AMOR AETERNUS- CARNEGIE HALL PREMIERE- from EILEEN SHERMAN 2022 - At her Carnegie Hall debut on July 21, 2022, the extraordinary composer and pianist, HEIDI BREYER, promised the audience an evening of spiritual nourishment. Ms. Breyer more than delivered! MUSIC FOR THE SPIRIT OF THE PEOPLE was a glorious concert and introduced Ms. Breyer's new works, Innocentia -A Prelude to Amor Aeternus and Amor Aeternus: A Requiem for the Common Man. An artful collaboration of choral, solo vocals, piano, and instrumental, the lush notes of music soared through the elegant concert hall while they soothed the soul..... quite the feat, indeed. Guided by the steady and masterful baton of Conductor Eugene Friesen, the dozens of fine artists on stage, with the composer seated at the piano, treated the listener to an exquisite evening of music that inspired reflection, contemplation, peace, and tranquility. This one attendee would simply like to say, "Brava, Heidi Breyer! Very well done! Eileen Sherman Playwright/ Lyricist/ Producer
AMOR AETERNUS- CARNEGIE HALL PREMIERE- from LEAH CHRISTENSEN 2022 - poet, Czech Republic - The premiere of Amor Aeternus: A Requiem for the Common Man by composer and musician Heidi Breyer at Carnegie Hall on July 21st was a sublime and intense musical experience. In our volatile climate, this work channeled another peaceful world. Weaving the choir angelically in and out of the orchestration, Heidi’s piano solo and the three choir soloists unearthed every passage. And when Heidi moved from piano to joining the choir, her presence brought the performance to a new level. I was reminded of a concert I recently attended in Prague at the Rudolfinum, Lili Boulanger’s Vieille prière bouddhique composed in 1917. These feminine compositions somehow connect to the spiritual in a nuanced vision. Bravo.
AMOR AETERNUS- CARNEGIE HALL PREMIERE- from DAVID PITTINGER 2022 - I was recently privileged to venture into the hallowed Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall to hear two world premiers by Composer Heidi Breyer appropriately titled “Music for the Spirit of the People” Innocentia A Prelude to Amor Aeternus and Amor Aeternus A Requiem for the Common Man. When I heard the opening words sung by the angelic voice of Elizabeth Rogers my heart almost skipped a beat as I was reminded of Henryk Gorecki’s second movement in Symphony #3, but the association ends there. Where Gorecki’s masterpiece explores the heartbreak of separation from the point of view of a child, Heidi’s work is much more a celebration of unification. She succeeds in bringing her listeners on a journey of the human spirit that is uplifting and soulful without feeling sentimental in the least. This being my first trip to the Stern Auditorium I made the mistake (as a person uncomfortable with heights) of sitting in the second tier boxes. There I was sitting in my fear of falling when the lights dimmed, the music began, and my fears were swept by the wayside. I was brought back into the present moment with an onrush of beauty, grace, and an overall feeling of peace as each note was built upon the last and each sublime melody was revealed. Within that glorious space of time, I literally made the journey I feel Heidi intended for us when she composed this masterpiece. To paraphrase Heidi from the introduction of her work she aimed to reinspire and reinvigorate us after a long ordeal that continues to overwhelm and overstimulate us in everyday life. In my opinion she succeeded beautifully.
AMOR AETERNUS- CARNEGIE HALL PREMIERE- from STEVE GRIFFIN 2022 - Dear Heidi- Our trip to New York was capped off by your incredibly wonderful and beautiful concert at Carnegie Hall. I still feel like I witnessed a monumental opus moment, and my spirit remains uplifted by the chorus, the solos, accompaniment, and of course, your talent. I admit that I don’t have the word or words myself to describe how amazing the evening was; but Emerson, Tami, and I agree that it was on a completely different level that made us forget that we were in an audience. We each felt like it was personally for each of us. And maybe that’s the intent of music. To pull us in, and help us melt away with each note. I wish that Jensen and Caitlin could have made the trip to share the evening with some of your friends, and especially you both. We are collectively so very proud of your success and grateful for the your contributions to society, and my playlist. You, Heidi Breyer, are one in a billion. Highest Regards, and Happiness for your both, Steve and Family
AMOR AETERNUS- DYAN GARRIS 2018- Album Review by New Age CD and New Age Notes Radio Staff Every piece on the album speaks directly and deeply to the heart and soul of humanity, and this is exactly what makes us weep and at the very same time lifts us up. Eternally. – Dyan Garris ~ I’m not sure I have adequate words to describe this incredible album by consummately brilliant, award-winning musical artist, composer, and pianist, Heidi Breyer. I can only try. “Amor Aeternus” translates from the Latin to “eternal love.” Heidi’s inspiration for the album essentially sprung from the adverse events of the past few years, and perhaps the past few decades, that have continually stretched the limits of what the collective human spirit has had to endure. And through it all, the changes, challenges, and the necessary reinventions, the indomitable spirit of humanity prevails. It is for the unsung heroes, the everyday person, that Heidi composed this album. It is not about death. It’s about life. It’s about true repose for the spirit. Every piece on the album speaks directly and deeply to the heart and soul of humanity, and this is exactly what makes us weep and at the very same time lifts us up. Eternally. “Gorgeous” and “reverent” only scratch the surface of describing these 10 pieces, which were each lovingly composed over a period of years but brought into coalescence remotely then during the pandemic. Along with Heidi, a cast of world-class producers, musicians, and vocalists lent their musical talents to this amazing project. I will include full credits at the end of this review, but here we have piano, strings, orchestra, vocal soloists, and choir. The eloquent compositions are sung in Latin (and included in the liner notes are the English translations), giving the music a “mass” or “prayer-like” feel, but the utter beauty of them all transcends and cuts across all “religious” boundaries. These are songs for the spirit and for us all at a time when we need them the most. I would say it's “divine timing,” to be sure. The spiritual upliftment is astonishing. We can’t address all 10 tracks here, but some highlights for you: The album opens with the graceful, elegant, “Introit” (Entrance). Perfect, to say the least. Strings lead us gently in, and the choir is beyond beautiful and angelic. “. . .Eternal rest, give to them, O Lord: and let light perpetual shine upon them.” This is about 5-1/2 minutes of pure Heaven on Earth. Following, is the equally beautiful, “Kyrie Eleison.” Heidi’s piano is so velvety smooth here and the very gentle male choral voice puts us immediately into a completely tranquil place. I just love this and think you will as well. Full choir comes in later, adding to the serenity. “Lord have mercy on us.” Stunningly beautiful in every regard. One of my favorites, although, it’s virtually impossible to choose one, is “Sanctus,” (Holy). The vocal harmonies are full, lush, and richly luxurious, as they are on the whole album, but if this one doesn’t lift your spirits, I’m not sure what will. “Hosanna in the highest.” Amazing. “Lacrimosa” (Weeping), is another favorite, for not only its vocal beauty, but the flowing, elegant, graceful, and emotionally evocative piano. Stunning beauty. “Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world: grant them eternal rest.” “Agnus Dei” (Lamb Of God), is so angelic and powerful from the very first notes and throughout. The female soloist has one of the most beautiful voices you will ever hear. Heidi’s piano is as elegant and expressive as ever, with strings and full choir adding even more depth to this truly heavenly tapestry. This is restful in ways you can’t even imagine. It’s a “must have,” as is this entire album. “Lux Aeterna” (Eternal Light), is mesmerizing and peace-inducing. “Eternal rest, give to them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine down upon them.” Here we can almost literally feel that light shining down all around us, filling us with shimmering love. Gorgeous, truly gorgeous. The album closes out with the joyful and spiritually uplifting, “In Paradisum” (Into Paradise). With the whole resplendent choir sounding very much like angels, we can fully take in the beauty of this album: “. . .may the chorus of angels receive thee and with Lazarus, once a beggar, may thou have eternal rest. Amen.” Speechless. Amen. Indeed. FYI, the world premiere of “Amor Aeternus” will be in Stern Auditorium/Perleman Stage at Carnegie Hall, NYC, on July 21st, 2022! Tickets are available Now by clicking here. Use these PROMO CODES below when you buy your ticket online: REQ38166 for Seniors and Students REQ38167 for Teachers, Medical Professionals, and Veterans REQ38168 for Musicians Available as a physical CD or digitally, get the album/listen here: https://www.heidibreyer.com/ Credits: Piano: Heidi Breyer Violin soloist: Charlie Bisharat Violins: Bengisu Gokce, Echae Kang Cellos: Eugene Friesen Violas: David Wallace Double Bass: Bruno Raberg Harp: Christa Grix English horn: Jill Haley Vocal soloist: Soprano: Elizabeth Rogers (Pie Jesu) Choral Ensemble: Sopranos: Margot Rood, Barbara Hill Sarah Labrie, Katherine Beckvold Altos: Teri Kowiak, Elizabeth Rogers Tenors: Nate Ramsayer, Daniel Mahoney Baritones: Nathan Halbur, Scott Koven Production: Corin Nelsen: Head Producer, engineer, choir manager, editing, mixing, mastering Heidi Breyer: Composer, Producer, Libretist, choral director Eugene Friesen: Mentor, Co-producer, strings management Alexander Volkov: Artistic Director Michael Buck: Executive Producer
AMOR AETERNUS- TIINA KIIK 2022 - The Wholenote Composer/pianist Heidi Breyer composed this ten-movement contemporary Requiem for chorus, vocal soloists, piano, strings, harp and horn over almost a decade. As Breyer writes, “Amor is a musical anthology of our times…” It is another musical pandemic project for the listener, this one recorded during the first year of COVID lockdowns. Sung in Latin, Breyer composes with moving vocal and instrumental combinations. Introit opens with low-pitched strings, followed by slow choir entry. Love its haunting dark strings under the high female voices and accessible contrapuntal tonality. Breyer’s virtuosic piano solo opening in Kyrie Eleison leads to a solo baritone and then full choir sorrowful lament. Another piano introduction starts Domine Jesu Christe with emotional full choral singing and colourful strings, which also are featured in the slightly faster Sanctus. Lacrimosa is especially unique with a dramatic piano part now in the forefront throughout from the opening solo introduction, orchestral lower pitch support entry, sudden faster tempo with vocals, and return to slower closing with higher vocals supporting the piano. Calming, reflective and beautiful Lux Aeterna, with its angelic vocal legato melody, piano ostinato sections and mellow instrumentals, could stand as a fully independent top-ten piece all on its own! The closing faster movement, In Paradisum, has a jubilant vocal chorus creating a hopeful closing to the entire work. This masterpiece is surprisingly Breyers’ first large-scale choral work. It is powerful, musical and brilliantly composed, performed and produced. by Tiina Kiik. The Wholenote.
