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Ann Sweeten | Where Butterflies Dance

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New Age: Contemporary Instrumental Classical: Contemporary Moods: Featuring Piano
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Where Butterflies Dance

by Ann Sweeten

Prodigious technique encased in effortless grace - Steinway Artist Ann Sweeten's signature sound never disappoints as these new melodies bring new heights to her illustrious career. Metaphysically uplifting, stimulating and emotionally powerful!
Genre: New Age: Contemporary Instrumental
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
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1. A Trace of You
5:12 $0.99
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2. Broken Wing at North Light
4:38 $0.99
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3. Elysian Fields
5:03 $0.99
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4. Love Among the Ruins
6:35 $0.99
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5. Veil of Tears
4:48 $0.99
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6. Morning Mist at Chimayo
4:01 $0.99
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7. Sateo
4:27 $0.99
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8. The Hanging Road
5:15 $0.99
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9. Where Butterflies Dance
5:26 $0.99
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10. Migration
4:44 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
MEDIA QUOTES

"Where Butterflies Dance is a thoroughly outstanding album and the compositions lingered in my mind long after the listening experience had concluded. Deeply passionate about the environment and its many afflictions, Ann so eloquently conveys a message of environmental awareness through her music, expressing her passion with originality, sentimentality and immaculate beauty". Candice Michelle - Journeyscapes

“In addition to Ann’s impeccable talents as a pianist, composer, and arranger, the unseen, but deeply felt, spiritual dimension that she brings to her music takes her elegant compositions to another level altogether. This latest release by Ann Sweeten, like the butterfly itself, is a thing of delicate beauty in motion, symbolizing grace, transformation, and renewal. After 12 albums, Ann’s music continues to evolve into greater and greater levels of refinement and creative expression. Where Butterflies Dance is an inspired work of art from one of the genre’s premier pianists.”
Michael Diamond – Music and Media Focus

“Sweeten’s music is always warm and lyrical reflecting her love of nature, staunch environmentalism and animal activism. Ann Sweeten’s efforts to change the world with her music are both commendable and compelling. …elegant and graceful…achingly beautiful. Kathy Parsons “New and Exceptional” MainlyPiano.com

"Where Butterflies Dance is ambitious and has been co-produced by the master of new age music, Will Ackerman, and as you can see, has a plethora of other musicians who have added their magic to this musical moment of genius.

Where Butterflies Dance is Sweeten’s best work so far; she has pushed the boundaries, she has seized the moment and rightfully so, has created an album that is both beautiful and deeply meaningful. Ann Sweeten has gone for it, and her courage and commitment and her passion will win you over with ease. This is one album you don’t have to think about getting, just do it, it is outstanding.” Steve Sheppard - One World Music

BIOGRAPHY
After nearly 20 years of enamoring audiences on the Concert stage and on Radio/Internet Airwaves, Ann Sweeten’s signature style is recognized world-wide and now her new album, Where Butterflies Dance is without question her most ambitious and successful to date. Will Ackerman, co-producer, had this to say: “There is no greater compliment I can give any musician than to say they have their own artistic voice. They are uniquely themselves and bring something utterly their own to the world. Ann Sweeten is one of those rare musicians. The grace one associates with Ann’s performance has been matched by what I believe are the best melodies of her career. At a time when many artists might choose to coast on their notoriety, Ann has raised the bar considerably and we, the listeners, are the beneficiaries of her ambition and skill. Really brilliant.”

One of the most decorated pianists of the past decade with 7 previous albums all ranking in the Top 5 NAR and ZMR Radio Reports, Sweeten is also one of the most played modern instrumentalists in North America. A truly well-rounded individual and artist, Ms. Sweeten is a staunch environmentalist, animal activist and vegetarian. In addition to her Concert and Recording career, she is also a professional actress/singer/dancer with Actor’s Equity Association. Ann Sweeten is herself a Breast Cancer survivor twice over and is involved with the Arts in Healthcare Initiative.
Sweeten’s journey in the performing arts began at the age of 6 in both Music and Ballet in Westfield, NJ. She received a Hammond Organ for Christmas that year after showing interest in keyboards and was soon to master it, though the first year she had to stand to reach the pedals. For her ninth Christmas, she received a Baldwin Piano and soon began intensive study with Russian-born Concert Pianist David Sokoloff. Under his tutelage, she learned to play the music of the great masters. She sites Sokoloff as her greatest mentor, whose influence in developing her technique and in encouraging her musicality, was paramount. All during these years, Sweeten was also dancing the classic ballets (Swan Lake, Les Sylphides, Sleeping Beauty) with a Regional Ballet Company in NJ. A Dean’s list scholar throughout academia, Sweeten earned a B.A. from Smith College in foreign languages, graduating Cum Laude, and continued study in Paris and later at the Boston Conservatory.

