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Montana composers Matthew Lyon and Christine Dickinson follow in the footsteps of their acclaimed album Quiet Paths with a collection of songs that are inspired by the small joys of life: the first flowers of spring, a winter sky dancing with stars, a road leading home. Joined by cellist Janet Haarvig, Dickinson and Lyon use Celtic harp, piano, guitars, flutes, recorders and keyboards to weave a quiet tapestry of song celebrating the fragile beauty of the northwest.
Snow on Balsams There are some things that we remember fondly about winter after the snow has gone. Hopefully it is the small, delicate images like multi-colored snowflakes and not just the cold and inconvenience, which linger. There are two small balsams outside the step near my folks’ house, which collect snow in the winter until they are covered. So, after a heavy snowfall the trees disappear under a quilt leaving two white, silent sentries with outstretched arms near the back door. They greet you coming and going, which is the way I like to think about winter..
Fragile Beauty solo harp Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote: “Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.” It is always my hope that during our lives we will never tire to seek out God within and in each other; and to be given clarity in our efforts to find and protect the beauty we discover in the world, for those are the places offering us strength and inspiration - even where a single flower blooms.
Watching the stars This piece for harp and cello is played in tribute to all the nights each one of us has stood in the darkness with our heads tilted back and eyes looking up to the treasure in the sky.
On Big Meadows This is a road to a place in Montana to a house I have known longer than any other in my life. We were married there, my brother was married nearby and my parents live there. It is home also to deer, rabbits, bears, frogs, snakes, squirrels, a large family of partridge and of course, the many beloved wild birds at the folks’ feeder.
Mora Road There is a place where three rivers wander together towards the sea. It is tall with cedar and hemlock, and in the winter the elk walk through the wetlands. The white trillium grows large and the quiet in the forest is penetrating. At one river’s mouth, below the narrow road the eagles, otter, and herons gather not far from tall sea stacks. We have slowly driven this road countless times and it is always with new wonder as we reach the beach - the Pacific greeting us with a deep, deep voice.
A muse for Amy harp and voice In each of us is a quiet place where our spirit touches the deep well of creativity; a place where we may catch a glimpse, however brief, of what we have the potential to be. It is a hidden garden that must be tended, a green landscape waiting to be explored, a child’s voice that sings to us from around the next bend of the river. It is the treasure buried in our backyard, waiting for the day we awake to the memory of where it is buried.
Heron’s flight The great blue heron has always seemed to grace our travels no matter where we are going. They are most numerous on our quick trips north on 93, past the Ninepipes bird refuge, from our home in Mission. However, on one trip to the west coast we were crossing by ferry at Kingston, WA and there it was a great blue just taking to the air off a pier, coasting beside us until we reached the other shore - a graceful and noble bird.
The changing picture cello parts by Janet Haarvig As I write this it is the end of December in a year (2001) that has been trying and heartbreaking for so many people, far and wide. May we all see peace, comfort and brighter days in the coming new year, from NYC to Kabul. “The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time.” Abraham Lincoln
Spring Valley, Montana There happen to be several “Spring Valleys” in Montana however, this particular place lies north of everything else and east of almost everything by our standards here in the western part of MT. Only a few miles from the Canadian border, and only a few miles from the small town of Scobey are the remains of the foundation of an old house where my Dad lived as a baby. We visited this spot last summer. It was the greenest I’ve ever seen it there. The rainfall had been way above normal in this small pocket of Montana while the rest of the State had been suffering from drought. The wild flowers, of a dozen or more varieties, were knee-high. We took in the virtually endless landscape, a brisk breeze blowing the tall grasses. We sorted through the rubble of the house, finding pieces of pottery and glass. Some of these treasures we brought home with us— imports of over 500 miles away and a time when my Grandparents were raising their family, just like we are doing now.
Their city of sand Beach sand is a marvel even for adults, but it is truly fun to watch our boys and the creations they come up with on long afternoons by the lake or the ocean. It is especially intriguing when you have so much material to work with: smooth rocks, gull’s feathers, sea shells, drift wood worn smooth and twisted into interesting shapes.enough material to build an entire miniature city.
The mother cedar Solo guitar Many of our favorite places to visit are graced with huge trees. Some of these are giant spruce or cedar, whispering in the wind, tall and magnificent in their centuries of age. Our small family, linking hands can barely go all the way around them. A few of our favorites have themselves died, but remain as nurseries to other trees of their kind. Their ancient trunks shelter small trees, which will reach the light above the forest floor in only a few years.
Waltz for day’s end This piece is for those quiet evenings spent after a busy day with that special one. “Your only treasures are those which you carry in your heart.” Demophilus
Stories by the fire For time untold people have sat by the fire and talked, laughed, cried and told stories. One learns so much hearing other people talk about their families, their past, their dreams, and their fears. I suppose this is a piece about being the listener to so many stories through the years, sitting near the hearth-sometimes telling a few myself .
Be thou my Vision (Ancient Irish melody) This old hymn is a family favorite. My Methodist hymnal dates its translation by Mary Byrne in 1905. The words to this hymn come from the Irish monastic tradition. It may date from 700 CE. It is an example of a “lorica” or breastplate - almost a sort of incantation to be recited for protection arming oneself for spiritual or physical battle. The text is set to the hymn tune “Slane,” which is of Irish folk origin. We have arranged the piece for harp, soprano recorder and guitar.
Stones along the shore Solo harp We tend to collect small stones picked up on our travels; often drawn to places where earth meets water. Each shoreline is a world of new mysteries to discover, a “thin place” where the everyday and the sacred dance together. A stone in a pocket is carried as a prayer.
The road home a piece for guitar and cello Most all of us have experienced more than one home, and when one feels ‘at home’ in those favorite places the road back acquires new meaning. This song is for all those homes away from home.
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pray for peace...