Artists’ Statement: The music in Peace, Hope and Wonder…Christmas consists of carols we have carefully arranged, inviting all to seek harmony with the Divine, find healing, and bring peace to the world. As you listen, you are invited to simply unwind and be open to the sounds of carols ancient and new, bringing hope and wonder. Designed to invite you into a contemplative space, this music can also inspire expressive movement and dance.
Background: “Holidays are seldom the easy and perfect vision we want them to be. Many of us find aging or retirement difficult, are facing serious illness, family disruptions and grief during this time of year. We wish to provide some hope, peace, and even some wonder into the changing landscapes of our lives,” say Terry and Norton.
The collection the duo has recorded includes a haunting, original lullaby by Terry and diverse carols from many lands. Their reflections truly are a collaborative effort. While Terry finds the various luscious chords for the harp, and Norton the twists and turns of the piano, the rest of the arrangements are created together. “We seldom remember who wrote what!” they say. “We found that as we experimented with the juxtaposition of carols together, by tweaking the melodies some, we could weave new creations.”
Mona Terry and Jean Norton celebrated the release of their second album, Peace, Hope and Wonder…Christmas, at a Musical Winter Wonderland event, in East Moline, Illinonis, and at The Cottage: Wholistic Health Center in The Village of East Davenport, Iowa in early December.
The Mojeda Productions disc is a collection of original instrumental reflections on carols featuring Terry’s work on harp and piano, as well as Norton’s performances on the alto recorder and piano. Recorded at Norton & VanDerKamp Music & Sound in Bettendorf, Dave VanDerKamp is the recording and mastering engineer, and also co-producer.
Terry and Norton’s professional musical careers have covered European and American venues, musical theater, private instruction, sacred music, public and private stage performance, charity benefits, choral and instrumental recordings, and HeartSong healing retreats. They have performed in the presence of Maya Angelou, the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Holly Near, and Clark Terry, among others.
Their music is quite reflective, because of the spiritual work they do. The duo chose to debut their Christmas album at a retirement community, because of Mona’s work in hospice and Jean’s chaplaincy affiliations, and to a newly established Wholistic Health Center, The Cottage, in East Davenport during the Christams Walk, because of their focus on healing and wholeness. Both Terry and Norton are affiliated with Genesis Health System, a hospital based in Davenport, Iowa.
Terry incorporates the sensitivity she has as a therapeutic harpist into the flavor of the harp solos and arrangements. Playing at the bedside with families and patients who are experiencing the end of life, she breathes a meditative and focussed presence into her harp strings. Norton plays the alto recorder, a traditional German wooden flute. Often performed in the baroque style with no vibrato, Norton is finding her own voice with this recording by playing the flute with changing tembres and styles. Both Terry in her work with hospice, and Norton as chaplain have, as their CD insert states about Silent Night, “had the privilege of sharing…with families and their loved ones who are seriously ill as they prepared for ‘heavenly peace’.”
“When I first heard the sound of the alto flute and harp together it was magical,” Terry enthuses. “What a special and healing sound!” She continues, “I was inspired to create melodies so that these two instruments could carry the listener to another dimension of calm and inner peace.”
Norton says, “Music is universal and healing. It is absolutely phenomenal how deeply the spirit can be calmed when soothing sounds are at hand. To have an opportunity to offer that to others is truly humbling and exciting.” She also cites their complementary talents and shared values as key to their collaboration. “Mona writes wonderful and carefully crafted arrangements,” says Norton. “I bring music that is spontaneous and evolving. We laughed and cajoled each other through these carols until the sum was definitely greater than the parts, and truly greater than we individually could imagine.”
Terry agrees. “I am proud of the ability that we have of gently pushing each other to new levels of growth and musical development,” she says. “We never could have done it without the amazing patience and skill of our sound engineer and co-producer Dave VanDerKamp, who really worked magic with what we recorded.”