Sweeten did a brief two year stint as Female Front and lyricist to the Pop/Rock Band : FALLOUT. Then she began appearing on Cruise Ships, in Cabaret Clubs and Resorts playing and singing a wide range of material including Jazz, Pop, Folk, New Age and Broadway music. Sweeten began composing around 1989 in the midst of her Musical Theatre Career, starring in such roles as Aldonza (Man of La Mancha) Sister Amnesia (Nunsense) Miss Mona (Best Little Whorehouse in Texas) and Velma Kelly (Chicago). When she started introducing her own original material to her set lists, the response was overwhelming. In 1997, Sweeten released her debut album, “Prism”. By Sweeten’s third album, “Reflections” (2000), her music was selling on listening stations at major record chains (Borders Books & Music, Sam Goody’s) weekly by the hundreds. Fans began to write in depth of the effect of Sweeten’s music on their lives, speaking of the music as hope, as giving the power of healing or a way of finding peace. She has stated “the fact that my music touches people so strongly is the greatest reward I receive from my music and I have been moved to tears by the personal stories people have shared with me.” Having written over 100 musical scores to date, Sweeten is also author to all of her albums’ liner notes and is a poet in her own right. In 2008, Steinway and Sons welcomed Sweeten into its prestigious international roster of Steinway Artists, touting her, a true Renaissance woman.

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Reviews


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Michael Diamond (www.michaeldiamondmusic.com)

Review excerpt from Music and Media Focus
I’m always happy to receive a new recording from internationally renowned, chart-topping, award-winning pianist/composer Ann Sweeten. For her latest project, Ann has chosen the theme of butterflies, which has great meaning for her on a number of different levels. As she writes in the album’s liner notes: “Throughout the world, in all cultures spanning history, from ancient times until the present, the metamorphosis of butterflies has been a source of wonder.” The album has both a spiritual message, as well as an environmental one addressing the effect of man’s actions in the decline of these beautiful creatures. As in the past, Ann has chosen to record this album at the iconic Imaginary Road Studios in Vermont, which is owned by GRAMMY winning producer and Windham Hill Records founder Will Ackerman.

The album takes flight with a lovely piece entitled “A Trace Of You,” in which Ann’s opening piano notes are delicate like a butterfly’s wings as they lift the song gracefully aloft. The first to join her on this journey is the English horn of Akane Setiawan. As the piece evolves, the sweet, soaring sound of world-renowned violinist Charlie Bisharat joins the mix. Charlie has played with everyone from Kitaro and Yanni, to Michael Jackson, Elton John, and The Rolling Stones. Together, this trio creates a heartfelt sound that oozes with sentiment and grace on Ann’s elegant composition. On a track called “Elysian Fields,” I particularly liked the way Ann’s left hand arpeggios created a sense of continuity leaving her right hand free to explore different spaces. A song with a deeply personal meaning for Ann is “Morning Mist At Chimayo,” which also features the flute of Trisha Craig and the acoustic guitar of Will Ackerman himself. As well as the accompanied pieces, the album also features a stunning solo piano track entitled “Veil Of Tears.” I cannot help but be impressed with the stylistic and emotional range of Ann’s writing and playing from song to song.

In addition to Ann’s impeccable talents as a pianist, composer, and arranger, the unseen, but deeply felt spiritual dimension that she brings to her music takes her elegant compositions to another level altogether. This latest release by Ann Sweeten, like the butterfly itself, is a thing of delicate beauty in motion, symbolizing grace, transformation, and renewal. After 12 albums, Ann’s music continues to evolve into greater and greater levels of refinement and creative expression. “Where Butterflies Dance” is an inspired work of art from one of the genre’s premier pianists.

