rachel currea

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It looks like my Miami home and virtually the entire state of Florida is being impacted by Hurricane Irma.  I had planned to set up the pre-release sales of my next album to benefit victims of Hurricane Harvey in Houston, however we may need to start with charity at home!  Still waiting to see what happens. Meanwhile, we boarded up the house, covered the piano with lots of blankets, a mattress, and tarp, prayed, and will deal with things as they come.

Now that the hurricane prep is all done, I can turn my attention back to sharing my new music project with you!

Most of you know me as a solo piano composer, but my new album explores the genre of sacred choral music.  Two years ago I premiered my first choral work, "Hymn to the Holy Spirit" which was heard by Leonard Sweet, best selling Christian author, who after seeing me present it in a workshop, fell in love with it.  Listen here.

Shortly afterwards, he commissioned me to write a new Reformation Hymn and present it in Castle Church, Wittenberg, Germany for the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.   Seems like an easy thing to write a hymn, but I had some trouble writing the lyrics.  To relieve my creative frustrations a friend suggested that I write new melodies for some of Luther's hymns.  He emailed me lyrics to "Now Pray We All God Our Comforter" and in the process I discovered that setting lyrics was fun and easy for me.  I had such a good time with this diversion, that I set a total of three hymns.  I remember my husband asking me why I was spending my time on this since it "wouldn't make me any income".  I told him that I felt like I had to do it and that I was truly enjoying myself.   Above all, I felt that I had to obey that inner voice inside of me compelling me to compose regardless of the consequences.  Around that same time I was composing an Alleluia for 8 part choir.  I was looking at my new compositions one day and thought, "Why don't I turn this into an album to celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation?"  

Then the next questions were, what choir would sing it, how would I pay for a project off this magnitude which in the end incorporated about 50 musicians, and where we would record.  As I was mulling these issues over in my mind, I sent a little innocent question to my sound engineer about issues regarding micing choirs.  I felt that when I talked to people about the project that I should have some technical knowledge so that I would not seem like such a greenhorn...which I was...but no one else needed to know that!  I had plenty of experience with recording piano music, but not choir and orchestra. His radar went up, he called me, and asked what I was up to!  He was very excited about this project and offered his support immediately.  

We had several professional and university choirs interested, but the time frame for the recording sessions did not work for their schedules, so in the end, I put together my own choir from singers that I had worked with in the opera world, church, met in college, and from high schools.  As a professional accompanist I had a diverse exposure to the incredible talent that thrives in Miami.  Conductors, Kathryn Longo and Don Oglesby, joined me in preparing the choir.  What a joy to collaborate with them.  We rehearsed for six weeks prior to the recording sessions, and my sound engineer, Paul Griffith, traveled from Athens, Georgia to Miami to record at Florida International University In June.

Those involved with this album remarked repeatedly the sense of teamwork and camaraderie that existed every step of the way in the production.   If nothing else, I can keep in my heart the joy it was to work with such talented, dedicated, and loving musicians.  Donald Oglesby brought such senstivity, love, and genuine enthusiasm about the Reformation 500 celebrations.  Kate Longo was nothing short of a genius with creating a unique blend with each piece.  We constantly shifted voices around from part to part depending on the sound we sought for each track.  It's a complex and detailed process and could change even during the recording sessions.  I had intended to conduct the Reformation Hymn, "We Stand in Righteousness", but found that my ears simply could not take it.  I had been recording and editing non stop for 3 days and by the time we went to record that piece I found myself overwhelmed with sonic information.  What a relief to know that I could turn it over to Kate to save the day.  I do love podium time, especially in conducting my own music, but I knew that Kate's ears were fresh and would lead better in that moment.  It was teamwork at it's best.  I think I shall feel lonely when I record my next piano albums from now on!  I love creating alone, but I LOVED collaborating with these conductors and singers MUCH, MUCH more.  As a friend attending the recording sessions remarked, "I love watching you and your tired friends run on fumes...they really believe in you".  I felt a great responsibility and and overwhelming sense of humility and joy at this observation.

Find listening links here and the first music video can be enjoyed here.  
Please take a moment to purchase the album at a 40% discount during the pre-sale period here 

USE Coupon Code PRE40

If you want to purchase 10 or more albums, email me at rachel@rachelcurrea.com for an even better discount code.  

So here's to getting through Hurricane Irma and sharing my soon to be released album with you!
Rachel

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