Ann Sweeten | Before Today, Beyond Tomorrow

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New Age: Neo-Classical Classical: Romantic Era Moods: Type: Soundtrack
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Before Today, Beyond Tomorrow

by Ann Sweeten

A tour de force of emotion, technical prowess and prodigious composition - “the further evolution from a pianist who has always delivered musical brilliance.” Will Ackerman, founder Windham Hill Records
Genre: New Age: Neo-Classical
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  Song Share Time Download
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1. Across the Midnight Sky
3:41 $0.99
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2. Before Today, Beyond Tomorrow
5:21 $0.99
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3. Beyond the Clouds
4:51 $0.99
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4. The Empty Swing
4:26 $0.99
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5. Saying Goodbye
5:24 $0.99
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6. Philadelphia 22
6:15 $0.99
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7. Vanish
5:18 $0.99
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8. Lullaby for Blackie Boo
4:58 $0.99
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9. Through Winter Panes
5:58 $0.99
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10. Like Smoke Through a Keyhole
4:29 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
The notes that follow are from something I wrote on May third of 2017, just a few weeks after my diagnosis of Leukemia. I was sitting quietly in the late afternoon sun, a cool Spring Breeze ruffling the budding trees, tears dripping down my face (wishing for oblivion). The words written at that time, will now introduce my newest album Before Today, Beyond Tomorrow, referring to the time before my diagnosis, and then, looking ahead and beyond the immediate with hope for the future.

“For those of you who have followed my career and read my CDs’ liner notes, you will already know that I have had Breast Cancer twice before and a plethora of related surgeries for Reconstruction. To receive a third cancer diagnosis is almost beyond what I can bear or even comprehend the likelihood.

This album began with a few compositions: Vanish, which refers to the vanishing ice in the Arctic and the accompanying vanishing species due to climate change, and Through Winter Panes, brought to life in my usual way; then I lost my beloved Blackie Boo and another was created. The pieces that followed were largely extensions or reactions to the emotional roller coaster of the weeks of blood tests, the simply not knowing for weeks on end, hearing the word “oncology” again and then hearing the word “Leukemia” – finally wondering how many years I had left. Through research, better comprehension and a second opinion, I found I do have a good prognosis as long as I tolerate the drugs that are used to treat it. There is no cure for this and no Doctor knows why it happens to some and not to others. Diet or Family history do not play a role, just some damn bit of rotten luck, though I have my suspicions.

Beyond the Clouds, Like Smoke through a Keyhole, The Empty Swing, and Philadelphia 22 (the chromosome responsible for my Leukemia) are markers on my journey of fear, hopelessness, anger, acceptance and then the resolution to fight for survival. Another piece was written for my dear little Shiloh who passed the day after Christmas 2017, which brought me to another level of despair. The two that followed, the title track and Across the Midnight Sky are more a testament to hope and resiliency.

To those who read this, please do not feel sorry for me, but rather cheer me on, for if the “why” in ‘why have I gotten cancer 3 times?’ cannot be answered, then the fact that I still survive, may be answer enough. I submit that despite odds against me in a world we no longer understand, there are forces at work to keep me here, to keep giving my music to the world.

I have never needed a wake-up call in life thru diagnosis or event, as I have always felt so very present and awake, but this third diagnosis has dropped me to my knees and in a way I can’t explain, the world is different, my life is different, my reactions are different, my patience is greater, my capacity for forgiveness as well. Life itself seems so fragile that I hold it like a wounded bird, so that it may grow well within my care and fly free again, carrying music on its wing.

In light of all this, I urge you to take the time to hear the birdsong in quiet April walks in the woods, to feel the sun in a sparkling sapphire sky with a salty brine in the air while sea ebbs and flows and you walk ALIVE, not alone, with a dog running free at your feet; to taste the truth of life in an intimate embrace, to delight, in the crunch of leaves beneath your shoes in Autumn’s lusty haze, in the swirling magic of December snow, and in the majesty of Earth reborn in Spring, to be grateful for all that graces your day in the smallest of creatures and in the smallest of gestures, for the stars in the midnight fields, and for Love wherever it may appear. I carry on!”
Ann Sweeten

Goodbye Blackie Boo ( 1/17/96 - 11/11/16)

Since your loving Soul
Took Wing on Friday night,
I hear and feel you every place,
And long to hold you tight.

