Renowned harpist Yolanda Kondonassis has made several popular concept discs for Telarc, which have concentrated on a single theme such as earth (CD-80530, Music of Hovhaness, featuring "Spirit of Trees"), sky (CD-80418, Sky Music) or water (CD-80488, Pictures of the Floating World), but Quietude is the most highly focused album to date. It has been especially created to evoke a mood of calmness and serenity in the listener. "An additional goal of mine," said Kondonassis, "was to find and record music that might stimulate one's inner realm in a way that only seems to happen when the 'everyday' part of the brain begins to quiet down. Many different things can access that inner realm in me," she continued, "but quite often, it's music."
Kondonassis created transcriptions of all the pieces on this recording with the exception of the title work and four other pieces by legendary harpist, composer, and pedagogue, Carlos Salzedo, who is as well-known for his harp transcriptions as he is for his original compositions. Ms. Kondonassis, who studied with Salzedo's protegee, Alice Chalifoux, carries on his tradition of tasteful transcriptions for the harp with her own arrangements of works originally written for the piano by Satie (Gymnopédie No. 1 and Gnossiennes Nos. 1-3); Debussy (Reverie and Sarabande); Chopin (Preludes in E minor, A major, and C minor); Respighi (Notturno from Six Pieces); Mendelssohn (Meditation from Songs without Words); and Sibelius (Berceuse from Pensees Lyriques, No. 5).
It is Kondonassis's hope that the recording may be appreciated not only as a beautiful collection of newly-transcribed pieces, but also as a means to assist the practioners of therapeutic arts such as massage and harp therapy. "I first heard about harp music therapy years ago as a student at The Cleveland Institute of Music," said Kondonassis. "One of my harpist friends had been hired by a local hospital to play in the operating room during bone marrow transplant surgeries. I remember finding the whole idea extraordinary at the time," she continued, "but as I learned more, it began to make a great deal of sense."
The ancient Greeks believed that harp strings resounded in harmony with the nerves and muscles of the body, and that the plucked string released tension through sympathetic resonance. Though the practice of harp therapy actually began in this country in 1923, studies of its effects on the human body are just beginning. But the use of music therapy, and especially harp therapy, is spreading rapidly. In 1997, the National Association of Music Therapy (now the American Music Therapy Association) stated that there were over 5,000 licensed professional music therapists working in more than 2,238 hospitals, clinics, and outpatient settings in the United States. "I applaud the growing community of harp therapy advocates and practitioners," says Kondonassis. "While my performing and teaching schedule prevent me from being a formal harp therapy practitioner, it is my hope that Quietude will contribute some serenity to my listeners' lives."
Christiane Northrup, M.D., author of Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom (Bantam, 1998) and The Wisdom of Menopause (Bantam, 2001) said of this recording, "Quietude is a wonderful collection of music especially chosen and performed by the extraordinary harpist Yolanda Kondonassis. Listen and allow the ancient healing power of the harp to restore, calm, and center you."
This is Kondonassis's eighth album for Telarc. Hailed by The New York Times for her "powerful playing," she is recognized as one of the world's foremost harpists, performing both as concerto soloist and recitalist throughout the United States, Far East, and Europe. Kondonassis's previous Telarc release of music by the late Alan Hovhaness was chosen as one of the Top Twenty CDs of the Year 2000 by Britain's Classic FM Magazine.