Langres in Langres, France. Construction of Langres Cathedral began in the 11th century. The architecture was stunning and the acoustics were amazing.
Another artist from the residency encouraged me to sing. I was hesitant. Her words were along the lines of, what are the consequences? What are they going to do, ask you to stop?
I shook my shyness, took up space, and made some noise.
These are the first two pieces on the album.
After the residency I traveled solo through France and Switzerland, sharing a few performances and scoping out a few cathedrals. On my own, I visited 3 more churches. I’ll be sharing those soon.