To look into your eyes,
And kiss your little face,
Is now, but in my Memory,
One, Time, will not erase.

Little Shadow, I turned and you were there,
Now in Heaven’s star- clad clover,
Within my heart, Hence, Everywhere.

I’ll miss you forever, till I see you again…..
A.S.

Shiloh
(May 2002 – 12/26/17)

When did the sun begin to set? When did Autumn’s face appear?
When did unbridled days of youth ebb in the passing year?

So fast, so smart, so dear, your angelic face now white
With the brushstroke of age and God’s most holy light.

Our sentinel ‘ere present protecting those she loved,
At the gate, atop a stair or window high above.

She saw the world in many ways and even loved to watch TV.
Nothing missed her soulful gaze but Animal planet was best to see!

My Little graced the earth as floating on the air,
Now she runs amidst the clouds in climes forever fair.

A thousand words were spoken in silent moments sweet;
My Shiloh swaddled in my arms, no beauty more replete.

Your gentle eyes of brown locked upon mine, blue,
Speaking a tender dialogue awash in love’s forever hue.

Wings of light will carry you, my love will guide your way.
And in my heart I know, we’ll hold hands again, some day. A.S.


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Reviews


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Steve Sheppard

Ann Sweeten's best work so far, a must add for your collection
With a team of consummate professionals behind her, Ann Sweeten has pulled off a masterstroke of an album, one that will stir your emotions, that will leave you deeply moved, that will inspire you as well perhaps, but hopefully one that will leave you, in total gratitude of this most precious of things that we are blessed with, life.
Before Today, Beyond Tomorrow in my view is Sweetens best work so far, it challenged me to give myself to the moment and the music and at the end I had found an element of healing within its tones. This is an album created by an artist who clearly is in touch with her musical muse, the performances within are pristine, beautiful and emotive, and is an album that if you wish to add something of total quality to your collections, you simply must have at all costs.
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Helena Dee

ANN SWEETEN CREATES MORE POSITIVE, UPLIFTING, BEAUTIFUL, INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC
Hearing a new recording by pianist ANN SWEETEN is always a treat because the music is absolutely gorgeous. Her melodies, arrangements, style and touch are consistently superb. She is one of the best pianists and composers in new age music. Her latest album, BEFORE TODAY, BEYOND TOMORROW, as usual was co-produced by Sweeten with the legendary Will Ackerman (founder of Windham Hill Records and considered one of the top producers for this type of music). The album features Sweeten joined with a half-dozen other upper-echelon musicians helping her create a gentle, relaxing, highly-enjoyable sound. Those top guest musicians are Nancy Rumbel (English horn), Eugene Friesen (cello), Charlie Bisharat (violin), Premik Russell Tubbs (soprano saxophone), and Trisha Craig (flute). During the album’s conception Ann was diagnosed with Leukemia. According to Sweeten in the CD liner notes, the album title, BEFORE TODAY, BEYOND TOMORROW, refers to the time before diagnosis, and then to the horizon, beyond the immediate, with hope for the future. This is positive, uplifting, instrumental music reflective of Sweeten’s indomitable spirit.
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Steve Sheppard

