Carry the Light
Sharon K. Cooper
2004 / Sharon K. Cooper
Review by Kathy Parsons
Carry the Light is a gorgeous collection of 17th century Baroque melodies that are arranged with improvised harmonies by pianist Sharon K. Cooper. A longtime Spiritual Formation retreat teacher, co-founder of Contemplative Ministries of the Pacific Northwest, a published songwriter and poet, and a piano teacher in Alaska, Cooper brings a wealth of experience, spirituality, and deep emotion to the music. Cooper has retitled the fifteen pieces to put them in the context of the 21st century, giving the original titles, composers’ names, and their years of birth and death for reference. She has also included short meditations on each piece in the liner notes, some of which are original, and some quoted from other sources. Some of the arrangements are very contemporary while others retain their original Baroque style. The collection is so well layed-out that the pieces dovetail from one to the next without a jarring shift in styles. While many different emotions and experiences are portrayed, the CD holds a very cohesive mood of peacefulness and spirituality. It is interesting to note that the album was recorded on David Lanz’s piano in his Seattle studio, and produced by Lanz’s longtime producer, Paul Speer.
The CD opens with “The Gathering,” which has come down to us as the hymn, “We Gather Together.” A hymn of thanksgiving, Cooper’s arrangement is quiet, thoughtful, and contemporary. “Unitive Love” is a prayer for inner peace as well as with the rest of the world. “Wounded Child” is tragic, mournful, and achingly beautiful. “Rhythms From the Inside Out” retains a very Baroque flavor, conveying sadness and hope. “Hope Will Live Again” is a gentle, contented piece that is based on a melody by Pachelbel that isn’t “Canon in D”! “All Creatures Praise” is a beautiful updating of the hymn “All Creatures of Our God and King.” “The Vigil” tells of a light in the darkness, full of hope. “Sacred Breath” is lighter and more joyful. The closing track, “Loving One, Rise Up and Heal Us” is a prayer based on “Beach Spring,” which was composed quite awhile after the other pieces, and is hauntingly beautiful.
Sharon Cooper has outdone herself with Carry the Light. Deeply spiritual, and also peaceful and soothing, the music has a calming and renewing presence that many artists aspire to, but not many reach at this level. Give your soul a gift of music, and let your spirit be uplifted. Carry the Light is available from cdbaby.com and amazon.com. Very highly recommended!
April 5, 2005