To read a full-length feature article about this album, as well as others, please visit: www.MichaelDiamondMusic.com
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Kathy Parsons

From MainlyPiano
Ann Sweeten’s twelfth album, "Where Butterflies Dance," was co-produced by Will Ackerman at his Imaginary Road Studios in Vermont. Sweeten’s music is always warm and lyrical, reflecting her love of nature, staunch environmentalism, and animal activism. It also stems from a life in the arts as a professional actress, singer, and dancer as well as a pianist and composer. The album includes performances by several other instrumentalists in addition to Sweeten’s on a Steinway B grand piano and synthesizers.

In the colorful 8-page booklet that is included with the CD, Sweeten explains that: “Throughout the world, in all cultures spanning history, from ancient times until the present, the metamorphosis of butterflies has been a source of wonder. Many legends or myths about butterflies have arisen in very different cultures that are representative of renewal, transformation, death and rebirth, awakening, courage, love, joy and hope.” She goes on to explain several of the ways in which butterflies are symbolized and then addresses the more specific crisis where Monarch butterflies are on the brink of extinction due to the loss of milkweed plants on their migration route. I love and admire the way that Sweeten uses her music to effectively raise awareness of issues dear to her heart, making them dear to many more hearts - hopefully in time to make a difference.

"Where Butterflies Dance" begins with the poignant “A Trace of You,” a deeply emotional ballad that features Akane Setiawan on English horn and Charlie Bisharat on violin, expressing great loss. “Broken Wing at North Light” is equally heartfelt, thanks in part to Eugene Friesen’s soulful cello behind Sweeten’s delicate, flowing piano touch. “Elysian Fields” is a piano and ambient guitar (Jeff Pearce) duet that gracefully illustrates how heavenly it would be where butterflies dance. “Love Among the Ruins” refers to the growing number of species nearing extinction. Friesen’s cello and Setiawan’s English horn represent the voices of those species as they struggle to be heard - achingly beautiful. “Veil of Tears,” the only piano solo, is very elegant and graceful. “Sateo” expands the environmental message by telling the story of a great bull elephant who was killed with a poacher’s poisoned arrow in Kenya in 2014 for the ivory in his tusks. The elephant was likely about fifty years old and had been adapting his behavior to avoid humans. The heartbreaking story is expressed as a duet for piano and Andrew Eng’s violin, which represents the beauty and grace of Sateo’s spirit. The title track is “both a call to action and a prayer for hope that we might find a place where butterflies indeed dance...” (quoted from the liner notes). Trisha Craig’s flute and Eng’s violin bring a gentle grace to this evocative piece.

Ann Sweeten’s efforts to change the world with her music are both commendable and compelling. May her music reach the ears and hearts of many people who will join in her mission. Recommended!
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Steve Sheppard, One World Music Radio

