A Handfull of Quietness

Cover photography by Mark Paul Petrick; design by Al Constantineau.

From Ecclesiastes 4.6:

“Better is an handful with quietness,
than both the hands full with travail and vexation of spirit.”

King James Bible

“Better is a handful of quietness,
than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind.”

Revised Standard Bible

“Better one hand full, along with peace of mind,
than two full, along with toil: that is a chasing of the wind.”

Revised English Bible

The story of the origins of this CD is here.

A Handfull of Quietness may be purchased here.

All the Pretty Little Horses

African–American lullaby.

I once had a friend who maintained that pianists should learn a new Chopin nocturne every spring. He was responding to the almost decadent quality of spring nights, when the old is finally rotting away to nurture the new.

This arrangement is my haunting & lyrical springtime nocturne. 

East at Sunset

In Iowa, watching the sunset turn prairie fields to the east into pure gold—an experience not to be missed!

40 Days of Desert

Wherein something so small as to be almost nothing turns within itself again and again to become massive and powerful.

[Will you believe me if I confess that this piece was inspired by the raucous rock music that bled up to my upstairs apartment, late late late one Saturday night, back in the days when my neighbors led a much more interesting life than I did? (I was injured and confined to the apartment, so I had a good excuse, I guess.)

No, I didn’t really think you’d believe that!]

What the Stars Saw on the Prairie

On the western prairie, nestled against a hill, there is an unexpected forest: shade and water abound. Travelers on the Oregon Trail rested here before returning to the treacherous journey. One summer that forest was all I dreamed of.

[That would be the summer I was injured and confined to the apartment. What I’d have given then to be able to go west! Since then, I have gone west!]

[Also, this is my three-handed piece.]

Something Water, Something Light

There was a piece by Chopin I wanted to play, and it had a technical challenge I could not quite handle. 

So I created a mini–etude for myself, and was delighted as it grew into Something Water, Something Light

Oddly, I never could find that Chopin piece again. 

That Single Star (on A Handfull of Quietness)

“Ages of endless dark, pierced by that single star, echo with visions lost long ago... All the darkness waits for you, dazzling and holy. Pierce my heart, angel star; sing me the vision lost long ago. Starlight—grow!”

That Single Star was also recorded on The Rebirth of Light, as it is about that single star.

Shule Agra

Irish folk song. 

“His hair was dark, his eye was blue, his arm was stout, his word was true. I wish in my heart I was with you! Go thee, thu, mavourneen slaun.”

This Irish song was a particular favorite of my mother’s, possibly because it is rather descriptive of my father!

Hymn for Peace

No further comment necessary.

Forest Green

English folk song.

I have set this melody in several arrangements; this is actually the most rambunctious of the lot! This is really my all-time favorite melody. I anticipate setting it a dozen or more different ways.

For example, this is the melody the English use for the Christmas carol O Little Town of Bethlehem, and I have arranged it more lyrically for that song. Perhaps someday it will make it onto a CD.

And, of course, I used this melody for the final section of my arrangement of All Through the Night on Under the Greenwood Tree. That is a far more lyrical arrangement as well.

Who knows, perhaps someday I’ll create an entire album of arrangements of Forest Green!

Wayfaring Stranger

African–American spiritual. 

Plaintive, yearning, and consoling simultaneously, a song to keep us moving forward through the darkness. 

Veni Creator Spiritus

Gregorian chant. 

I love this melody, which is the office hymn for Whitsunday and was the great hit of the Middle Ages, set by nearly every composer for nearly every vocal ensemble imaginable. 

Here it jumps to the piano! A meditative opening builds to soaring arpeggios & parallel sixths. 

First Only Whisper

What is the phrase that must first only be whispered?

Bells, the Veil, and Victory

When I first created this piece I was afraid it would kill people! 

Which is my way of saying: Victory overcomes, and that includes volume!

Simple Love

The Riddle Song — English folk song, and 

A Gift to Be Simple — Shaker hymn.

A Handfull of Quietness

I had not originally intended to have a title track for the album, but I am so glad to have been given this piece: to hear, to play, to share. 

Not too long before I was going to record the CD, my friend Phyllis commented that it needed a title track. I felt the music was all complete as it was; “a handfull of quietness” was the title of the CD, it didn’t need to be the title of the song.

As is so often the case, Phyllis was right. About 10 days or so before my recording sessions, this music came to me in one complete thought. I knew immediately that it was the anticipated title track.

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