CD: Language Of The Soul
Artist: Steven Vitali

Language-Of-The-SoulI always find it interesting to hear about the seminal life experiences that inspired an artist to want a career in music. For young Steven Vitali of Toronto, it was seeing an orchestra perform the “Nutcracker Suite” ballet. On that day, a seed was planted which blossomed into a diverse musical garden. Although he began with trumpet and French horn in grade school, he eventually expanded to piano and guitar. But beyond becoming an instrumentalist, Steven had a desire to compose music, something he began in earnest in his early teens. He even remembers playing movies on his VCR or television and turning off the sound, while he would re-create his own score as he would watch.


Since that time Steven Vitali has gone on to become an internationally recognized award-winning composer, arranger, and lyricist for film, theater, television, radio, records, and more. With over 2000 melodies and arrangements to his credit, Steven’s music has been published by Warner/Chappell Music Canada and distributed by Sony Music, Capitol Records and Koch. Thus, its’ no surprise that he has been heard by Celine & Stevenmillions of people in an estimated 44 countries. Steven’s romantic and enchanting sound has been compared to Vangelis, Yanni, Hans Zimmer, and other well-known contemporary composers.  One of the most memorable moments in his career came when he performed “Shades of Yesterday,” a song he composed in honor of Celine Dion’s outstanding charity work and he received a standing ovation from Celine who was in the audience.


Although his recordings are often found in the new age genre, Steven is hesitant to label it as that and sees it more as “theme music.” In his words: “I don’t like to put a category on it because I think people will put their own category on instrumental music. I don’t try to write new age music and try to see how different I can come across with different sounds. I try to write something melodic and something people can relate to. But I don’t mind the new age label. When I find my work in the new age section of a record store…I’m just glad it’s in the shop.” One of the things he likes most about instrumental music is that there are no language barriers and can have more of a universal appeal. For Steven, music has a greater purpose than just entertainment: “I have always considered and believe that music holds the secret to bringing people together from all walks of life. Because to me instrumental music touches on the emotion within our souls, and therefore it moves us in a direction that inspires our lives perhaps in a most positive direction”.


Steven Viali collage 1So lets delve into this positive direction and check out Steven’s latest album release, The Language of the Soul. The title of the opening track is something I often tell myself when I’m questioning life’s enigmatic occurrences: “Everything Happens For A Reason.” Right from the start, Steven’s extensive experience as a film composer makes its presence felt. There is a cinematic feel to this piece that could easily be on a movie soundtrack (although the same could be said for just about everything on the album.) A piano melody with string section accompaniment makes for a dramatic entrance. It moves to another level as a contemporary electronic drum track joins in, providing energy and motion. An interesting an unexpected change up happens mid way as the song shifts gears into a reggae groove with flute solo. Yet another surprise turn occurs when most of the instrumentation drops out and we hear a brief vocal chant in a foreign language before the piece reverts back to the piano, strings, and percussion motif heard in the first half of the song. As the track is fading out, Steven throws one final surprise element into the mix – the sound of an animal call, like a wolf in the distance. I really enjoyed all the unanticipated twists and turns that the music took as it evolved and made me look forward to hearing the rest of the album.


Moving on to the next track, “Guitar Of Soul,” as the title implies, sweet nylon string acoustic guitar etched sensitive melodies on an orchestral background with Patrick O’Hearn-style echoed percussion. I liked the title as much as the music on a track called “Be The Miracle” which harkened back to Steven’s statement about music inspiring our lives in a positive direction. The further I got into this album, the more I came to appreciate the mastery of Steven’s composition and arrangement of the music.


Traces of the Orient are heard on an evocative piece entitled “A Sign Of The Dragon,” Steven Vitali score composerwhich incorporates gongs, temple bells, erhu, koto, flute, and percussive elements into a lush symphonic arrangement that is quite stately and beautiful. Similarly symphonic, yet revealing a more sensitive side is the lovely “Forever Germaine,” with it’s lofty vocal choirs soaring over rich strings and horn section. Steven’s piano work is particularly brilliant as he steps into the spotlight with it briefly mid-song displaying his impressive skills. The sounds of wind and waves, rain and thunder set the stage on “Soul And The Senses” – a nice touch.


Another fine example of Steven’s piano artistry is found on a track called “Red Piano.” This song also features one of the albums most distinctive juxtapositions as a hip-hop drum groove provides propulsion for a more classically oriented arrangement. This was a bold compositional move that could have either been very cool or fallen flat. Fortunately the former was the result.


These last few comments highlight what are for me, one of Steven’s most outstanding musical qualities, namely his masterful blending of diverse elements. His electronic drum tracks are very contemporary sounding, and sometimes not what you might expect in the context of music with new age, pop, and classical influences, but they always work and showcase Steven’s unique musical personality. The range of his music is impressive, even from one song to the next, such as the rousing anthemic “Tomorrow Starts Here” which sounds like it could be theme music for the Olympics, to the heavenly “My Father My Prayer” with its harps and angelic choirs.



Steven VitaliAs stated, Steven’s abilities in composition, arranging, and orchestration are absolutely first rate. Not to mention his skills as an instrumentalist. On this topic however, he shares: “”Although I play many instruments in particular the piano, keyboards and guitar I really do not look at myself as a musician, although many people do. I really look at myself as a creator of musical expression.” And his music is indeed expressive. According to his bio: “Vitali believes his musical arrangements convey imagination and emotion which evoke a sense of passion, excitement and romanticism. He is able to integrate this into his personal style in a remarkable manner.” I would definitely agree. While his style is his own, as a point of reference, I’d venture to say that listeners who enjoy works of Yanni, and particularly Vangelis, will find a lot to like in the music of Steven Vitali and his Language Of The Soul release.