Lynn Tredeau is an award-winning pianist/composer whose music I've been reviewing since her 2015 debut, Echoes of Life
. In just the past few weeks, Lynn has released two albums - Many Branches
and her second Christmas album, The Everlasting Light
. Both albums are very beautiful, so this seemed like a good time to do an interview. I think you'll enjoy getting to know Lynn and her music better, too - I certainly have!
KP: Hi Lynn! How are things in Idaho today?
LT: Hi Kathy! Life in Idaho is wonderful. We have sunny skies, warm temperatures and looking forward to the holiday season.
KP: Congratulations on releasing two albums (your ninth and tenth) almost back-to-back! That must have taken some energy and planning! Did you always plan to release them about a month apart?
LT: Creating and releasing two albums at the same time was definitely a challenge. It sounded like a great idea on paper when I was planning my year, but scheduling all the moving parts of artwork, mastering and promotion gave me some sleepless nights for sure. Fortunately, it all came together and both albums are off to a great start.
I really enjoyed reviewing both of them and am looking forward to reviewing the songbooks, too! Let's talk about The Everlasting Light
first since it's a Christmas album. There is so much Christmas music out there, and I'm always interested in how artists choose which songs to arrange and record.
Click on album covers to
go to Kathy's reviews.
LT: I started arranging Christmas music for my students many years ago. Each student received a songbook of Holiday tunes that was adjusted to be at their level with the right amount of challenge to keep them interested. I get messages from students to this day telling how they still play those songbooks every Christmas time. So when it came time for me to arrange for myself, it was difficult to decide where to start.
KP: Wow! What a treat for your students!
LT: My first Christmas album was more of the traditional tunes, but with this one, I brought in a few lesser-known songs and of course a couple of originals. Many of the songs on this second Holiday album are also songs that my father, with his beautiful tenor voice, would sing around the house each Christmas. Of course, that brings me wonderful memories.
KP: The music feels very personal! You released your first Christmas album, SnowLight, back in 2015, and it included your original piece, "Pines Dressed in Winter," which also appeared on your Echoes of Life album. It is also on The Everlasting Light. Is that your most popular piece? I haven't compared them - are they all different arrangements?
LT: "Pines Dressed in Winter" has been a popular track. The first two releases were identical recordings. I have been in the process of revisiting some of those early releases and giving them a fresh feel. It felt like the perfect time to re-imagine this track and include it on the new Christmas album.
KP: It's a beauty! The whole album is very relaxing and graceful - a style you are widely known for. Did you set out to do a quiet, almost meditative Christmas album?
LT: I don't think it was a conscious decision to create a meditative Christmas album. As I was looking at the recorded tracks that would go on the album, I realized the direction was more subdued. Sort of Christmas mood music and that made several of the last recorded tracks easy to select. "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and "Pines Dressed in Winter" being two of the last tracks recorded.
KP: I really like that the music easily slips into the background, but the more you actually listen to it, the more you hear in the music. Do you have sheet music for the album, too?
LT: It makes me very happy to know you have enjoyed it and I love hearing your insights. Your ability to capture the nuances is why your music reviews are so valuable. Oh and I almost forgot...yes, I do have sheet music for this and all of my albums.
Great! Your other new album is Many Branches
and is a collection of twelve original piano solos. Tell us about the title.
Lynn at Whisperings Awards Concert 2018
LT: The title speaks of a tree representing each person's life. As I grow older, I think a great deal about the tree my life has grown. The many parts of who I am, my interests, the people in my life and the many changes that have happened along the way. I can see the branches and how they are individual parts of what make up my life. Some of the branches are new additions and some have been with me since my youth. Each branch has grown through the years and passed through the seasons of life. New leaves, changing color, shedding the old leaves and branches to make room for new ones again in a continuous cycle of life.
KP: Very interesting! "Sunshine Tomorrow" is one of my favorites on that album. What inspired it?
LT: I was having a really bad day and was trying to be optimistic that everything would be OK. I kept telling myself that tomorrow would be a better day. As the Longfellow poem says “Into each life some rain must fall,” and this is my optimistic counter that there will be “Sunshine
KP: "On a Distant Hill" seems very melancholy. Does it have a story?