An Interview with Pianist/Composer Heidi Breyer BY JAMES A. ALTENA 2022 for FANFARE MAGAZINE Heidi Breyer is an award-winning pianist and composer whose reach now has branched out from piano through instrumental music to a full-scale choral work, Amor Aeternus: A Requiem for the Common Man, which is scheduled to receive its world premiere live performance in Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall on July 21, 2022. In conjunction with that project, Heidi is taking a few moments to chat with the readers of Fanfare. 1) I always like to begin an interview by looking at a musician’s roots, so let’s start there. Did you grow up in a musical family? How did you come to the piano as your instrument? What moved you to decide to follow music as a life’s calling? I didn’t grow up in a musical family but my parents were avid listeners and concert goers and apparently my ancestry was quite musical but it must have skipped a generation or two because there was no family music-making, unfortunately. I began to learn the piano when I was 8 years old, having loved ballet and having taken classes since I was two. I think it was the love of music rooted in movement that swayed me towards music. Having auditioned and entered the Arts Educational School in Hertfordshire at 11 years old, along with my academic studies, I received a multi- disciplinary arts immersion that included ballet, modern, jazz and national dance, drama and the staff recognized my musical inclination and gave me some intensive musical training in piano, violin, theory, harmony, general musicianship, voice and ear training. It was at 18 after finishing that stage of education that I chose music to study at college level and ended up going to Trinity College of Music, in London. 2) Where and when did you pursue musical studies and earn your degrees? Who were the teachers and other figures that you consider to have been your key mentors in shaping you to be the musician you are today? What specifically did you learn from each of those mentors that you have endeavored to retain and carry forward in yourself, both professionally and personally? I received a “Graduate of Trinity College London” degree in Music History, majoring in Piano and Violin and earning my Licentiate Diploma in Piano during that time. I studied with Eva Bernatova and Anthony Lindsay who studied with the great Arturo Benedetti Michaelangeli. Madam Bernatova stealthy imparted discipline without you even realizing and conversely Antony Lindsay advised me after graduation that in order to manifest the breadth of talent he was observing, I should experience the true grit of life. In other words get a little life experience under my belt and then return to music. Each teacher felt differently about the way I should harness what clearly had not manifested yet! 3) Are you active entirely as a freelance performer and composer, or do you have any institutional affiliation and position? Totally freelance. I used to teach a roster of 30 private students (a mix of piano, violin, theory, musicianship) until my need to write took priority and although I have my existing work licensed regularly I would very much like to work in the film industry writing for large screen films. 4) On your website, heidibreyer.com, you state that you have “a classical repertoire that ranges from Bach to Ravel.” First, within that range of time, which composers do you particularly gravitate to and perform? And, do you have a regular recital schedule? Second, does this indicate that you also perform non-classical music repertoire, and if so, what other types of music do you play? The classical repertoire is what I have focused on over years of learning, playing and teaching and it represents the foundation and roots of my musical knowledge. Since 2009 I have mostly only performed my own music, not that of classical composer’s (except for accompanying for example ...art songs of Faure etc.) and do not have a classical recital schedule. The music of the masters is in me and I listen, enjoy and gravitate to them depending on the mood and moment. My non-classical repertoire however is around 100 pieces/works and they are all my own. I write and perform original neo-classical and classical crossover piano solo and piano chamber music whenever possible and only want to do MORE performing, composing, touring and commissioned writing! 5) Third, within the ambit of classical music, does this statement also indicate that you are not attracted to musical and stylistic developments following Impressionism? If so, how would you describe your own relationship to present-day compositional schools and trends? I am absolutely attracted to the stylistic developments following impressionism especially today’s minimalism that even the classical large labels find widely appealing... but I cannot embrace entirely the eras of atonalism or experimentalism. There is a place for those, for sure, but too many composers fall fowl of succumbing to their own insecurity and feeling like they need to reinvent the wheel or steer the course of musical evolution by coming up with a “never before” sound which instead can fall short of a gimmick. In my music I strive for emotional and spiritual depth and beauty, not bland, innocuous beauty (what I call pretty music) but beauty that comes from a place of deep introspection, spiritual lightness of being and love of life. Dostoyevsky said beauty will save the world. There is a lot of beauty needed in the world right now. That is my mission. 6) How would you describe your own compositional style and voice? Which composers have exercised the greatest influence upon you, and how do you see yourself as moving with and/ or beyond them? My own style and artistic voice is evolving all the time. A former producer of mine once said that I “refuse to stand still” in my artistic development which made me smile because that speaks to the essence of the journey I have chosen. Even if I wanted to “arrive” at some predictability I don’t think it would be possible. The most influential composers are those I listed in my classical repertoire. They were listed because of their compositional influence as much as the fact that I play them. And then there are present day composer’s John Rutter, Max Richter, Arvo Part. I admire all of them, but I can’t compare myself to any of them... they are they, I am me, we all sing differently and I refuse to look over my shoulder and worry where I am on the musical highway. The industry is brimming over with talent these days and too many composers waste precious energy and time wondering. There is no order, no competition, no point in thinking like that because there is too much of that going on in other walks of life...better to collaborate. And...not to belabor a point... but the world needs as much nourishing music as it can stomach right now... 7) Your website states that Amor Aeternus took almost a decade to gestate and compose. What originally prompted you to conceive and write the work and why did it take so long to come to fruition? Also, your previous compositions have been either for solo piano or for small chamber music ensembles. What was it like to stretch your wings and venture into writing a choral-orchestral score? I wrote almost 100 piano and piano instrumental chamber pieces between 2009 and 2021. Those culminated in five other albums of commercially released music. That is the reason that I took so long to write Amor Aeternus. I wrote it on and off, observing the grief, struggle, grit, determination, strength and perseverance that people globally have demonstrated over the last very demanding decade in the history of humanity. That is why we see a very different character for each movement of the work. My own musicianship manifested in time, evolving and responding to a global human condition. Writing the work was a thrilling experience and also painful at times and most definitely a vertical learning trajectory with setting the sacred text. I had to learn from those who came before me (those who had written Requiems), those who sing Latin, write Latin... so much learning but that is what I held onto when the next wave of witnessing humanity’s pain washed over me...I just dug in and wrote more as if it was an antidote to all the trauma. 8) The subtitle of your work—“A Requiem for the Common Man”—very pointedly invokes Copland’s immortal fanfare. What is your objective in citing that, and what is the conception of your own composition? I grappled with the subtitle for a while BECAUSE it is so much an invocation of Copland. But ironically, this work stands almost as the antithesis of Fanfare for The Common Man which was music predicting a time of economic and social exuberance. Otherwise there is no connection with Aaron Copland. He left us a wonderful legacy through all his works and I will continue to enjoy them all for the rest of my life! 9) In the score of his Missa solemnis, Beethoven famously wrote, “From the heart – may it go to the heart.” Reading the brief notes on the digipak for this release, I had a sense of a very similar purpose by you. What was your larger, humanitarian objective in writing this piece? Vast. I could write reams on this question. My music, even my work preceding Amor, is all about humanity, the human condition, the need for love, light, peace, joy. Even pain, lament and anger have a place in my music as a reflection of our species. I want people all over the world to listen to this piece of music. Stop for an hour, close their eyes and just sit and listen. They will exhale, cry, smile, remember and see a lot of themselves in my work. With the instability in the world today, none of us know what is around the corner. I don’t think many of us (except those in the business) take the time to stop and literally do nothing but listen to music. If we did, I think it would dissolve a lot of discourse in the world, it would change a lot of impulsive and possibly even violent decisions and actions. Solsenitsyn said “the conviction carried by a genuine work of art is absolutely indisputable and tames even the strongly opposed heart”. THAT is the reason I wrote Amor Aeternus, that is the reason Beethoven wrote “From the heart - may it go to the heart”... 