CD: Twilight Serenade
Artist: Peter Sterling

CD coverTalk about going with the flow, that is something that harpist and multi-instrumentalist Peter Sterling has developed into an art form. According to Peter: “The tracks for Twilight Serenade were born out of one long improvisation as I sat at the harp and allowed the music to emerge without any agenda. The songs flowed out in sequence as you hear it on the disc. The only song on the CD, which was pre-rehearsed was track 4, ‘A Mothers Love’.” Following this initial outpouring of inspiration, Peter spent over two years orchestrating the harp tracks with other instruments and guest musicians at his studio in Sedona, Arizona. This album is a follow up to his well-received Patterns Of Reflection CD, which was nominated for “Best Contemporary Instrumental Album” by Zone Music Reporter in 2012. The harp tracks for both albums were created during a marathon two day recording session at the studio of a shaman friend of his in California. Peter felt guided to work on and release the music which became Patterns Of Reflection first, and has now returned to showcase the music that developed into Twilight Serenade, and which he feels is even more transcendental.


Subtitled, “Music For Dreaming,” Peter calls this “the perfect soundtrack for dreaming awake,” and on the back cover of the CD he quotes Henry David Thoreau who said: “Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.” The image of a setting sun framed by a Native American dreamcatcher on the front cover, further illuminates the theme. Having written about Peter’s last album, Patterns Of Reflection, I’ve also had the pleasure of writing about his earlier releases, Center Of The Circle and Circles Of Light, which was actually recorded on location inside a crop circle in rural Wiltshire, England. With such an appreciation of Peter’s musical talents, I’m always eager to hear his latest creative offering.


With a soft shimmering wash of cymbal and delicate harp melodies, the album opens with the 10 minute long Peter Sterlingtitle track. The song follows a graceful arc, beginning with an appropriately dreamy ambience of harp, accented by ethereal synthesizer, violin, guitar, and chimes for the first half. From there it evolves into a laid back groove with hand drums providing a rhythmic foundation. The song comes full circle later on, settling back into the drifting ambient feel it began with. In addition to harp, Peter also adds percussion, keyboards, and voice on the album. His accompanists include Fritz-Hugh Jenkins on guitar, electric violinist Dov, Richard Hardy on silver and bamboo flutes, and his life-partner Crystal Bliss, who plays Alchemy crystal bowls.


Cascading harp arpeggios evoke images of a tumbling waterfall on the second track, entitled “Walk With Me.” This piece is less orchestrated than the first one, with just a bit melodic guitar and heavenly choir sounds from the keyboard in the background, and also features some of Peter’s reverberant vocals. A brief interlude called “Edge Of Forever,” has a cinematic quality with its harp glissandos, crystal bowl harmonics, ambient electronic textures, and the sound of water. Chirping birds and gentle harp set the stage for the aforementioned track, “A Mother’s Love,” which develops into what is for me, the most emotionally evocative piece on the album. Peter, along with his accompanists, have really captured a feeling here that radiates pure heart energy. I was deeply moved by this composition, which emanates love, compassion, and an angelic spirit. This is a song I will definitely come back to when I want to feel inspired and uplifted. A nice touch was the tubular bell chimes accenting a song called “Isle Of Light,” which shares a similar heavenly feeling as the preceding track. The previously mentioned cover image is referenced in an epic track entitled “Dream Catcher Suite.” This truly is a “suite” in that it evolves through a variety of sonic scenarios, ranging from dream-like and ambient, to foot-tapping rhythmic excursions, and back again, over the course of its 17 and a half minutes. Featuring exquisite orchestration, this piece reflects the various facets of Peter’s musical persona. The final track takes us through a musical portal titled “The Seventh Gate.” There is a bit of a yin yang feel to to this piece. The first half is quite active, while the second half seems to cross a threshold to a quieter more spacious realm. I like the way it brings the listener back down at the end, providing a perfect conclusion to the album. After listening Twilight Serenade, you really have the feeling that you have been on a magical journey.


Having heard and written about a number of Peter Sterling’s albums, I continue to be impressed, not only with his talents as a musician, arranger, and composer, but just as much with the spiritual focus he brings to everything he does. In addition to his own recordings, he has also been a special guest on three albums by the smooth jazz group 3rd Force lead by William Aura, which includes such jazz greats as Peter White, John Klemmer, and Craig Hearing_Angels_Sing_Cover_smChaquico. Peter Sterling will be featured even more prominently on their upcoming album Global Force coming this fall. However, his artistic abilities extend into other media as well, and Peter has recently authored a new book entitled Hearing the Angels Sing, published by Light Technology Publishing. The book is factual account of Peter’s real world (and other-worldly) experiences, and also includes a 70-minute companion CD, with a special mix of some of his best-loved songs. In addition to being a talented stained glass artist, Peter is also knownsedona for his work as a back-country guide to the vortex’s and sacred sites of Sedona, Arizona for 25 years. Most people would be satisfied to be accomplished in just one thing, but Peter Sterling is a true renaissance man who is constantly evolving and exploring new frontiers. His new release Twilight Serenade, is an enchanting musical voyage that shines with creative energy and “harp magic.”