|Vox Celeste is an album of soft layered pipe organ, synthesizer, Irish wire-strung harp, bells and sounds from nature, with melodies derived from Gregorian Chant and harmonized into a lush, modern instrumental style.
The album's title comes from the organ stop of that name, which is a string stop usually paired with a Salicional or Viola da Gamba stop on the expressive Swell division of a pipe organ to create a soft, shimmering, ethereal effect.
|The Marian hymn, "Hail, Star of the Sea" from the Gregorian chant found in the Liber Usualis (Roman Catholic) hymnal.|
|I arranged and recorded my version of Ave Maris Stella in the spring of 2010. Although it was unintentional, with the track's digitally sampled themes of ocean waves and seagulls, the timing of my work coincided with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. I started recording in March, before the disaster occurred in early April and finished mixing the project around the time the spill was finally contained in July. Originally I had meant for the music to reflect the sea captains' prayers to Mary over the centuries, but I found as my work progressed that the environmental news of each day had quite an effect on my production and that Ave Maris Stella was still a prayer for our times.|
|The Gregorian Credo III ("I Believe") on Irish wire-strung harp, with nature sounds of birds and a running stream.|
|In Ireland, holy wells are frequented by believers praying for redemption from life's ills, both in body and spirit. The rosary is carried in prayer, and sometimes devotions are left behind. For my recording, I multitracked my wire harp, playing the Credo, and then on separate channels at a later time, recorded an accompaniment - effectively playing counterpoint with my harp. The digitally sampled 1928 E.M. Skinner pipe organ plays a soft accompaniment in the background, but I think it's primarily the digital sample tracks of a running brook and chirping birds that provide the real accompaniment - a sense of actually being there in Ireland, to pray at a holy well of one's choosing.|
|Lushly orchestrated version of the Gregorian Lord's Prayer.|
|The Lord's Prayer was quickly arranged and recorded in the fall of 2011. It seemed to arrange itself, as it were, on the staff paper, suggesting the right harmonization for the Gregorian neumes and didn't seem to ask much in the way of changes when completed, except for a few minor revisions here and there. It was also one of the least demanding pieces to record, both technically and emotionally, and almost played itself. One of my favorites and I think it comes through on the track.|
|The Gregorian Ave Maria played on the Irish wire-strung harp.|
|I arranged this chant for wire-strung harp and organ. On the recording a synthesizer is used as a string background to the harp, and its presence is minimal, so that the harp is primarily heard.|
|The Marian hymn, "Hail, Holy Queen" from the Gregorian chant found in the Liber Usualis hymnal.|
|This concluding prayer of the rosary was recorded late February - early March 2012. There are over 40 layers on the recording. It uses the digitally sampled 1928 E.M. Skinner organ in Chicago, Ill. and the 1966 Casavant Frères organ in Oshawa, Ont., layered together in sets. Each phrase in the hymn can have up to 10 recorded organ layers - six to seven different registrations of the Skinner organ, plus pedal, with three or four of the Casavant and its pedal. I found that these two instruments complemented each other beautifully when mixed
together this way, creating a shimmering effect.|
|Rearranged for Irish wire harp, from the vocal score for the a capella liturgical choral piece written during the Renaissance by ?Flemish composer Jacques Arcadelt (?1505 - 1568).|
|This piece is not actually a Gregorian Chant, but I included it because I found it compelling and it was originally an a capella liturgical choral piece written during the Renaissance by ?Flemish composer Jacques Arcadelt (?1505 - 1568). I rearranged the SATB score for organ, recorded it, and then improvised the harp over the organ. My arrangement here does not include any harp; it is the sheet music that I used when I recorded the organ layers.|
|"Come, Creator Spirit", a Gregorian Chant found in the Liber Usualis hymnal.|
|The digitally sampled set from the 1928 E.M. Skinner pipe organ of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, Chicago and the 1966 Casavant organ at St. George's Memorial Church, Oshawa, Ontario, Canada are layered together along with synthesizers, bells, and sounds from nature.|
|The Gregorian Chant "Creator Alme Siderum", also known in Protestant hymnals as "Creator of the Stars of Night", played on Irish wire-strung harp, with soft pipe organ accompaniment and sounds from nature.|
|On this recording the chant melody is hidden in the counterpoint of double-tracked harp. Sanctus bells, chimes and the occasional plucked harmonic create the starry night.|
The CD was printed with a 16-page booklet with liner notes about the Irish harp, ancient music sources for the album and eight of my photo-realistic drawings of flowers, plants and landscape scenes of Vermont and Ireland.