10) Like several other composers—Fauré and Britten, to cite just two—you do not set the traditional Requiem mass text “neat,” as it were, but rather adapt it to your own use. Notably, also like Fauré, you omit the “Dies Irae.” What are your own religious beliefs, and how did those relate to and guide your use of this ancient liturgy? The conscious decision to avoid most of the Dies Irae especially the Confutatis was two-fold. The essence of Amor, (in its first iteration) is about reflecting back the beauty of who we are, the beauty that could be lost in life and I endeavor to bring people through the music as a means of catharsis to a place of peace. That is the loosely the path of the traditional Requiem Mass but on the backdrop of the departed. However, Reminding people of a “Day of Wrath” or “judgement” only compounds what is already known. There is enough tumult going on in the world through politics, wars and so on and so I wanted to avoid conflict in my music during this time. Secondly, I had neither the energy or the choral writing experience (frankly) to manifest all that a Dies Irae demands. Many composers add to large works later in their lives/careers and I suspect this might come at a later stage...another part of the evolution of my writing. 11) Amor Aeternus will receive its first complete public performance in Carnegie Hall on July 21, 2022. Your website states of this preceding studio performance that it was “[r]ecorded during the pandemic with each performer isolated in their home studios.” There are 19 performers total: 10 singers (4/2/2/2) and nine instrumentalists (three violins, and one each on viola, cello, double bass, harp, English horn, and piano). Exactly how does one coordinate and balance 19 performers isolated in separate environments and bring that together into a seamless recording? We brought it together over a period of a year and a half. It took a tremendous amount of effort, discipline, detailed planning, zoom calls to direct the ensemble. We identified a lead instrument in each movement...for example the Lacrimosa: We tracked the piano in my home with all the rubatos etc. as it would be performed and sent it to the strings. Each individual string player tracked their part using the score, the piano part (through the headphones) and a conductors click track. When all the string players had completed tracking that section, it was cleaned up just a little and sent to each singer. So the singer then recorded on top of the piano and the strings...and so forth. It was VERY demanding for each contributant and took an inordinate amount of focus by the production team to get it all right. I am very proud to say not one of the movements needed to be redone which says a lot for our good planning and all the talented musicians. The team were incredibly dedicated and I’m so grateful for their tenacity with this marathon! I often wonder if a REQUIEM has ever been recorded in this way. I was determined to help one small group of people who had lost their way musically during this time...the music industry/community was crumbling and we needed to keep music going... 12) How did you come to decide on the particular orchestration for this work? Do you write your scores by longhand, or with music software such as Sibelius? The orchestration is made up of instruments that I am familiar with and I know how to write for and I have many years experience performing with them, too. I have grown to love the sound of each of them, individually and as an ensemble. They were all natural choices. I begin composing at the piano, pencil and manuscript, always. When a subject has rooted itself and is there to stay, I will take it to Logic and Finale. The score ultimately comes from Finale. 13) What is involved in preparing for a Carnegie Hall world premiere, especially with the gradual lifting of Covid pandemic restrictions still an ongoing process? And, how do you feel about this impending premiere? Excited? Nervous? Harried? Or, somehow, calm and at peace? The premiere takes months to prepare. Covid has not impacted preparation yet, as most of the logistical stuff can be done remotely...marketing etc. Parts are currently being learned (beyond the recording ensemble) by all involved and we won’t rehearse before July. These are professionals and we all have other ‘gigs’ to do!! Everyone who enters Carnegie must wear a mask and apparently be vaccinated. We all have to show proof. We are all operating in a vigilant way and only vaccinated players and singers are being employed. My emotions are varied. I’m excited (of course)! ...I will be nervous, I’m working on it much of the time now, but I meditate a lot and so I’m usually pretty calm and at peace. You have to be very very organized and Carnegie are wonderful at learning us through all the steps to steadily advance the show. It’s not the whirlwind that you might imagine, rather an exercise in methodically chipping away as the date gets closer. Suffice to say, there will inevitably be some harried moments nearer the time but all is going very well so far!! Come to the concert, bring you family, colleagues and everyone you know! There are many discounts available to teachers, medics, veterans, musicians, seniors and students! Just reach out to me...This is about humanity for humanity!! 14) How did the particular group of performers on this recording come together? How many of them will be participating in the Carnegie Hall live premiere? The recording ensemble were mostly employed from the Boston area, have worked with Eugene Friesen or myself in the past and all of them will be among the 56 on the stage! Ironically the rest of the ensemble are from NYC not Boston so there is a healthy mix of amazing talent from the East Coast coming together. All of these singers are professional and perform and record as soloists or in choirs all the time. 15) What are your plans for the immediate future? And, where do you hope to see yourself ten years from now? After Carnegie, we are taking a vacation :) but I’m also in the middle of planning a tour both in America and overseas and I’m composing more already, too! Mainly choral works and more art songs but have many other genres and concepts floating around my head! 16) Are there any questions I have not asked that you wished had been asked? If so, what are those, and how would you answer them? This is a wonderful set of questions! Thank You! I hope I have given some meaningful answers.
AMOR AETERNUS- by RJ LANNAN 2022 - Artisan Music Reviews The Requiem did not begin with Mozart, but his is one of the most notable undertakings of the form. Until now. More than a lifetime in the making, pianist and composer Heidi Breyer’s latest release, Amor Aeternus - A Requiem for the Common Man is her most complex and creative release to date. Breyer is usually known for her contemporary and New Age piano compositions, but Amor Aeternus is a work that, especially in 2022, is a prayer for all mankind. This is music that touches us in the deepest parts of our souls. Places we never reveal to anyone else. Breyer’s reverent and passionate ten track recording is our primal scream in the wilderness that is today. It beseeches our God(s) to give us hope, give us peace, and give us life. Traditionally, a requiem is a mass for the dead, but truthfully, music is performed to console the living. Heidi Breyer’s requiem follows some of the traditional structure of the form, but not all. She chooses to omit the Dies Irae and gives us instead, an expansive Lacrimosa, (Day of Mourning). She begins with the Introit which has an introductive mix of sorrowful strings as the chorus sings “Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine”. “Eternal rest give unto them, O Lord”. Breyer’s sparse notes give way to impassioned voice and dolorous strings in a delicate entreaty. Kyrie Eleison is a plea for mercy. What more can this poor soul do Lord, once I am yours? This simple prayer is infused with Breyer’s hauntingly beautiful piano in a lament that is, if anything, quite soul searching. Baritone Nathan Halbur sings the simple prayer combined with Jill Haley’s English horn and the chorus to make the spirit weep with emotion. Lord, have mercy on us. Breyer offers a somber piano introduction on Domine Jesu Christie. Together with the Sanctus, this section of the requiem features a complex polyphonic choral part with soaring vocals and a full string background that is as deep as it is soul stirring. The polyphonic weaving continues throughout the Sanctus and ends with a sculptural string accompaniment expressed in a complex form. Hosanna in the Highest. My favorite track on Amor Aeternus is the one called Lacrimosa. The Tears. One cannot avoid the powerful sentiment encountered in this epiphanic lament. Breyer’s strong hand at composition is evident in this emotionally driven piece. It represents all of mankind weeping for the desolation, the void, and the sadness that each soul finds when faced with loss. The substantial piano overlay is intermixed with the chorus, creating a sense of ebb and flow in an ocean of tears. Lux Aeterna, or Perpetual Light is one of the more tender tunes. Soothing angelic chorus and a