LT: "On a Distant Hill" is about that longing to see what is over in the distance. My love for hiking helped to develop this song title. Knowing that reaching the top of one hill always presents another hill to climb just over there. I can never climb them all and there will always be a distant hill.
KP: "Sail Away" is one of the most relaxing pieces I've heard recently. What inspired it?
LT: Thank you. It is one of my new favorites to play as well. There are few things better in life than time spent on the water. I love the gentle sway and rock of the boat and I am mesmerized by the gentle sound of water swirling alongside the boat as it glides along, especially when coupled with a beautiful sunset.
KP: I can really relate to that! I also really like "Moon Jellies" and remember being almost hypnotized watching them at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California. How did this piece come about?
LT: The jellyfish are one of my favorite things to watch at the aquarium also. The way they propel themselves, seemingly without any effort and gently float in their own water ballet. One recent trip to the Salt Lake City aquarium introduced me to a very beautiful species of jellyfish named “Moon Jellies.” With a unique shape and wonderful glow, they inspired this solo piano release.
KP: What about "Shadows"?
LT: This track was me experimenting with a more minimal style and was inspired by things that sit just outside our view. "Life in the Shadows" is filled with uncertainty and mystery. It is camouflaged with darkness and hidden from a first glance.
KP: I've also been curious about "Technicolor Blanket."
LT: Many years ago we purchased a vibrant, colored blanket from a beach vendor. That blanket has provided comfort at picnics, trips to the beach and has been our favorite seating at many outdoor concerts. It has earned the name “Technicolor Blanket” and has many memories attached to it.
Okay, let's get to know you
a little better! Where were you born and where did you grow up?
Click on album covers to
go to Kathy's reviews.
LT: I was born in St Paul and I grew up in a tiny town in Northern Minnesota call Cloquet.
KP: When did you start getting interested in music?
LT: I had a love for music as far back as I can remember. My earliest memories are of helping my Mom hold the hymnal in church and singing along. Of course, I had memorized the lyrics, being much too young to read.
KP: When did you start playing the piano?
LT: I began taking piano lessons from a wonderful woman that lived around the corner in my neighborhood at about age 5. I continued with lessons from her until I graduated from high school.
KP: From what I've read, you learned to play quite a few different instruments. Tell us about that.
LT: Music was a huge part of my childhood. I pursued music lessons from every opportunity I could find. I had private lessons for piano, flute, clarinet and then found a guitar class. That led me to playing the electric guitar for the Jazz band at school. A neighbor gave me a saxophone that their daughter had stopped playing and I spent time teaching myself the sax. At 16, I convinced the organist at our church to teach me the pipe organ. That is an instrument I would love to get back to learning.
KP: Interesting! I took piano lessons from our church organist, too, and begged her to teach me organ so I could play some "heavy Bach." She refused! She said it would ruin my piano touch, but I have to wonder if she thought I might try to take her job at some point so I would have access to the church organ.
When did you and Allen move to Alaska?
LT: Allen was offered a job in Alaska in 1996.
KP: How long did you live there?
LT: We lived there for almost 7 years.
KP: When did you start teaching piano lessons?
LT: I began teaching a few students when my oldest child went off to college. I realized my nest would soon be empty and that there would be a new chapter to write in my life. I started small and gradually developed into teaching piano to home-schooled children and received payment from the Anchorage Schools.
LT: I don't teach anymore. I decided to retire from teaching when my husband retired and we moved to Idaho.
KP: I think when we first met you were living in Seattle. How long did you live there?
LT: We moved from Alaska to the Seattle area and lived there 9 years.
KP: Did you teach there, too?
LT: Yes, I taught about 40 weekly students by that point.
KP: When did you start composing your own music and what got you started?
LT: I had been creating arrangements for students for years, but had never created anything from scratch until I heard Michele McLaughlin's music. I was immediately impressed by her style and purchased countless pages of her sheet music. It inspired me to find my own voice and style.
KP: Michele has definitely been a mover and shaker in the solo piano world! I have nothing but respect for her and what she has been able to achieve.
Have you always done improvisation? Did that make it easier to compose once you had the desire to start?
LT: My earliest music training was all about mastering the music some else had written. Improv was touched on only briefly. Improvisation is something I have had to develop much later in life, but it has been the key to creating music.