A totally outstanding album
Ann Sweeten is one of those rare performers who play’s with her heart on her sleeve; she produces emotive soundscapes that really hit home hard and on this her latest album, that bar has yet again been raised further.
Where Butterflies Dance is ambitious and has been co-produced by the master of new age music, Will Ackerman and as you can see has a plethora of other musicians who have added their magic to this musical moment of genius.
You only have to listen to the opening track to understand just how good this album is. A Trace of You is deeply moving, the strings and piano dance in an emotional overture of reflection to create a totally stunning track to open the album with; Akane Setiawan’s English horn adds a whole new layer of depth to the composition.
As we gently move into Broken Wing at North Light, which features the amazing Eugene Friesen on Cello, we find a song that almost seems to float between two dimensions. Sweetens performance here is sublime, powerful at times and creatively ambient within other segments, while Friesen’s Cello hovers like a summer mist.
A track I understand very well now I live in Cyprus, it’s called Elysian Fields, in ancient Greek this is the resting place for the good and virtuous. Sweeten has manifested something really dreamy here, her performance is almost ethereal, as the arrangement drifts along a coastline of sun seeking Butterflies, these beautiful creatures are abundant here all year long and this track would suit that back drop of new born souls, as the reincarnation of life continues in its circle.
I am totally and blissfully enjoying the experience of listening to this album and in my opinion, I rate this as the best work Ann has ever produced. Listen to Love Among the Ruins and that may well confirm further that Ann Sweetens bar has been raised. Here is a track that flows with a subtle intensity and combines one of the most amazing Cello segments I have heard for many years and at well over 6 minutes is the longest piece off the album.
Veil of Tears is up next and is a track that Sweeten shows us her skills as a pianist of great talent and creates an almost classical refrain for us to totally revel in, here you will find power passion and sensitivity all wrapped up in one very neat composition.
The peace filled Morning Mist at Chimayo is now upon us, for fans of the flute, you will hear the extremely delicate tones of flautist Trisha Craig and a certain Will Ackerman of acoustic guitar, all bring together one delightfully charming piece of music you could literally leave on repeat for hours.
The next piece I decided to refer to the album notes and was saddened and deeply disgusted to read the story behind the track Sateo. I have no explanation on why the human race has this perverse desire to kill animals for pleasure; I guess greed is the answer. Sateo is an emotional arrangement about an Elephant, who, let’s be frank, was murdered in Kenya by poachers. As you can imagine this is one very passionate composition superbly performed by Sweeten, but where the piece could have drifted off into resentment, Ann Sweeten composes something incredibly awe inspiring and that’s exactly what the world needs right now, a brave, but very empowering track indeed.
The narrative on this release is strong, descriptive and visual, like this track for example, called The Hanging Road (Cheyenne for the Milky Way), this is one wonderful moment of musical bliss that just seems to float around us in a meadow of ambient magic, and once more contains the Horn of Setiawan and Friesen’s ever beautiful Cello.
The penultimate piece is also the title track, Where Butterflies Dance and contains the delicate flute of Craig and Andrew Eng on Violin. Ann Sweeten has yet again manifested us something quite lovely, the combination of flute and piano are sumptuous and create such wonderful imagery, one can imagine laying in a field of butterflies, watching respectfully, their tender dance in the air, on gossamer wings of unconditional love.
So we drift into the open arms of the last arrangement off the album called Migration, Eng’s Violin cries in the distance as Sweeten masterfully creates a piece that transcends beauty itself, the tempo of this track was so very calming and an incredibly clever way to leave the album.
Where Butterflies Dance is Sweetens best work so far, she has pushed the boundaries, she has seized the moment and rightfully so has created an album that is both beautiful and deeply meaningful. Ann Sweeten has gone for it, and her courage and commitment and her passion will win you over with ease. This is one album you don’t have to think about getting, just do it, it is outstanding.
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Candice Michelle

Review from Journeyscapes Radio
Ann Sweeten is a pianist, composer, Steinway artist and poet, who released her first album, "Prism", in 1997. Inspired by themes of nature and, specifically, the butterfly, “Where Butterflies Dance” dually captures the essence of human emotion and life’s experiences, conveyed by the butterfly’s universal symbolism of beauty, love, hope, death, rebirth and transformation. Ann is joined on this album by other talented guest musicians who lend instruments to varying compositions, including Akane Setiawan on English horn, Eugene Friesen on cello, Trisha Craig on flute, Jeff Pearce on electric guitar, Will Ackerman on acoustic guitar, and both Charlie Bisharat and Andrew Eng on violin.

“A Trace of You” opens the album, accompanied by Akane Setiawan’s horn and Charlie Bisharat’s violin, which add a sense of mournfulness to this emotive piece. Ann’s piano playing is at once dynamic yet restrained, with a uniquely artful style that often reminds me of a constant gentle stream, cascading over stones and all its subtle nuances. “Elysian Fields” is perhaps the album’s most breathtaking piece, featuring Ann on both piano and synthesizer, and Jeff Pearce on ambient guitar. Named for the Greek mythical paradise, one can easily imagine arriving in an endless field of flowers while looking upon a distant sunset. A lead melody flutters and floats across the misty bed of guitar and beautiful timbres, which could simply go on forever. “Love Among the Ruins” is another pictorial tune, evoking memories of blissful romances and bittersweet goodbyes, whether it be between human or animal companions. A forlorn quality permeates this piece, which is joined once again by Akane’s horn as well as Eugene Friesen’s cello. Sunrise peers through on “Morning Mist At Chimayo”, showcasing Trisha Craig’s flute and Will Ackerman’s acoustic guitar, further imbuing the composition with grace and elegance. Another piece worth noting is “Sateo”, which is named for an Elephant who once lived in Kenya. Accompanied by Andrew Eng’s violin, Ann offers a most heartfelt musical dedication to this creature, whose life was tragically ended at the age of fifty by poachers. The album’s title track, “Where Butterflies Dance”, is another lovely tune that is carried by a waltzing melody. Complemented by flute and violin, a vision of butterflies dancing in a paradisal garden is conveyed, perhaps alluding to a Greek myth that each time a butterfly emerges from its cocoon, a human soul is born.