soft, poignant piano ostinato decorated with gentle strings make this a comfort for any troubled soul. Deliver Me or Libera Me is a responsive piece of overlapping polyphony and strong violin vying for the attention of God’s ear. There is more than one time change as glory is discovered and a state of grace envelops the petitioner seeking eternal life. “Deliver me, O Lord, from death eternal on that fearful day”. In Paradisum, a beautiful chant, finds the supplicant is a place of eternal peace and spiritual bliss. Breyer’s heavenly lead-in is diaphanous and full of light. The chorus affects a celebratory tone. The music is achingly beautiful as the angels declare, “Aeternam habeas requiem.” “May you have eternal rest. Amen.” I did not want it to end, but it did. Other tracks include Pie Jesu and Agnus Dei. This love, this eternal love…this fervent, passionate work should grace not only the towering heights of Liverpool Cathedral, but every empty space where a sadness dwells. It should be heard and be recognized as a reverent celebration during the ascension of every soul. Amor Aeternus - A Requiem for the Common Man is not in the New Age genre by any definition, but it combines World, Sacred, and classical music written for a modern age. This monumental work is not just to marshal the emotions of the single man or woman, but to effortlessly become the spiritual anthem for mankind. Bach, Brahms, Britten, and Breyer. It has a nice ring to it. Even if you are not a follower of liturgical based music, you are going to want to hear this. Your soul with thank you for it. This is a most excellent recording. https://www.heidibreyer.com/ - R J Lannan, Artisan Music Reviews
MOONLIGHT IN EMPTY ROOMS - by RJ LANNAN 2018 - Zone Music Reporter Listening to pianist Heidi Breyer's newest album, Moonlight in Empty Rooms I have come upon a happenstance where an old adage must be changed. I would now say it like this;; "A picture is worth a thousand notes." Breyer's work is contemporary piano at its best with twelve intoxicating instrumentals of light ensemble and solo piano works inspired by the muse of her dreams and the works of her husband realistic painter, Alexander Volkov. Let’s talk about Volkov first. Alex is an extraordinary painter whose heart and eyes transform everyday scenes into art that has to be seen to be believed. That being said, Breyer seems to have the same kind of magic. She sees with the eyes of her heart and transmutes that emotion of a visual into a glorious tune. All of the tracks on 'Moonlight in Empty Rooms' are written in response to a Volkov work. There is a bonus gift in the album package, a DVD that shows you melodically, the correlations that are possible when the two mediums are matched up. This is a review written for two. The album opens with the Unfinished Conversation. A candle hastily blown out and the remnants of wine in the bottom of a duplet of glasses are all the fragments of a promise. There is more to come. Heidi's crescendo is a display of emotion that claims nothing is yet finished. The tune then settles into an idyllic flow accompanied by violinist Charlie Bisharat. The colors in this one are muted, the quality poignant and polished. Autumn in Bruges is music for lovers. As it played I could picture a couple as they sit by the canal. They order up sweet wine and they laugh at each other's corny jokes. He reaches for her hand just as the sun utters goodnight. Volkov captures the moment in shadows and reflections. Heidi's music, like Alexander's light, splashes onto everything giving it more life. Heidi's tune is soft and sweet, and almost introspective at times. The title tune Moonlight in Empty Rooms begins with a brief, but haunting violin intro. Heidi's theme takes over and it is lush and expansive, yet thought provoking. Volkov's painting in subdued grays and whites offers stripes of moonlight that fall across the floor in an unoccupied space. The moonlight is so bright that you can imagine the motes floating in the air. The scene and the music invites you in to make your own scenario. Place the characters, open the windows, and arrange the furniture. Make it your own. It is music of opportunity, a pas de deux of unseen souls. It is the best cut on the album in my mind and one that I played over and over. I have always been a pluviophile, a lover of rainy weather so Rainy Day also became a favorite. Volkov offers a bunch of cornflowers in an old Mason jar positioned in front of a window. Rivulets run down the glass. But the sun may be ready to come out any minute. Breyer musically captures the scene just as the clouds begin to part. Her rich, memorable score is a bit melancholy, but it brightens quickly. Half Hour Before Spring, the painting, is what Volkov does best. He freezes a moment in time and we become witnesses to the instance. The pastel colors of dawn invites us in and we can feel the warmth as it softens the air. Heidi uses that subtle change in morning light to draw us to the music. Counterbalanced with the violin, she uses hopefulness in the notes to beckon us into the changing of the seasons. In the picture, there is still an icy glaze on much, but the music portends the first green any second now. There is a sense of sadness to see winter saying goodbye. A white church on a hillside of fall grass is the subject of Faith. The background features storm clouds, but the church is bathed in a pure, white light. That is faith. This complex, harmonically rich refrain is balanced by the violin that plays the part of the questioner and the piano which eventually offers grace. There is a sweet sadness to it all. It suggests the feeling of saudade, the sense that one's soul is searching for something it does not understand. Bisharat’s finale will give you chills. Violinist Charlie Bisharat was the perfect accompanist to Heidi Breyer's music. He has a method that is complimentary, more that obtrusive, like a friend who always knows just what to say. Breyer, herself wields alchemy on this album, confirming the ongoing partnership with more than a kindred spirit in Alex Volkov. The simpatico is phenomenal. Breyer is at the present at an apex in her composition skills, but I feel there is more to come. There is a notable intricacy from her previous releases, which makes you want to hear more. Despite what John Keats once said, we have heard the melodies and they are far sweeter. Mr. Keats, let me introduce you to HeidiBreyer, the composer. Rating: Excellent
MOONLIGHT IN EMPTY ROOMS - by KATHY PARSONS 2018 There are a lot of new albums released every year, but once in awhile, one comes along that is truly an artistic event. Heidi Breyer’s Moonlight in Empty Rooms is one of those. Subtitled “A Musical Study of the Art of Alexander Volkov,” the set includes a CD of the music, a DVD that includes all of the music plus visual images of the paintings that inspired the music (plus other images), and a 28-page booklet that includes photos of the paintings and thoughts about the artwork written by both Volkov and Breyer. (The music is available to download by itself, but the experience is so much richer with the visuals!) The music was produced by Breyer, Will Ackerman and Tom Eaton, and was engineered, mixed and mastered by Eaton. The twelve tracks are a combination of solo piano (Breyer) and piano with violin (the always-brilliant Charlie Bisharat). The video was designed and produced by Breyer and Volkov. Heidi Breyer was born in Great Britain and was conservatory-trained at the Trinity College of Music in London. Her albums have been among my favorites for several years, but this one is truly amazing. A true artist herself, Breyer’s composing and playing styles are elegant and graceful, with strong classical influences. The twelve pieces on the album are warm and peaceful, but there is a depth of emotion that expresses the beauty and simplicity of the paintings in a way that words could never match. Breyer has been composing music in response to Volkov’s paintings for almost ten years. As husband and wife, they live with each other’s artistry, creativity and passion for their work as no one else can. I’m thrilled to read that they plan this as Volume One of a series of collaborations that will evolve over the years. The paintings that are included express feelings of quiet peacefulness, as does Breyer’s music, bringing with it deep insight. Alexander Volkov emigrated to the US from St. Petersburg, Russia more than twenty-five years ago. His realistic paintings appear to be somewhat influenced by Andrew Wyeth’s work in that he takes everyday scenes and makes them extraordinary in their simplicity and beauty. Volkov’s paintings often make wonderful use of light - through windows, cracks or holes in walls, in nature, etc. - and makes that light a vibrant part of the subject. One of my favorites is “Eastertide,” which shows a toy stuffed rabbit on a comfortable chair, bathed in light. A simple vase of yellow flowers is also shadowed on the back of the chair. Such a simple idea that expresses so much. “Unfinished Conversation” is two wine glasses, neither of which is completely empty. Between them is a candle that was very recently extinguished because there is smoke rising from the wick. A window with sheer curtains is on the left side, but on the right is darkness. The only color in the otherwise black, gray and white painting is the red wine in the glasses and a tiny spark at the end of the candle wick. It’s a peaceful but very powerful image. Moonlight in Empty Rooms is nothing short of a masterpiece and I give it my highest recommendation. The music CD/download is 61 minutes, and so is the DVD. They are available from Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby.
