About a couple of years ago I met a yoga instructor who introduced me to the practice of yoga. I was already 40 then so I thought I was too old to start a difficult thing such as yoga but I was wrong. Yoga helped me a lot both physically and mentally.
And then, in summer of 2011, I had invitation to help my friend, Fr. Totet Banaynal, a Jesuit missionary in Cambodia, improve their music. The church is located in a beautiful city called Battambang, southwest of Cambodia. I answered the invitation and decided to spend Christmas there. My friend also asked me if I can record some Mass songs for recollections and retreat use. They need something more familiar that will lead the people into prayer so we selected some Mass songs from their songbook. I accepted the project. But when I heard the music, I fell in love with the melodies. The harmony they had was simple but the harmony that was playing in my mind was so beautiful that I decided to make it into a long piece of improvised music. My formal studies in orchestration and my Macbook Pro challenged me to put other instruments aside from the piano.
It was not an easy project. I encountered many problems. The first one was, I left the list of songs in the church. There were a lot of blank papers on the piano but why on earth did someone chose to tear the part off where the list of the songs were written? Also, when the portable keyboard was brought to my room it didn't work because of lose connection somewhere in the socket. It delayed me for a couple of days. I wasn't also sure if I can make something I like with the 3-octave keyboard that I had.
But as I started to work on them the inspiration just flowed in like a never ending rain. My friends wondered why I spent more hours alone in my room.
Some of the songs, like Let Us Go to the Altar Joyfully was already arranged in my mind before they were transfered and digitized in Garageband. The inspiration came while I was at the beach in southern Cambodia that's why it started with a guitar solo because I saw a lot of people of different nationalities, Latin, Russians, Chinese, Indians, etc. Some of the arrangements were also inspired by famous classical composers like Ravel, Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky.
Despite my experience and degree in music, this CD is my first. With the encouragement of my friends I ventured into releasing a CD. I think there will be others coming. I'm glad I went to Cambodia.