KP: I had a similar experience in my piano lessons - improvisation was basically forbidden, so I never got very comfortable with it.
How long did you take piano lessons?
LT: I took piano lessons for 12 years.
KP: Since you played so many instruments, did you play in bands and orchestras?
I don't think there was a day of the week I wasn't at some sort of rehearsal. There was concert band, jazz band, marching band, full orchestra, pit orchestra & wind ensemble. With all the band & orchestra concerts, summer band camp and traveling with the marching band, I don't know how my parents managed it all.
Click on album covers to
go to Kathy's reviews.
KP: You really lived and breathed music as you were growing up!
Who or what do you consider to be strong influences on your original music?
LT: I would have to say Michele McLaughlin was a big influence on how I approached my early compositions. David Nevue, Joe Bongiorno and Ludovico Einaudi all inspired me, and I tried to learn from listening to their music.
KP: Who are some of your favorite composers and performers?
LT: I have a very eclectic taste in music. Of course, all of those early influences continue to be among my favorites. I also love listening to the crooners of days gone by - music by Nat King Cole & Frank Sinatra. I have a deep appreciation for the classical compositions that I grew up with, although I don't have very much time to sit at the piano with Beethoven these days.
KP: You released your first album, Echoes of Life, in 2015 and have done nine more albums since then. Once you started composing, did it seem like the music just kept flowing?
LT: For the first few years, it did seem like I was creating something new at the piano every day. There have been a few dry spells in the last couple of years.
KP: I think that happens to everyone! Are any of your kids musicians or musical?
LT: All three of our kids have learned instruments. One played violin, one played trombone and our daughter played the clarinet at such a high level that she was performing with the University of Alaska wind ensemble in her senior year of high school.
KP: Wow! You have received an impressive number of awards for your music. Tell us about them.
LT: My first Christmas album, Snowlight (A Christmas Memory), was selected as the 2015 Best Holiday album by Enlightened Piano Radio. Then my 5th & 6th albums Fellowship of Solitude & All the Pieces were awarded the 2018 & 2019 Best Solo Piano Album at Zone Music Reporter.
KP: When did you move to your current home in Idaho?
Our current home is our second house in Idaho. We wanted to return to country living and moved to this wonderful house in 2017.
KP: That must be quite different from both Alaska and Seattle! My impression is that you are rather isolated and away from the city. Is that accurate?
LT: Life in the high desert is much different than any other place I have lived. Our house is 30 minutes from the large city of Nampa. We are surrounded by rolling foothills, a lovely view of the Snake River from our living room and a backdrop of the Owyhee Mountains on the other side of the house.
KP: I know you are also hosting house concerts. Tell us about some of them that are coming up.
LT: When we purchased this house it was with the intention of having house concerts. This upcoming year will include pianists Gary Schmidt, Michele McLaughlin, guitarist Wayne White, multi-instrumentalist Joseph L Young and the violin & guitar duo Perpetual Motion aka, Tom Carleno & Josie Quick.
KP: I sure wish I was closer. Those all sound great!
When did you become a Whisperings Artist?
LT: I joined the Whisperings family in 2017.
KP: How did the Covid pandemic affect your music and career?
LT: I was luckier than some when the pandemic hit. I only had to cancel one house concert and I have the privilege to record from home, so for me the music continued. I did however have a separate and unrelated health crisis during the pandemic that took me away from the music for many months.
KP: I'm so glad you're better now!
If you could have any three wishes, what would they be?
LT: I would love to have the money and space for a Shigeru Kawai Concert Grand.
I would love to have my grandchildren live closer to us.
Someday I would love to travel to New Zealand. That last one is a childhood dream... Maybe someday.
KP: Is there anything else you'd like to talk about?
LT: Please let me take a moment to Thank You for thinking of me. I was thrilled to hear from you about this interview. I so appreciate having the opportunity to let your readers know more about me.
You are more than welcome, Lynn! Happy Holidays!
Click on songbook covers
to go to Kathy's reviews.
Click on songbook covers
to go to Kathy's reviews.
Many thanks to Lynn Tredeau for taking the time to do this interview! For more information about Lynn and her music, be sure to visit her website
and her Artist Page
here on MainlyPiano.com.