LETTERS FROM FAR AWAY MICHAEL DIAMOND– 2015 Music and Media Focus. Just before beginning to write this feature article on pianist/ composer Heidi Breyer’s new release, Letters From Far Away, I went back and revisited the one I wrote about her excellent 2012 album Beyond The Turning. It concluded with a quote from Heidi that makes an excellent segue to this release. In her words: “Our creations are an affirmation of life...whatever form they take, they are the legacy we leave, reflecting the most poignant moments of our short time here. All I know is that the only thing we can share, and the only thing we own, is that split second of time that slips between our fingers, that breathtaking moment of life called now.” The liner notes for Letters From Far Away begin with these thoughts from Heidi that echo similar sentiment: “Like grains of sand that form the dunes, it is the multitude of seemingly insignificant events that comprise our life and being. At any given time, we have no way of knowing how important that moment may be, until perhaps much later. And therefore, they are all equally important. It is love, however, that connects everything through time and space... love is the wind that shapes the dunes.” These are inspiring thoughts, and part of the reason I am focusing on them is because there is a lot of deep thought and intention that has gone into this recording project overall. For one, it is a “concept album,” in which all the songs revolve around a central theme. In this case, the theme is Heidi’s musical interpretation of a handful of experiences in the story of one couple who met in post-WWII Europe, came from two different countries and at that time, against all odds, they walked the rest of their lives together. And in the larger picture, it is about love in all forms as a common denominator and unifying principle. Each song on the album relates to a facet of this theme and tells a chapter of the story, lending somewhat of a literary dimension to the album as well as a musical one. Before delving into the music and the story, there is another interesting and intriguing aspect to share about thisrelease. That has to do with the fact thatLetters From Far Away is a double CD – but not just a double album in the usual sense. One disc is an ensemble recording that not only features Heidi on piano, but also includes a host of world-class accompanists from the studio of Grammy winning Windham Hill Records founder Will Ackerman, who co-produced the album along with Heidi and Tom Eaton, who also engineered, mixed, and mastered the album. The second disc contains solo piano versions of the same songs in the same order. According to Heidi: “The initial concept for this project was to release my first piano solo album where each track would stand in its own right specifically as a solo piece.” But as it evolved, she began to imagine a violin here, a cello there, and so on. What developed eventually in the course of Heidi’s creative process was a complete ensemble album. Hence, she decided to release both incarnations of the same story in one double album, which incidentally is the same price as a single album. As well as being a great value for the listener, this project also marks Heidi’s entrance into the solo piano genre, as well as the continuation of her work as an ensemble composer. For the purpose of this feature article, I’ll be focusing primarily on the ensemble pieces, since a detailed description of both versions would be exceedingly lengthy. So lets open the first chapter of this musical story, which, for the record, is not fictional, but is based on the actual lives of two real people. The curtain rises on a track called “All The Good Things.” This piece is like a prequel that sets the scene and portrays life in those times as being “uncomplicated – when it was about doing simple things and doing them well.” The music, which begins, of course, with Heidi’s piano is peaceful and easy going. As the piece progresses, she is joined by long-time Will Ackerman collaborator Jill Haleyon English horn, who enters softly with serene and simple accompaniment. Also adding to the mix with his soulful strings is GRAMMY winning cellist Eugene Friesen, who is best known for his work with The Paul Winter Consort. As on most projects recorded at Will Ackerman’s Imaginary Road Studios, the accompaniment is generally understated and supportive, without drawing attention away from the primary artist. The next song, “Small Café” describes the meeting place of the two soon-to-be lovers;; he, a young English R.A.F. recruit stationed in Germany, and she, the daughter of the local high school Deputy Head. The piece, which features the clarinet and sax of Billy Novick, has wonderful dynamics, which rise and fall gracefully. I also appreciated Heidi’s exquisite use of space in her playing. Another excellent example of this is on “First Impressions,” of which Heidi says: “First impressions may form some of our deepest memories. They are the first grains of sand that form the dunes.” In addition to her alternately powerful and subtle piano work, Heidi adds ethereal wordless vocals that seem to drift in from far away. Vocalist Noah Wilding is also featured in a similar way on the album. A stately waltz entitled “Old Photograph,” also highlights the talents of one of my favorite violinists, Charlie Bisharat, who has played with Yanni, John Tesh, and many others. The album’s title track has a more melancholy ambience, which is appropriate considering that it is a musical interpretation of a five-year period that the lovers were separated and communicated by writing letters. The depth of emotion that Heidi brings to this piece is heart wrenching and its poignancy is further accentuated by the song’s sonorous string accompaniment. A real surprise, and a most pleasant one at that on this album of primarily original material is a unique instrumental version of Simon and Garfunkel’s classic “Scarborough Fair.” It would be an understatement to say that Heidi has taken great liberty and artistic license in her radically reworked rendition. But I must say that I was impressed with Heidi’s bold interpretation of this iconic composition, which also features one of the album’s largest ensembles accompanying her. The recording ends like it began, in simplicity and serenity with a reflective piece called “Starry Pond.” I will comment briefly, that listening to the solo piano versions made for an interesting contrast in some ways. As mentioned, the accompaniment on the ensemble tracks is often sparse and lightly supports the piano, so that it is not necessarily a night and day difference between them and the solo piano. However, with the piano on its own in the spotlight, various elements of Heidi’s playing and composing were more in focus. Having listened first to the ensemble CD, and then to the solo CD, I felt that all the songs stood exceptionally well on their own, and I didn’t have a sense that anything was missing without the accompaniment. Part of Heidi’s goal with this double album was to expand on her notoriety as an ensemble player/composer, and establish herself in the solo piano genre. To this end, I believe she has perfectly achieved what she set out to do. Each disc is perfect in its own right, and gives the listener great insight into the creative process of this talented artist. When I asked Heidi in an interview, why she is a musician. Her reply was: “I am a musician because I can’t not be one. Music is a part of the fabric of who I am.” While this double album is an expansion of Heidi’s formats, another facet of her creative spectrum may be on the horizon. As she explains: “Most of my music is written in response to a visual or emotional stimulus. I find it incredibly easy to translate the visual to music...and I believe, naive or not, that my true gift lies in writing music for TV and film.” As she prepares to take classes in film scoring, the music of Heidi Breyer may be coming to a theater near you in the not too distant future. But in the meantime, Heidi has provided us with a treasure trove of beautiful recorded music, as well as an upcoming fifth CD to look forward to. Heidi Breyer is a truly remarkable instrumentalist and composer whose expressive and melodic range is impressive, as is her emotionally evocative touch on the keyboard. Letters From Far Away is musical storytelling at its best and illuminates the talents of a rising star in the piano world.
VARIOUS REVIEWS AND QUOTES of all of Heidi's Previous Albums MOONLIGHT IN EMPTY ROOMS- BILL BINKELMAN on 1/14/2018 Pianist Heidi Breyer’s husband, Alexander Volkov, is a wonderful painter of exquisite beauty in a style that blends intense neo-realism with a palpable sense of nostalgia. She is immersed in the artistic setting, i.e. surrounded by beautiful paintings from conception to conclusion, so that this environment has not just seeped into her musical persona, but one might say, symbiotically joined with it. It's easy to see why this relationship between his art and her music has evolved since she is in his studio and helps run the business on a daily basis. In Heidi's own words, while watching him paint..." I see what evolves and if it speaks to me, I'll know it by the middle stages of the painting process. I don't necessarily write something there and then, but when I get a window, if the painting is still haunting me, I will go to my studio and be gone for an intense amount of time and will write the piece until I'm satisfied with the concept.” Heidi has been composing music inspired by Alexander’s paintings for ten years now. Finally, the time has come for her to share this special relationship she has with her husband's artwork on Moonlight In Empty Rooms, an amazing achievement in music reflecting images and the emotional impact of both. Breyer singled out twelve compositions and the paintings associated with them, each song titled after that piece of art. Packaging of the album is fantastic, presented as a gorgeous digipack with extremely voluminous and insightful liner notes (including Volkov’s artwork) about each painting’s and each song’s origin and interpretation, as well as an overview of the why and wherefore of the project itself (including a little snippet from Volkov about his artwork). Besides the CD, the digipack features a DVD which directly marries Breyer's music to Volkov's artwork (created with Adobe Premier software). So, you get the added emotional impact of listening to these exquisite neo-classical duets while watching the artwork to which it is linked unfold – a truly immersive experience. Joining Breyer on each of the twelve selections is session violinist extraordinaire, Charlie Bisharat. However, if all you have heard from him is his great work in support of the many Imaginary Road Studio recordings produced by Will Ackerman and Tom Eaton, prepare to hear a whole other side of his violin artistry. Bisharat displays true classical chops and a playing style that will be a revelation to many of his fans, I’d wager. While there is unmistakable classical crossover theme present on the album, I was also (more than once) reminded of classic pop music of the ‘40s, perhaps of the jazz/torch song era. The melodies seemed to evoke that sensation for me. More than once I envisioned a chanteuse singing in an after-hours club, the kind of tragic romantic music that typified that style of music. On the other hand, perhaps that is just my personal evocation. Regardless, even if one does slot the album into the neo-classical genre, it is most certainly romantic music at its core, with only a few moments that elevate into power and drama. Breyer’s control of nuance and shading is a marvel throughout the disc, no matter what tempo, volume, or mood she is playing. Yet, what is just