“Where Butterflies Dance” is a thoroughly outstanding album and the compositions lingered in my mind long after the listening experience had concluded. It is also worth noting that the magnificent Monarch butterfly is under threat of extinction due to the gradual disappearance of Milkweed plants along its migration route. Deeply passionate about the environment and its many afflictions, Ann so eloquently conveys a message of environmental awareness through her music, expressing her passion with originality, sentimentality and immaculate beauty.
Read more...

Donovan Johnson

Reviewed by Enlightened Piano Radio
“Where Butterflies Dance” is the latest album by piano artist Ann Sweeten, recorded at Imaginary Road Studios and co-produced by long time music legend Will Ackerman. As the title would suggest, this is a very relaxed recording, and is at times lively in only a very gentle and somewhat fragile way. Overall, the recording is very serene, but don't mistake that to mean it's slow or uninteresting. The tempos are often medium to brisk in nature, and Ann uses her left hand to create an ever present pattern of “fluttering” arpeggios throughout the album. Simultaneously she uses a very gentle touch at the piano, rarely moving beyond a loud volume for anything more than a few bars. Add to that the calming sounds of the flute, acoustic guitar and violin, and you have a recording that is something that can be harnessed as music to relax to, or used for more engaged listening.

The first of my preferred tracks on the album is “Elysian Fields.” This one sticks out as being unique in that the nature of the piece is very ethereal, and it's really the only song on the album to capture this quality. The piano playing is very steady and consistent, and behind it we have some very “wet” vocal synth pads, which are a combination of guitar sounds by musician Jeff Pearce, and synth chords performed by Ann herself. Together this creates a very ambient feel inside of a piece that really isn't ambient at all, as the piano playing is much too structured for that. This combination is really lovely, as it alternates and improvises between two major chords (E, back to D, and then back to E again). I don't know how else to describe this but as “structured simplicity” at it's finest, and the mixture of all of the above makes it my absolute favorite piece on the recording, hands down.

Next we move on to a very different sounding track, “Veil Of Tears.” This piece has many different musical elements interspersed throughout, and the use of these elements creates something very interesting to listen to. We have several different types of seventh chords that are used, often the major seventh, but these chords are combined with some dark and moody chords as well (the piece is actually written in A minor). Musically, that's a brave move, and is something that's not heard very often at all. What it creates is a very thoughtful, reflective piece that's almost reminiscent of something written by the great impressionists, and simultaneously brought completely up to date in it's approach. One can see butterflies of every color painting a vibrant picture in this piece.

Finally, let's have a look at “Where Butterflies Dance,” the title track on the album. What we have here is a song that stands out in the way it's approached musically, a gentle waltz with a left hand stride pattern. Once again, Ann uses her own musical influence to draw upon and creates something out of the ordinary. Much of the time, waltzes place an upward emphasis on the final count in each bar (3), leading back to count one. Ann does not do this, so what we hear is a pattern of “strong-weak-weaker,” and back to “strong” again. This is a subtle but very powerful distinction, as it changes the entire feel of the song in regard to a waltz. The right hand plays a gently improvised melody over top of the chords, with the sweet sounds of the flute and violin playing off of each other throughout the piece. The result is a lovely combination that doesn't place you as the listener on the dance floor, but sets you aside as a spectator, one who is able to take in every element of a beautifully elegant waltz as an observer.

Ann Sweeten has done a wonderful job of putting together a recording that offers a lot of reflection, introspection, and musical picture painting. It's very easy to listen to and uncomplicated, making it a perfect pairing for most occasions, whether they're public or personal. The title is very appropriately named, as it fits the feel of the recording very well and is all that one would expect from an album titled “Where Butterflies Dance.”
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