John Steiner | Into the Green

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Classical: Minimalism New Age: Neo-Classical Moods: Featuring Piano
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Into the Green

by John Steiner

John's music has been compared to both Erik Satie and Johannes Brahms, perhaps in a more economic style. In a more modern sense, pianist Ryuichi Sakamoto and composer Brian Eno come to mind.
Genre: Classical: Minimalism
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Rain
2:02 $0.99
2. Morning Bright
3:02 $0.99
3. Ralston Dream
4:43 $0.99
4. Midnight
4:38 $0.99
5. A Distant Memory
3:46 $0.99
6. O Mio Babbino Caro
1:45 $0.99
7. Song For A Lonely Meteorite
2:00 $0.99
8. The Inner Mind Is Still
2:28 $0.99
9. Peace
1:46 $0.99
10. Sunrise
1:40 $0.99
11. Be Thou My Vision
2:00 $0.99
12. Give Us Faith
2:41 $0.99
13. Chopin Prelude in C Minor
2:22 $0.99
14. Mozart In Ireland
2:05 $0.99
15. Yolanda
3:08 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Interview by Deborah Arca Mooney of

Ask John Steiner about the inspiration for his new solo piano album, and you are likely to receive a divine response.
"I feel most connected to the flow of spirit when channeling new music," says the composer of Into the Green (Philomuse), the follow-up to his critically-acclaimed album, Out of the Blue. "Many of my improvisations eventually become written compositions ending up on my CDs. My intention is to bring healing vibrations to the world through my music."
Some of the tracks on Into the Green are inspired by piano improvisations Steiner created during services at the First Presbyterian Church of San Rafael, California and the San Francisco Center for Spiritual Living, where he is a regular worship leader. During a performance in December, for example, he worked with suggestions from the audience regarding mood or thought, and created improvisational pieces on the spot. A woman in the audience suggested the word "peace," and subsequently, a final version of the resulting improvisational piece is found on his new CD, aptly titled "Peace."
Recorded in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Into the Green's refreshing sound may have been enhanced by the long hikes Steiner enjoyed during his time off from the recording process. The new album was produced by J S Kingfisher (Vesica Piscis, Muzoracle, Musician's Dice) and is scheduled for release on his innovative Philomuse label July 21, 2009.
On the same date, Philomuse is also reissuing Steiner's earlier album, Out of the Blue, which received the following praise from CD Baby: "With romantic and impressionistic influences, this is the perfection of classical embracing easy listening. These elegant, moving and cozy pieces for piano, cello and vocals are the epitome of this genre...way too intelligent to skip past."
A New York native, Steiner made San Francisco his home in 1989 and works professionally as a performer, composer, producer, pianist, and keyboardist. He holds a B.A. in Music from San Francisco State University.
We caught up with John recently and talked with him about the inspiration for his music, his church work, and what he hopes people receive from his music.

Patheos: How would you describe your new CD, Into the Green?
Steiner: I would say the music is reflective, uplifting, meditative, and healing. The pieces come from a spiritual place and serve a grounding and joyful place in my life.
Listen to two tracks from Into the Green:
John Steiner - Midnight
John Steiner - Be Thou My Vision
Patheos: People often struggle to "categorize" your music. What words do you use to describe your music in general?
Steiner: Modern romantic, artful, evoking the spirit, awakening the deeper self.
Patheos: I have a sense that your music is an extension of your spiritual life. How would you describe the connection between your music and your life?
Steiner: It's such a big part of my daily life. Whether I'm gigging, composing, or improvising, if you'll excuse the pun, music really is the rhythm of my life.
Patheos: I always wonder what initially inspires a piece of music. What are some of your inspirations for composing?
Steiner: In recent years, my music ministry has called me to compose. Sometimes I'm asked to compose for a certain theme, other times I compose in anticipation of performing during a church service. It could be a church or secular holiday or it could be a dedication to a friend or family member who has passed. Track 15 on Into the Green, "Yolanda," was composed in memory of my good friend Yolanda Bain, who passed last year.
Patheos: Can you share a bit about what happens when you compose a new piece? What's the process for you?
Steiner: That's hard to explain. Sometimes, I sit at the piano and it just happens. Say I choose to write a new piece. I may peck around, try a few melody or chord ideas. It doesn't all come at once. Sometimes I work for a while and decide nothing is happening, nothing worth saving, that is. Other times, I get an immediate hit on a tune. Often times the creative spirit comes while I'm playing a gig. Track 3, "Ralston Dream," is an example of this. The song came to me while performing at a memorial service. When a piece comes to me in this way, I'll record the piece in real time on my cell phone and flesh it out at home later.
Patheos: A cell phone! Brilliant. I particularly like the track on your new CD, "Midnight." (Listen here) What was your inspiration for that piece?
Steiner: Consider the quiet that comes around midnight. There's a calm energy at that hour, a clarity. Many are asleep. This is what I was going for - capturing the openness that occurs during the wee hours of the night.
Patheos: I know that much of your music is improvisational ... what is it about that form that draws you?
Steiner: My musical path began at age five, pecking out notes on the old family upright. From early on, I've always enjoyed experimenting with different harmonies, figuring out songs by ear on record or radio. There's something exciting about improvising, both to the performer and the listener. It's fresh and alive in the moment. To me it's as comfortable as a broken-in pair of shoes.
Patheos: I've seen you perform many times, and I always enjoy watching you. It's clear you are having an internal experience with the music and it draws me in. What happens within you when you play a piece of your music? Is music a form of prayer for you?
Steiner: When I play, I am drawn to the moment. Time slows down. Through my music, I seek to slow down the pace of everyday life. With this slowing, more detail becomes noticeable. You might say I begin to notice the space between the lines. The lasting tones of the piano are like a prayer.
Patheos: I've heard you talk about feeling people's energy when you play in front of an audience. Can you say more about that? Does something change when you play in front of people?
Steiner: I've heard most performers talk of the anxiety before hitting the stage. I have experienced that, but I think the nervous feeling is coming more from me. That is, my response to the many focused on the one that is me at the piano. At my piano performance last December, I was able to shift my focus to the audience. By prompting them for prayerful thoughts of what to improvise to, I was able to engage the energy of the audience in a very personal way.
Patheos: How would you like people to approach your music?
Steiner: With a fresh perspective. I'd rather not say what genre it conforms to. Just sit back, listen, and feel.
Patheos: I know that you are also a worship leader for a Presbyterian church... how have your music and compositions shifted for that particular audience?
Steiner: I appreciate the quietude of the early service I perform at my Presbyterian church on Sunday mornings. As I said earlier, my music, be it instrumental or vocal, delivers a loving prayerful message. I look forward to the gentle quality of the service, and my music, be it composed or improvised, both leads and reflects this peaceful vibe.
Patheos: What do you like about writing music for church worship?
Steiner: I enjoy sharing my God-given talent with both of my church congregations. In return, I receive so much love and appreciation.
Patheos: What other musicians inspire you?
Steiner: Oscar Peterson, Joni Mitchell, The Beatles, Flamenco music: Paco de Lucia, Duke Ellington, Nina Simone, Brazilian music: Antonio Carlos Jobim, Weather Report.
Patheos: Finally, what do you hope people will take away from your music?
Steiner: Delight, and a deeper sense of peace.



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