as striking is the sense of intimacy, the immediateness of her performance, especially on the more reflective, pensive tunes. This is when it becomes obvious how deeply felt these compositions are to her and how intermeshed they are in her appreciation and affinity for her husband’s artistic talents. In an email exchange with her, I compared her piano music with Alex’s paintings as two strands of DNA, intertwined to yield a single trait. Singling out specific tracks is akin to singling out one of Volkov’s paintings, i.e. it would be more a matter of how one song struck you and less of an evaluative process. Yes, some tracks here touch me more deeply, such as pensive and gently melancholic “Autumn Snowfall,” but I believe Moonlight In Empty Rooms plays best as a whole, not as the sum of its admittedly beautiful parts. The opening playfulness on “Autumn in Bruges” leads way to a more wistful and even sad main melody, albeit one with energy and a fast tempo at times. The title track is ushered in by Bisharat’s initial violin solo which gives way to a reflective piano tone poem by Breyer, and soon the two artists pirouette together, dancers in a song that combines a forceful sense of passion with a tangible but subtle feeling of loneliness. As one might expect, “The Sound And The Fury” brims with power and drama, interspersed with brief moments of respite. “Faith” (which unless I am deaf or clueless, features Bisharat multi-tracked) carries distinct hymn-like qualities during his opening solo segment, segueing to Breyer incorporating what sounds like elements of “Praise God of Whom All Blessing Flow;;” not really riffing on it or extrapolating from it, but more using the opening note progression as a jumping off point. It is the longest track on the album and both Breyer and Bisharat play it out as an ode to the power of the titular word. The album closes with the sublime “End Of Summer,” and again, I hear echoes of classic torch songs, but here meshed with a tone poem aesthetic. There is sadness and remembrance at work here, but also fondness of memory. I haven’t even begun to attempt to describe Alexander Volkov’s paintings in this review, but truly, they are an essential aspect of appreciating Heidi Breyer’s music and playing. Again, in her own words, “This is a phenomenon to us and we are quite surprised by its evolution and the fact that it seems to be a living breathing thing that is not going away. It is why we do everything together, suffocating though it might be at times, we breath very much the same inspiration and it goes around in circles between us...” Easily the best work Heidi Breyer has yet recorded, Moonlight In Empty Rooms is as deeply felt and masterfully recorded (piano recorded at Imaginary Road Studios and mixing and mastering by Tom Eaton) an album as I’ve heard this past year. Special seems wholly inadequate in describing this work from a truly gifted artist. __________________________ CONTEMPORARY FUSION REVIEWS Rotcod Zzaj Heidi Breyer with Charlie Bisharat totally stunning piano portraits Heidi Breyer with Charlie Bisharat – MOONLIGHT IN EMPTY ROOMS: The thing that (most) sets Heidi’s lovely piano work apart from all the other gifted artists is her total control of the instrument... and, not in the sense of “rigidity”... it’s just that her playing feels so natural and free because of her pacing... her work with Charlie on violin, especially on the amazing opener, “Unfinished Conversation“, is beyond compare... on this composition, she also demonstrates that she has the POWER to communicate in full glory... check out the wonderfully strong chords she uses at the :41 second mark to talk with Charlie... again – AMAZING! The album is actually an intimate and emotional musical study of the work of her husband, Alexander Volkov, a highly talented visual artist... and the package includes a wonderful DVD that illustrates her ability to reach deep into her soul and paint wonderful portraits with her piano that will stay fixed in your mind eternally... just listen to the composition that moved me to memories of long-ago days in the wintry climes of Northwestern Pennsylvania (where I grew up)... “Autumn Snowfall” is one of the pieces highlighted on the DVD, and you’ll find yourself watching it over and over again, as I did. Heidi’s work has always been a favorite experience;; I’ve reviewed several of her albums, most recently in issue # 165, but this new release is absolutely the best work I’ve ever heard from her. One of the strongest piano/violin works I’ve heard (yet) in 2018 is the 4:17 “The Sound and The Fury“... she and Charlie move and play together perfectly to sonically illustrate one of Alexander’s most powerful visuals... flawless recording and the deep involvement of both players makes this a piece that I believe will be nominated for (and win) awards! The piece that (hands-down) won my vote for personal favorite is the marvelously intricate movement on “Faith“, which features a painting Alexander did of a small church in (of all places) Vermont, where my mother’s parents lived for decades – so, this song has special meaning to me... simple, but beautiful! I give Heidi and Charlie a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for this excellent hour of creativity, with a (perfect) “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 5.00... meaning that it also gets my “PICK” for “best piano/violin album”. NEW AGE MUSIC REVIEWS 5/5 Stars Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck March 9, 2018 Founder of: MuzikMan Productions Moonlight In Empty Rooms is Heidi Breyer’s fifth proper album. She worked exclusively with Charlie Bisharat, a superb violinist. The combination of piano and violins are not strange bedfellows. They both complement each other exquisitely, just like it was meant to be. It most certainly sounds that way to me when I hear that combination, which is often in the new age genre. The album is a musical tribute to her husband Alexander Volkav’s artwork. I saw a few of the pictures of his work and they are absolutely stunning. They are so lifelike and crystal clear, that you will find it hard to believe that a human being actually painted them. Moonlight In Empty Rooms is like a river of songs moving along as nature would have it. When you see the water from far away it does not look like its moving too fast, as you get closer you can see what is really happening. This music is comparative to that. It is calm and engaging as it gently invites you in. Once you step through that door of complete envelopment in the tracks, you are now moving right along with it, up close and personal. Like the art that Alexander creates, it is placed on a canvas of different shades and colors. Each track is a separate work of art just like her husband’s paintings. I often describe music in this fashion and honestly think the comparison is relative. Art comes in all forms and colors and so does music. You, the listener, are the open canvas ready for the music to create something within your heart, mind, and soul. I think Heidi accomplishes that with this gorgeous music. It comes presented with strong musicianship and accomplished production values. Moonlight In Empty Rooms sets the standard at a high level for instrumental new age and classical recordings. This is as good as it gets. __________________________ DYAN GARRIS for New Age CD.com 2018 This is an undeniably exquisite Neo-classical piano and violin album by award winning composer and pianist, Heidi Breyer. Her 5th album, “Moonlight in Empty Rooms” is twelve tracks, each inspired by the original paintings of her husband, Russian-American oil painter, Alexander Volkov. The violin performances on the album are by Charlie Bisharat, an American Grammy® Award-winning violinist. Bisharat has performed with Yanni, John Tesh, Elton John, The Rolling Stones, and many other notables. The album was produced at Imaginary Road Studios, home to Grammy® winning guitarist, producer, and founder of Windham Hill Records, Will Ackerman. Volkov describes his fine art as “. . .always a story of light traveling through darkness.” “Moonlight in Empty Rooms” is a superb reflection and interpretation of that story, and like rich icing on a luscious cake, it’s the perfect counterpart. A booklet and a DVD both come along with the physical album. The booklet contains images of the artwork with inspirational snippets. The DVD is comprised of 12 videos;; footage of Volkov’s artwork set to Breyer’s exceptional music. Track 1, “An Unfinished Conversation,” opens the album brilliantly and sets the stage for the promise of much more to come. Passionate, emotional, and tender, this feels like the story of a meaningful soul relationship that lasts not only throughout this lifetime, but through eternity, with always more to learn and experience no matter where the road of life leads. Track 3 is the charming, “Autumn in Bruges.” Bruges is a picturesque town in Belgium with a rich medieval history. “Autumn in Bruges” is captivating with its cascading nuances conjuring up images of cobblestone streets, romantic canals, and bell towers. “Moonlight in Empty Rooms” the title track, is full of graceful movement and ambiance, the piano layered sumptuously throughout with the violin. Each nuance and subtlety is carefully coaxed out of hiding and brought forth to blend together in perfect harmony, like expert brushstrokes on a canvas begin to form a masterpiece. You can feel the resultant light right in your heart. The composition, “Rainy Day,” on track 7, is exquisitely beautiful and hauntingly so. It’s a favorite of mine on the album. The violin performance is exceptional, forming a lush tapestry with Breyer’s gentle, evocative, and expressive piano performance. There is something that really speaks to the depths of the soul here. This is peace. Deep and satisfying peace. “End of Summer” winds up the album and reminds us, similarly as in track 1, that even as the light of summer fades, there is always more to come. There is always the story. We love it. Highly and most definitely recommended. __________________________ JONATHAN WIDRAN April 24th 2018 In an overwhelmingly positive review I wrote about Heidi Breyer’s Beyond The Turning – rightfully chosen ZMR’s Best Instrumental Piano Album 2012 – I mentioned that she had been on an extraordinary journey of self-discovery that culminated in this work, which I described as “a heartfelt and evocative, introspective and ultimately universal look at humanity and the sometimes joyous, often embattled path we take to ultimately find our path home.” Listening now, six years later, to Moonlight in Empty Rooms, an epic 12 song new age/neo-classical collection of artful and transcendent, alternately poignant and whimsical pieces driven by her impressions of works by her realist painter husband Alexander Volkov, I realize more than ever what “home” means to this multi-talented artist. Just as we can’t imagine watching films without a score, there’s something emotionally powerful about that place between artistic worlds where music helps our hearts better understand what our eyes may have missed. This album, produced by Heidi with Windham Hill legend Will Ackerman and engineer/mixer extraordinaire Tom Eaton, gives us a rare opportunity to contemplate each work and perhaps dream for several minutes as Heidi takes us on a whirlwind journey with the exquisite harmonies and counterpoint voice of the masterful veteran violinist Charlie Bisharat. Listening to a loving wife envelop her passions around places her husband calls “a space where there’s no tomorrow or yesterday, where there are no projections for the future and no excuses for the past,” I am reminded of something a dear writer friend of mine wrote about his in-laws who were married for 60 years: “They’d grown together like intertwined roots that were never meant to survive a severing.” Heidi’s eloquent liner notes next to each of Alexander’s images serve as something of a guided tour of where the muse takes her and how – but even without those detailed explanations, her pure piano poetry speaks volumes about the meanings of love and life. It might be an interesting experiment to listen to Moonlight in Empty Rooms first, reading along and studying the artwork – and then just hearing the music by itself and going on your own excursion of self-discovery. The set begins with two and a half minutes of beautiful hypnotic ivory meditation before Bisharat’s voice enters the moment, hoping to create a dialogue on a higher level. Heidi responds by alternating tempos as if in search of the perfect way to connect. Alexander finds beauty in the dying of trees amidst a stark winter landscape on “Autumn Snowfall,” which inspires Heidi to create interesting contrasts between moody, shadowy contemplation and a few hopeful high notes as Bisharat swirls about like gently falling snow. “Autumn in Bruges” reflects on that same season but in a whole different way, amidst the many images competing for our attention in Alexander’s late in the day empty street in the famed Belgian city – bicycles, lit and shadowed trees, brick pavement, a distant steeple and inky sky. Heidi captures the lighthearted whimsy of possibility, then eases into a bright waltz-like dance with Bisharat, which rolls like a pleasurable stroll, ripe for new adventures, down the street. As for the heartfelt, gracefully inviting “Christian’s Workshop,” we may not know who Christian was, but Alexander’s painting of a long ago abandoned woodshop, looking out streaked windows into the light, allows us to create a character of our own choosing. Heidi and Alexander work that way, drawing us in to fill out the characters and places they shed cracks of light on. As it flows on, Moonlight in Empty Rooms continues to expand our collective heart’s possibilities, with Heidi creating a lovely, swaying sense of camaraderie with Bisharat, dancing in empty room where lit by distant moonlight on the title track;; celebrating a beloved pet’s peaceful transition from slumber to being awake at “Eastertide”;; letting a gentle rain spark moments of sorrow and wistful nostalgia on a quiet “Rainy Day”;; and, on “The Sound and the Fury,” tackling the deeper roars of nature with passion, power and intensity via intense chords jamming with Bisharat’s hard to pin down flights of fancy. The last third of the album takes us through the seasons, with the gentle unfolding sweetness of a “Winter Rose” giving way to hope for a season of rebirth a “Half Hour before Spring” and concluding with a simply stated reminiscence at the “End of Summer.” Bridging those last two tracks is “Faith,” presented as a deeply lived, internal mood swinging struggle to believe in and understand God, set against the simple image of a country church in a yellow field with storm clouds gathering in rural Vermont. Heidi’s quote about her music is as relevant to her mastery on Moonlight in Empty Rooms as it was when she said it earlier in her career: “I bring to my music, and to everything I do in my life, all that I am and all that I have experienced -- and I’m finding in music that approach leads to success more often than in life. I bring every emotion, including those I share as a student, parent and teacher, those I give when I love and those private alone times, which if it weren’t for the music, might be forgotten. I feel completely privileged and honored to be on this journey and feel the adrenaline and excitement of it all when I’m at the piano composing.” The Moonlight in Empty Rooms Package includes a DVD with videos that delve deeper into the album's theme and official subtitle, "A Musical Study of the Art of Alexander Volkov." LETTERS FROM FAR AWAY 2015 PRESS RELEASE 2015 For “Letters From Far Away” Press inquiries: Glass Onyon PR, PH: 828-350-8158, firstname.lastname@example.org Pianist and Composer Heidi Breyer Releases A Breathtaking New Album “Letters From Far Away” Featuring Legendary Will Ackerman “The music is at once technically breathtaking and emotionally intimate. A rare and wonderful combination.” – Will Ackerman Frenchtown, NJ – Pianist and composer Heidi Breyer has released a breathtaking new album of unparalleled beauty titled “Letters From Far Away.” The new release is a double solo and piano instrumental album and Heidi’s debut production alongside legendary Will Ackerman (Founder Windham Hill Records) and Tom Eaton. The album was recorded, mixed and mastered at Imaginary Road Studios in Vermont and Studio Sound in LA. Says Heidi, “ ‘Letters From Far Away’ is my musical interpretation of a handful of experiences in the story of one couple, each from different countries, who met in 1960 and after 5 years apart, against all odds, walked the rest of their lives together. It is also about love in all it’s forms, how love is the common denominator that transcends time and links the generations over the course of decades. It is the one thing that connects us.all.” Winner of ZMR Best Instrumental piano Album 2012, Nominated ZMR Best Holiday Album 2011, Winner of ZMR Best Instrumental Piano Album 2010 and Best New Artist 2010, Heidi Breyer has four albums to her credit – Winter Light 2009, Another Place and Time 2010, Beyond The Turning 2012, Letters From Far Away 2015. She has performed on stages worldwide and opened the first ever live ZMR Awards show performing with Premik Russell- (Sting), Jill Haley and Michael Ronstadt. Her music has been featured on many compilations including the Grammy Nominated Album for Best Spoken Word, “The Storm King” an Auto Biographical Narration by the late Pete Seeger, Produced by Jeff Haynes, also The Gathering (West River Records), Many Miles Music (Seattle based label) and Sounds of The Circle by Suzanne Doucet. British born and conservatory educated at Trinity College of Music in London, Heidi Breyer now resides in the artistic community of Frenchtown, NJ, an inspiring setting where she composes her music, prepares for her multi-media concerts, teaches and manages the business of world-renowned Russian painter, Alexander Volkov. “Heidi Breyer continues to amaze with her evolution as a composer and as a performer. The range of styles represented in Letters From Far Away is considerable, but like the outer planets in our solar system, these are held together by the gravity and persuasion of Breyer’s Artistic Voice.” – Will Ackerman, Grammy winning Guitarist, Producer, Imaginary Road Studios and founder of Windham Hill Records. And now, in 2015, Heidi has released her most stunning achievement to date, the new album “Letters From Far Away”! Says Heidi, “I wrote the entire collection with the intention of releasing my first piano solo project. But in the very first session the opportunity for some major counter- melody from other specific instruments was revealing itself to me. The main instrumental voices that I was imagining were cello, violin, guitar and English Horn, mostly because I have worked with these sounds before and have an understanding of their capacity for expression within my music. Clarinet was non-negotiable on Small Cafe. Every time I hear that instrument it propels me back in time and for that piece as with all others, it was the only option. Then saxophone, french horn and bass guitar...all came very naturally... “Will Ackerman has amazing perceptual awareness. He has mentored me for several years now, both in regard to my music and helping me to further discover and push my own development as an artist. He knows when to step back and when to guide. As this project progressed he was clearly observing my need for specifics...not just instrumentally but also melodically, harmonically and rhythmically and yet he also knew when to bring forth his knowledge and experience for the better. Along with Tom Eaton’s own depth of production experience, I think we made a pretty good team! All the session players I work with are in their own right top-shelf artists. Many of them are on all of my albums. They really listened, understood and interpreted accurately and delivered, in my opinion, flawlessly. The list of players I worked with (and hope to again) include but are not limited to Eugene Friesen, Jill Haley, Charlie Bisharat, Gus Sebring, Mark Schulman, Will Ackerman.” Here’s what’s being said about Heidi Breyer’s “Letters From Far Away”: “ ‘Letters From Far Away’ is a love story that began more than five decades ago across the briny Atlantic. For the world, it was a time of new beginnings. For the lovers it was the birth of something so inexplicable that neither poets with their rhymes, nor philosophers with their thoughts could define it. Until now. It would take extraordinary music to explain it. Enter pianist Heidi Breyer. She takes on the monumental task of telling a story that does not appear in known fairytales, but in the chronicles of the heart. Using her incredible composition skills, she offers not one, but two eleven-track disks of solo piano and its companion instrumental pieces. She takes on the role of bard, storyteller, musician, and singer – a modern day Scheherazade. The contemporary music is twenty-two glimpses into the history of lovers that came from two different worlds and whose devotion was strong enough and endured long enough to build a single world of love. Let us meet the lovers.” – RJ Lannen, Zone Music Reporter “A new release by Heidi Breyer is always worth waiting for, but this time she has out done herself and her deeply meaningful creation of Letters from far Away, will be regarded by her fans and the followers of piano based music, as real raising of the musical bar, her many listeners, of which I urge you to be one of, will be deeply moved for an eternity by this incredible release.” – Steve Sheppard, OWMR “Heidi Breyer’s ‘Letters From Far Away’ is an amazing collection of lovely piano based music. I particularly loved the idea of having a double CD set- One with Solo Piano versions and the other with subtle arrangements. Being a musician I could see the tremendous amount of attention to detail that has gone into the writing and performance. As a pure listener, I loved the option to chose which CD to listen to based on my mood. Overall a fantastic musical experience and I wish Heidi all the best for this wonderful work.” – Ricky Kej, Grammy Winner Producer, 2015 of New Age Album of the year, (Winds of Samsara) “Heidi has provided us with a treasure trove of beautiful recorded music, as well as an upcoming fifth CD to look forward to. Heidi Breyer is a truly remarkable instrumentalist and composer whose expressive and melodic range is impressive, as is her emotionally evocative touch on the keyboard. Letters From Far Away is musical storytelling at its best and illuminates the talents of a rising star in the piano world. – Michael Diamond, Music and Media Focus.” “Heidi’s music is the perfect synthesis of academia and passion. This is music informed by years of study and a rich life. The music is at once technically breathtaking and emotionally intimate. A rare and wonderful combination.” – Will Ackerman In closing Heidi has this to impart, “Music is an elixir for life, love, catharsism and general well being. Always has been and always will be... My music is written to nourish and combat the impact of today’s crazy, restless world, but it is not music for meditation relaxation...I do not strive to help empty the mind through musical meditation. There is a lot of great New Age Music that already does this successfully. I present an alternative perspective, deliver a brief but thoughtful departure to another life imagined through the music, and