Diana Rowan | The Bright Knowledge

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World: Balkan World: Middle East Contemporary Moods: Spiritual
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The Bright Knowledge

by Diana Rowan

The mystic's journey; powerful, magical music traveling through strident Balkan, enigmatic Middle Eastern, and sacred Indian lands.
Genre: World: Balkan
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Hijaz Ilahi
6:44 $0.99
2. Your Soul Is a Chosen Landscape
5:50 $0.99
3. Bucimis
2:24 $0.99
4. The Rhapsodist
5:04 $0.99
5. The Marvelous Year
6:11 $0.99
6. Live Without Thought of Dying
2:43 $0.99
7. Warp & Weft
5:14 $0.99
8. The Belfast Set
4:04 $0.99
9. Yishru Shalom
2:22 $0.99
10. Up High in the Clouds
3:07 $0.99
11. Devoted
7:24 $0.99
12. Carnival
6:53 $0.99
13. The Roaring Silence
6:07 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
"Which is first - breadth of repertoire or musicianship? No matter. The sum total will titilate even the most jaded audience. Diana is an astounding harpist - playing pieces that range from inspired traditional-based tunes to improvisational skin-prickling scats. Consider it a blessed time, to have this music seep into your being."
Anne Emerick, Wisteria Ways concert series, Oakland CA

The Bright Knowledge (from the Gaelic imbas forosnai) is sudden illumination born from clearing our path. This fierce inspiration, often poetic and artistic in nature, comes as a fully-formed gift for our efforts, from all who have come before us, and from the sacred. Each of these pieces comes from that place. From fertile darkness, the bright knowledge ignites the spark we all carry inside.

Hijaz Ilahi: arranged in raga style. Gratitude to Deepak Ram for bringing Hindustani music into my life, and Neva Ozgen for introducing me to the mystical chant.

Your Soul is a Chosen Landscape: Faure’s piece sets the Paul Verlaine poem from which I’ve taken the first line as the title of this set. The quote is both mysterious and familiar, full of promise. Spanning a continent and hundreds of years, these songs sit happily together, highlighting each other’s golden beauty.

Bucimis: A passionate romp through the keys in 15/16, with Peter Maund on percussion and Rachel Durling on violin. Sometimes you just want to have fun, and these guys are up for it.

The Rhapsodist: WH Auden’s poem The Shield of Achilles SPURRED me to write this piece. The poem references the passage in The Iliad where Thetis, Achilles’ mother, asks Hephaestos to make a shield for her son depicting the glories of Greece’s military accomplishments. Auden re-imagines Hephaestos actually revealing the true horrors of war. Written just after WWII, the poem goes on to explore the nature of violence and our complicity in it. It could be written for today. ‘Rhapsodist’ is the ancient Greek term for a poet or bard, Homer often being considered the last rhapsodist.

The Marvelous Year: composed for my 30th birthday by my soul mate Ken RIP. Ken said it is about me, but I when I play it, it bursts with his joyous presence. Miss you Ken; until we meet again.

Live Without Thought of Dying: written for Bon Singer and Lily Storm, with love. Exploring a theme I’ve been obsessed with since childhood, the melody sprung from a single, potent interval I heard Lily sing and was furthered by St. Catherine’s mystical yet earthy words.

Warp & Weft: the fabric of our lives, weaving together in unexpected and beautiful ways. After Ken died XXX I came to know his sister Rachel, a very painful experience bringing us together in something hopeful. The finale represents all souls delightedly reconnecting, talking up a storm.

The Belfast Set: for my parents, Phyllis and John Rowan. I was born during one of the most violent stages in Belfast’s (my family’s hometown for generations) tortured history, and have often wondered how difficult it was for my young parents to have coped during that time.

Yishru Shalom: song of peace, by my beloved friend and mentor, Bon. Where would I be without her?

Up High in the Clouds: variations on a melody found in the UCB music library, hidden away in a dusty book that hadn’t been opened for years. I was drawn to its combination of sweetness, strength and offbeat phrase lengths, much as I’m drawn to people.

Devoted: the first piece, introduced to me by Lily (and with several arranging ideas inspired by her), talks of walking to church (or in my mind, any sacred place) at night. The chant represents arriving and soaking in the DIVINE atmosphere. The Cypriot song (from my great friend Anna Kallis) represents the lesson/sermon, asking us what death means; why are the young girls and babies taken away? Death answers: “If I didn’t take them, I wouldn’t be Death.” Still leaving questions, of course. The chant and first song lead us back out to the world.

Carnival: another fun ride, I envision this as people jumping in and out at a musical gathering, almost colliding, full of energy and party spirit.

The Roaring Silence: a piece written over almost a decade, following many twists and turns IN my life. ‘Roaring silence’ references both the positive aspect of X perfect stillness and the more painful experience of gaping absence. Starting in Celtic style (my origins), moving into the classical realm with a canon (adolescence and early adulthood), going into a more personal voice with a section inspired by an Odysseas Elytis poem containing the line “This is how I speak…,” and concluding with an outburst I call the Joy Theme. I’d say things are getting better.
Special thanks to Michiel Frishert, Anna Kallis, and Jim Helman

Diana Rowan, Cithara Nova harp by John Westling www.piperharp.com
Rachel Durling, violin
Gary Hegedus, tarhu
Peter Maund, percussion
Bon Singer, voice
Lily Storm, voice
Erica Leonard, voice

Recorded Summer 2008
Engineered by Jim Helman at Hypercussion Studio, Berkeley, California www.jimhelman.com
Mastered by Jan Erik Kongshaug at Rainbow Studio, Oslo, Norway www.rainbowstudio.no

Graphics by Anna Kallis
Photos by Michael Van Auken www.mvaphoto.com

"I always thought harps were sissy, delicate instruments. The way Diana Rowan plays makes even non-harp fans sit up and notice. Not exactly Celtic, but international, melodic, rhythmic, syncopated, complex. This harp music has cojones. Don’t miss a chance to hear The Bright Knowledge."
Steven Friedland, 5th St Farms concert series, Berkeley CA

"Diana's shining soul and sparkling personality are conducted through her fingers through her harp to the very heart of any listener. She could take Happy Birthday and interpret in such a way that you'd laugh, cry and change your life."
Bon Singer, premier conductor of Balkan music in the US, founder of Kitka and Ya Elah

"Extremely beautiful playing...most gratifying...such fine musicianship"
San Francisco Classical Voice

"Her harp is lyrical and ethereal, yes, but also uncommonly primal and percussive, rife with her signature follow-through, where even aural decay delivers deeply felt musical nuance."
Laura Glen Louis, author of "Talking in the Dark"

"You are truly a gift sent to me by the Harp Gods...you are the culmination of all my work, the highlight of my entire harp making career. There is no one I've ever heard that is so "at one" with the Nova, and takes it on journeys that can't even be imagined by others."
John Westling, Coquille OR, maker of Diana's harps



to write a review

Ahmet Aydogan

Diana's innovative composition and arrangements, her choice of vocalists and musicians with whom to collaborate and her consummate skill all come together perfectly in this, her second, CD. Haunting melodies, rich vocal harmonies and skillful playing are a delight. Diana is able to elicit strong, rich tones from an instrument known for its delicacy. She can be gentle, too, coaxing soft, moody tones. Don't miss this one.