A featured work on my upcoming release To Dream of Silence is a work by the Canadian composer Christos Hatzis: Extreme Unction. Set for solo bass clarinet and string orchestra, it is a powerful depiction of both the struggles against, and the final acceptance of the inevitability of death. The recurring theme that runs through this entire release is the power of the heart as an engine of transformation. In To Dream of Silence you hear the heart of the machinery of a vast basement, the pounding of a heart recovering from terror, a bursting heart upon witnessing indescribable beauty, the rich heart of our home and finally in Christos’ work we hear a heart beating out the final moments of life. Death, as this brilliant work by Christos shows us, is the ultimate transformation.
All tracks available on all download and streaming sites (Itunes, Spotify etc.. ) on September 29th
Christos Hatzis wrote this work using recordings of my improvisations that he then re-worked and orchestrated. Here is a letter I sent to Christos when I was preparing this work for the performance and recording of this piece last June:
“I have fallen in love with your piece in a truly complex way. It’s not all joy and light I have to tell you. Truth be told I am finding it hard to articulate what it is like to realize a piece that is so much me but also so much you. It is like we have had a strange musical baby together that has its own life that in turn describes death in such a chaotic, but nuanced expression. Hard, but beautiful. Hard to be me when my expression is chopped up, reset, orchestrated and returned with greater depth and power than any individual gesture could possibly express. My feelings around it are much deeper and more realized than they were in the Toronto performance. Maybe it’s the amount of time I have spent on it this time around, as now I certainly feel that I have wrestled this anguished beast into technical submission, while last time I think it was beyond my grasp…. but also I think it has to do with turning 60 – it changes you somehow. I hope you will hear all this in my performance, it certainly is my intention.”
Thirteen Strings Chamber Orchestra players:
First violins: Manuela Milani, Martine Dubé, Sara Mastrangelo, Geneviève Petit
Second violins: Solange Tremblay, Marjolaine Lambert, Maria Nenoiu,Brigitte Amyot
Violas: Catherine Ferreira, Sonya Probst
Cellos: Julian Armour, Thaddeus Morden
Bass: John Geggie
To Dream of Silence is the latest CD release by Jeff Reilly that chronicles a series of powerful dreams experienced between 2008 and 2012. It also includes a world premiere recording of Christos Hatzis’ Extreme Unction, for bass clarinet and string orchestra and a re-mix by the great Joshua Van Tassle.
Here’s a beautiful 2 minute video we made about this project:
I’ve always been a dreamer. I’ve always had powerful dreams. Many of these dreams have changed my life.
To Dream of Silence is a story of personal transformation as told through dreams. It is a meditation on the human psyche, and the challenges our souls face in times of change. It is dark, richly textured and full of heart. It chronicles a period between 2008 and 2012 where I had some truly significant dreams. Some were harrowing and intense, others astoundingly beautiful, all were deeply transformative.
Seeing that for the past 30 years I have been a musician, producer, performer and composer in the world of contemporary classical music and jazz, it seemed time to gather up all that experience and put it into bringing these dreams to life through music and narration.
I realized through making this album that the real engine of transformation is the heart. The heart is an image that keeps coming back throughout the entire project, the heart of the machinery of a vast basement, the pounding heart of recovery from terror, a bursting heart upon witnessing indescribable beauty, a heart in the final moments of life, and the rich heart of our home.
To Dream of Silence occupies a unique sound world. Jeff Reilly’s bass clarinet combines with the pipe organ of long-time collaborator Peter-Anthony Togni, the extended percussion of Jerry Granelli, two full string orchestras, and sound sculptures created in the tiny village of East Dover, Nova Scotia by the blacksmith John Little. Rinde Eckert adds a great deal with his sparse and powerful narrations.
One of the most powerful moments on this disc is the piece Extreme Unction by Christos Hatzis performed on this album by the Thirteen Strings Chamber Orchestra conducted by Kevin Mallon. It is a powerful depiction of both the struggles against, and the final acceptance of the inevitability of death. It seems a very fitting way to complete a series of pieces about psychological and spiritual transitions. Death, as this brilliant work by Christos shows us, is the ultimate transition.
To Dream of Silence: Music by Jeff Reilly and Christos Hatzis
To Dream of Silence 2:36
Eighty Steps 5:44
Your Dark Beauty 6:05
Endless Chambers 7:20
Food for a Soul 4:00
Extreme Unction 11:45
Eighty Steps re-mix 5:58 Re-mix by Joshua Van Tassle
All works by Jeff Reilly except track 7 by Christos Hatzis
Jeff Reilly – bass clarinet
Rinde Eckert – narration
Peter-Anthony Togni – pipe organ
Jerry Granelli – percussion
The Sanctuary String Orchestra conducted by Jeff Reilly
Thirteen Strings Chamber Orchestra conducted by Kevin Mallon
Mattieu Keijser – percussion
Joshua Van Tassel – percussion and re-mix
The Blue Engine String Quartet
Christoph Both – cello
Featuring the sound sculptures of John Little
Produced by Jeff Reilly and Rod Sneddon
Engineered and mixed by Rod Sneddon
Digital Editor: Jeff Reilly
Recorded in Nova Scotia, Canada between 2000 and 2016 at First Baptist Church in Amherst, St Mary’s Basilica in Halifax, Eglise St Bernard in Church Point, Rod Sneddon’s living room in Halifax, John Little’s Blacksmith Foundry in East Dover, and the Dunn Theatre in Halifax.
Mastered by Simon Heyworth, Super Audio Mastering, Chagford, Devon, UK
CD Design: Jody Burry, Fogo Creative
Special thanks to the Canada Council for the Arts and FACTOR for funding this recording. Thanks also to Arts Nova Scotia for funding the creation of To Dream of Silence and the Ontario Arts Council for funding the creation of Extreme Unction.