bring the listener back through the same escape route to reality, feeling a refreshed and grounded in their real lives. I believe the New Age music genre is breaking through to a new era at the very moment it is needed. We know that certain types of music are a part of most peoples daily balancing act. But in addition, we are observing that our human psyche is evolving and we are using our core (our soul, our intuition) to guide us more and more and not just our 5 known senses (that tell us the immediate things)...I believe our instinctive leaning toward New Age music contributes to that ‘beacon’. It is music for our lifestyles. It is one of the facets of the balancing act that we will become more and more reliant upon, almost medicinally. I for one, know that I am someone who can help in that regard. So the message is...check out New Age Music. Check out all of my music and see how it can truly help you.” BEYOND THE TURNING 2012 HOT INDIE NEWS KEITH CHACHKES – 8/5/14 Epic. Somber. Introspective. Deep. Enigmatic. Whimsical. These are a few of the terms I might use to describe the piano stylings of HEIDI BREYER. However, simply trying to boil down all of her talents as a thoughtful player and songwriter down to the bare essence may not quite do justice to the masterpiece that is her third album, Beyond the Turning...read more Culling together her many influences from Classical, Jazz, New Age and Progressive Rock (channeling the late Richard Wright of PINK FLOYD at times), Heidi truly does “paint in sound” as her biography suggests. Using the emotional framework of the events in the world the last few years as a sonic allegory of sorts, Beyond the Turning takes your soul on a journey of discovery. The heartfelt opener “Farewell” has a sense of calming dismay to it and sets the mood for the majority of the album. “World Without End” continues the trek inward, slowly uncovering feelings of peace and resolve in its musical DNA. Breyer has a jazz master’s touch when it comes to song craft and certainly her romantic side comes through in place like the soothing “Rive Droite”. Other tracks such as “The Long Way Home (Passage 1)”,“My Peace Piece” and “Eight Steps Free” have a nice laid back, soulful quality that tie the album together nicely. Not only does Heidi have a splendid voice, she augments her performance with the heavenly sounds of Samite. She has an all-star team of talents pitching in to help, who take many excellent songs to the next level like cellist Eugene Friesen, violinist Charlie Bisharat, superstar bassist Michael Manring (solo bass on “Joy of The Road”), Jill Haley’s horn playing and David Cullen’s immense guitar work among others. Among the top tracks of the album “Tea and Sympathy”, “Moondancing”, “Adungu Inspiration” and the title track wind down the album in top notch fashion. These songs are full of little stories, each measure further revealing memories and feelings that will surely stir in the coldest souls out there. __________________________ ANOTHER PLACE AND TIME 2010 BILL BINKELMAN - ZMR Even when compared to the unbelievably high quality of music evidenced on most of the recordings that issue forth from Imaginary Road studios and the production team of Will Ackerman and Corin Nelsen, pianist Heidi Anne Breyer‘s Another Place and Time... is a superlative album. This one of those CDs that, as soon as I made it through the first three cuts, I knew it was going to land a special place on “permanently playable” shelf. Similar in mood and style to Tim Story’s “tragic beauty trilogy” (Beguiled, The Perfect Flaw, and Shadowplay), yet also more diverse (owing to the presence of more accompanists than Story’sCDs featured), Another Place and Time... is a highly introspective album, absolutely perfect for the seasons of late autumn and early winter, when many of us retreat into ourselves and our dwellings, to pause, reflect, remember, and (for some of us) regret. There is a distinctly discernible melancholic mood which permeates the music, although not in such a way that will bring the listener down as much as invite the listener “in.” In addition to the somberness of the music (one of the traits Breyer shares with Story) another is the minimalism of the piano itself. While there are no electronic keyboards (which Story uses), Ackerman enlisted many of his usual suspects as guest artists, among them Jill Haley on English horn, Jeff Oster on trumpet and flugelhorn, Eugene Friesen on cello, Noah Wilding on vocals, and the estimable Charlie Bisharat on violin. It goes without saying that everyone here performs at their characteristic high level (there must be something in the water at Imaginary Roads). There is one solo piano track and one which is solo but on which Breyer also sings and plays recorder (two songs with lyrics are on the album, but the vocals are submerged enough that instrumental music lovers should not be deterred). I couldn’t pick a favorite track on this CD for the life of me. All Souls Lullaby opens the album and the piano/English horn (Haley) duet is heartbreakingly beautiful and flows with genuine sadness. On His Wings features Oster and Bisharat and is actually even more somber (Bisharat, who usually swirls and flits with abandon, distinguishes himself here with his grace and subtlety). The two vocal numbers are Conversation and And Winter Came (the tune on which Breyer goes solo but also sings and plays recorder). I do have a complaint with these two tracks, and it’s that the vocals are submerged too deeply in the mix. There are lyrics and when you bury the singing this deep in the mix, what’s the point? Wise up, Ackerman and Nelsen—if you’re going to include vocal songs, let the listener hear what the lyrics are saying. Oster shines on American Gothic and Winter Light (he usually plays more of a background role on Imaginary Road releases) which I was glad to hear, since he is so damn talented. Ackerman’s In A Region Of Clouds has the composer himself sitting in on guitar and joining Breyer who perfectly complements him. There’s even a track without any piano at all, i.e. So It Was (penned by Breyer), a restrained, sparse, late night serenade played by guitarist David Cullen. I could go on praising Another Place and Time... but all you need to know is that, despite my nit about how the vocals are mixed, I still think this CD is damn near perfect. If I could have only this one album to play while staying for a weekend at a North Shore (Minnesota) cabin on Lake Superior in late October, it would be more than enough. Breyer’s playing is the perfect juxtaposition of subtle nuance and deep emotion—there is not one wasted note. Another Place and Time... is a rare gem, a gift from the artist to souls like me who hunger for the quieter, more introspective side of music which leads us into our own places and times, filled with memories and wishes. ____________________________________________________________________________ SHEILA MARIE, YAHOO CONTRIBUTOR NETWORK . Sept. 14, 2011 Heidi explores the New Age ambiances and subtleties of the piano — and other instruments and performers — to near perfection on her most recent release, Another Place and Time... Heidi Anne Breyer is a classically-trained instrumentalist who creates New Age compositions and original, entrancing melodies. Based in the US and born in the UK, Heidi takes an international approach to music composition with influences stemming from Chopin, Bach, and Rachmaninoff to modern performers, whether intentional or not, including Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett and George Winston. Heidi’s classical training is paramount for her success, though it is not always in the forefront. At times, her music crosses and parallels New Age, classical, neo- classical, instrumental, neo-jazz, and experimental lines without losing the warmth, charm, and inspirational moods of the compositions. Heidi explores the New Age ambiances and subtleties of the piano — and other instruments and performers — to near perfection on her most recent release, Another Place and Time. Grammy® Award-winning producer, musician, and Windham Hill Records founder, William Ackerman, lends his talents to this production, and also performs a poignant guitar piece, with Heidi on piano. Released by Winterhall Records in 2010, Another Place and Time hearkens back to a time of classical simplicity and sweetness seldom heard in contemporary New Age music. Notably, the Zone Music Reporter (ZMR) voted Heidi as the Best New Artist for 2010, while her album garnered Best Instrumental Album: Piano. A review by Bill Binkelman calls it, “a rare gem, a gift from the artist to souls...who hunger for the quieter, more introspective side of music which leads us into our own places and times, filled with memories and wishes.” Furthermore, Another Place and Time contains an award-winning ensemble that adds depth, texture, and tonality to the already breath-taking piano compositions. Heidi’s piano (and vocals) are also joined by David Cullen on guitar;; Eugene Friesen on cello;; Jeff Oster on flugelhorn;; Jill Haley on English horn;; Noah Wilding on vocals, and Charlie Bisharat on violin. The cover artwork of a piano and Heidi with her eyes down reflect a humble, classy, and professional character that clearly matches her music on all accords. Another Place and Time is largely contemporary in tone with noticeable filmic qualities that could easily be included in the latest dramatic film soundtrack or score. In fact, Corin Nelsen says, “Heidi’s music is contemplative and very cinematic...you can feel within it that crucial moment when the lens pulls back and the lead character realizes a huge emotional change and redirects the course of the rest of the film.” Interestingly, Heidi cites Alexander Volkov, a Russian Realist, as inspiration for five of the tracks. Volkov’s paintings of nostalgia, longing, and emptiness, draw comparisons to the musical ‘colors’ inherent in Heidi’s work from an annotative perspective. Corin adds, “Hints of Jazz and Blues add new colors to her already breathtaking soundscape. Heidi’s early formative years were linked through music, dance, and drama at the Arts Educational School in Hertfordshire, UK and later at Trinity College of Music in London. As an adult, Heidi’s music career largely involved teaching piano, performing recitals, accompanying chamber and choral groups, and playing the church organ;; she also teaches violin, voice, and music lessons. Importantly, the transformative effects of music can occur at any age, and several years ago, Heidi experienced the explosion of creativity that led to her composing and recording career. Prior to Another Place and Time, Heidi recorded a debut, holiday album titled Winter Light in 2009 that featured traditional and original compositions touching on the Christmas season. Heidi contemplates, “Our creations are an affirmation of life...whatever form they take, they are the legacy we leave, reflecting the most poignant moments of our short time here.” Heidi believes, “As children we perceive music very physically and allow it to carry us away to a different place...” Perhaps a ‘different place’ conjures up images of another place and time: a place where the sound of Heidi’s piano satisfies a deep yearning for reflective jubilation in everyone’s lives. Currently, Heidi is recording a new album with Grammy® Award-winning producer and recording engineer Corin Nelsen, and is also producing a DVD collection of her music set to Alexander Volkov’s paintings. Another Place and Time and Winter Light are available on the artist’s website at www.heidibreyer.com, on Amazon, iTunes, CDBaby, and via New Leaf Distributing (http://newleaf-dist.com/) for specialty retailers;; she also has a Music/Band page on Facebook under Heidi Anne Breyer.