An album created by an artist who clearly is in touch with her musical muse
There can be nothing more harrowing that a journey through Cancer and Ann Sweeten is doing this for the third time, but sometimes from that darkness can come great clarity, great wisdom and a true appreciation of the very fabric of life itself, perhaps even a oneness of spirit. On Before Today, Beyond Tomorrow, Ann performs with her heart on her sleeve and bares her musical soul, in an effort to allow us to perhaps see the things that we take granted in a different light, perhaps with a little more humility and gratitude along the way.
The opening offering is called Across The Midnight Sky, I personally found something quite hopeful and reflective in this one, in the way that one does whilst looking at a fading sunset in the hope of a better day tomorrow. The delicate nature of the performance by Sweeten on the piano is something to enjoy, she is partnered by a soft and calming English horn, courtesy of Nancy Rumbel.
The title track is up next and entitled of course Before Today, Beyond Tomorrow. Sweeten is at her most creative on this arrangement, one that is quite ambient in parts, but also melodic too. Sweeten is joined by Nancy Rumbel on English horn and Eugene Friesen on Cello. This is tapestry of musical thought and projection, created out of memories of the past, the reality of the present and hopes of a future yet to unfurl itself. The string section on this offering are truly beautiful, and the charm with which Sweeten plays is a real treat to listen to.
Beyond The Clouds is a sublime moment of ambience that I could easily sit and listen to for hours; I gaze up right now into the blueness of a summer’s day and watch the fragments of a few errant clouds drift past my window. Sweetens performance here is divine in creating a mood of blissful acceptance, perhaps a realisation that we are part of something much greater than we can perceive. The composition is beautifully played and with such a high level of sensitivity it has to be applauded.
The Empty Swing had a depth of sadness about its structure that was so profound and moving, Sweetens performance here was deeply moving and with the assistance of the master violinist Charlie Bisharat and the English Horn of Nancy Rumbel, we have an arrangement that manifested a moving opus of emptiness, in some way the swing could be telling the story of a past, some redolent memories of times gone and then, emptiness.
I have felt strong emotions during this review and those were enhanced further through this next composition called Saying Goodbye. The emotive nature of this took me back to 2012, the time when I had to say farewell to my first wife after her 5 year Cancer journey and after 34 years of marriage, which was the hardest thing to do. Here Sweetens song of goodbyes has a sense of healing within it that I find somewhat appealing and the multi-instrumental nature of the track is utterly embracing in all ways.
The coldness of this next piece is explained in the scientific nature of the composition being that it is the chromosome that is responsible for Ann’s latest Cancer journey, this is a hard piece to listen to, it is deeply mournful and will move you to tears. Sweetens piano is steely, as if depicting the unfeeling nature of the beast, then a juxtaposition of performance can be found with the string, horn and cello sections, they create from the darkness of the pit, the very emotional state of the performance, in the piece we now know as Philadelphia 22.
The most intriguing composition for me was this one, called Vanish. This could of course apply to anything we are losing or have lost, for me it comes at a time when I have pledged my alliance to all things green on the planet and saw a documentary the other day about the destruction of our polar caps. I can hear within this piece the opportunity of creating a composition of great power and sadness for this frightening occurrence, the multi instrumental nature of this arrangement is wonderfully cinematic, and Sweetens performance is among the best she has in my opinion, ever done.
I found this another difficult one to write about, Lullaby for Blackie Boo. I have two dogs, one of them I chose, and when the time comes to lose them it will hurt very badly indeed, but one must find solace in the great times had whilst alive. This is what this song does for me, written about the passing of one of Ann’s dogs, it gives me a reflective pleasure from all the laughs and fun we had, and I’m getting emotional now, so that must show you just what an excellent piece of emotive music this composition actually is.
Through Winter Panes is another ecological masterpiece and one that is of course close to my heart, being the nature boy that I am. The colourful energy of Sweetens wonderfully fluent performance is sublime; we’re also treated to a little more Soprano Saxophone from Premik Russell Tubbs, which adds just another wonderful dimension of classy music to this already charming arrangement.
Quite breathlessly we have found our way to the very edge of the album and we come to our last piece, this parting gift from the artist is called Like Smoke Through A Keyhole. A more gentle way to leave the album you will not find, we’re even gifted a sensitive performance on flute by Trisha Craig as well. Sweeten closes down this album with a picture perfect parting gift and then the music disappears into the ether, perhaps like smoke through a keyhole, gone, but never forgotten.
With a team of consummate professionals behind her, Ann Sweeten has pulled off a masterstroke of an album, one that will stir your emotions, that will leave you deeply moved, that will inspire you as well perhaps, but hopefully one that will leave you, in total gratitude of this most precious of things that we are blessed with, life.
Before Today, Beyond Tomorrow in my view is Sweetens best work so far, it challenged me to give myself to the moment and the music and at the end I had found an element of healing within its tones. This is an album created by an artist who clearly is in touch with her musical muse, the performances within are pristine, beautiful and emotive, and is an album that if you wish to add something of total quality to your collections, you simply must have at all costs.
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