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MP3 Paul Halley - Nightwatch

A dramatic, musical journey: a set of improvised themes and spontaneous variations, played on the vast Aeolian-Skinner in the even vaster Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City.

5 MP3 Songs
CLASSICAL: Organ, CLASSICAL: Impressionism

Paul Halley creates a dramatic, musical journey on “Nightwatch”.

“Improvisation is perhaps the most direct form of musical communication. It involves the performer and the listener in a relationship as partners on a voyage of the mind. It is an expedition into uncharted territory, neither safe nor predictable, but, hopefully, exciting…” says Paul Halley, in his remarks about the origins of the stunning recording of organ improvisations he created on the Great Organ of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

“Nightwatch” is a set of improvised themes and spontaneous variations, played on the vast Aeolian-Skinner in the even vaster Cathedral of St. John the Divine. The format of the music, and the idea for this recording, was derived from the improvisational sessions created by Halley for groups of teenagers late on Friday nights at the Cathedral through a program called, not coincidentally, “Nightwatch”. In keeping with the dramatic setting of the world’s largest gothic cathedral at night, Halley would play upon a variety of tonal effects to engage his young listeners on a journey from “dusk” to “dawn”. Employing a broad tonal and dynamic range, from silken string tones to bright and heraldic trumpets, Halley would establish a mystical and highly charged atmosphere.

Capturing the mood of one of these sessions on a recording was not easy. Halley describes the technical problems facing the producer/engineer Chris Brown: “The organ pipes are spread over a distance of 550 feet, and have a dynamic range of at least two symphony orchestras. Owing to a reverberation period of over seven seconds and a constantly changing “climate” in the Cathedral, editing was impossible, and of course, none of the music could be repeated! But thanks to Chris, who insisted on spontaneity at all times, the recording evolved into a suite of improvisations comprising a symphonic whole which I thought of as a night-journey and, in deference to my severest critics, entitled Nightwatch.”

This Pelagos release in compact disc form is, in fact, a reissue of the 1982 Gramavision release, Nightwatch. The original audio recording has been digitally re-mastered by Tom Bates, and the biographical material, cover design and photography have been updated.

About Paul Halley:
PAUL HALLEY, M. A. Cantab, FRCO, ARCT, was born in Romford, England in 1952 and received his early musical training in Ottawa, Canada, where he studied piano, organ and singing. At the age of sixteen, he was made an Associate of the Royal Conservatory of Toronto. Having been awarded the organ scholarship at Trinity College, Cambridge under Dr. Richard Marlow, he received his M.A. with prizes in composition and performance, and was made a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists, winning first prize in the College examinations. Via a circuitous route involving two years teaching in Jamaica, W.I., and the study of Development Economics at the University of Victoria, BC, Halley became Organist and Choirmaster at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City where he served for thirteen years, 1977 to 1990, transforming the Cathedral’s music program into a rich combination of classical and contemporary music. Concurrent with his tenure at the Cathedral, Halley became a principal member of The Paul Winter Consort and earned four Grammy Awards for his contributions as featured writer and performer on many Consort recordings.

Following his departure from the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in 1990, Halley settled in rural northwestern Connecticut and founded Joyful Noise, Inc., the non-profit organization which administers the children’s choir, Chorus Angelicus and the adult ensemble, Gaudeamus. These choirs continue to bring their celebrated sound to audiences throughout North America and Europe through an annual concert series of classical masterworks and contemporary repertoire, tours and recordings. In 1999, Halley became Director of Music at Trinity Episcopal Church, Torrington, CT and established the Joyful Noise choirs there as Artists-In-Residence. At Trinity, Halley conducts a 30-voice, semi-professional choir, mentors an Organ Scholar from Yale University’s Institute of Sacred Music, and creates fresh hymn descants and new settings of liturgical music. Halley has expanded the church’s music ministry to include monthly Vespers services, and the Trinity Arts Series, a forum for the work of professional musicians and artists in a sacred space.

Halley’s compositions have been commissioned, performed and licensed by many notable artists and organizations including Sony Entertainment, Windham Hill/BMG Music, Hal Leonard, the New Jersey Symphony, John Williams and the Boston Pops Orchestra, The Louisville Symphony, Canadian Brass, Margie Gillis, and Jennifer Muller and The Works. Halley receives annual Composer Awards from ASCAP, and his recordings and performances are frequently broadcast on National Public Radio and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Recently commissioned works include a song cycle for singers Louise Winter and Gerald Finley, and the new choral/orchestral work “In Sideribus Domi: At Home In The Stars” for the Clay Center of Science and Art, Charleston, WV through the auspices of the American Composers Forum.

Halley’s compositions and recordings are produced and distributed by Pelagos Incorporated for which Halley acts as Creative Director. Among Pelagos’ celebrated recordings are: Nightwatch, a reissue of Halley’s landmark 1982 improvisation album, recorded on the Great Organ of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine; Sound Over All Waters, a compilation of Halley’s choral works and arrangements for gospel singer Theresa Thomason and the professional choral ensemble, Keramion; Triptych, Halley’s keyboard works for the unique trio of piano, pipe organ, and harpsichord, recorded at Spivey Hall in Atlanta; and Untraveled Worlds, a glorious compilation of world music repertoire presented by Chorus Angelicus.

Halley lives with his wife and business partner Margaret Race on a mountaintop farm in Norfolk, Connecticut. With their six children, they make an annual pilgrimage to the islands off the south shore of Nova Scotia to spend summer days messing around in an endearing catboat which rejoices in the name, “Magnificat”. A fondness for the province is the tenable excuse for an imminent job change and relocation. Beginning July 2007, Halley will assume the Music Directorship of three venerable Halifax institutions: St. George’s Anglican Church, the Atlantic School of Theology, and King''s College Chapel, where Halley hopes to establish an Organ and Choral Scholars Program, and a School of Sacred Music.

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