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Before Today, Beyond Tomorrow

Released: 2019

$13.00$16.00

Available as a physical CD or digital download. The digital download comes complete with the album’s liner notes.

“Sweeten has vanquished cancer twice and now is faced with a third go round. With the spirit she imbues her new age/contemporary instrumental piano playing with and the friends that are gathered here around her, you can hear and feel why this is the kind of set that could reignite new age back into the mainstream, this is the kind of quality music that Duke Ellington would refuse to label. Simply as good as it gets.”

Midwest Record

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Tracks

1.  Across the Midnight Sky

2.  Before Today, Beyond Tomorrow
3.  Beyond the Clouds
4. The Empty Swing
5.  Saying Goodbye
6.  Philadelphia 22
7.  Vanish
8.  Lullaby for Blackie Boo
9.  Through Winter Panes
10.  Like Smoke Through a Keyhole

Ann Sweeten’s newest offering, Before Today, Beyond Tomorrow, is a tour de force of emotion, technical prowess and prodigious compositionStandout guest musicians include:   Nancy Rumbel (English Horn), Eugene Friesen (Cello), Charlie Bisharat (Violin), Premik Russell Tubbs (Soprano Saxophone), Trisha Craig (Flute).   During the album’s conception Ann was diagnosed with Leukemia. Before Today, Beyond Tomorrow refers to the time before diagnosis, and then to the horizon, beyond the immediate, with hope for the future.

MVD
Album Notes (continued)

The notes that follow are from something I wrote on May third of 2017, just a few weeks after my diagnosis of Leukemia. I was sitting quietly in the late afternoon sun, a cool Spring Breeze ruffling the budding trees, tears dripping down my face (wishing for oblivion). The words written at that time, will now introduce my newest album Before Today, Beyond Tomorrow, referring to the time before my diagnosis, and then, looking ahead and beyond the immediate with hope for the future.

“For those of you who have followed my career and read my CDs’ liner notes, you will already know that I have had Breast Cancer twice before and a plethora of related surgeries for Reconstruction. To receive a third cancer diagnosis is almost beyond what I can bear or even comprehend the likelihood.

This album began with a few compositions: Vanish, which refers to the vanishing ice in the Arctic and the accompanying vanishing species due to climate change, and Through Winter Panes, brought to life in my usual way; then I lost my beloved Blackie Boo and another was created. The pieces that followed were largely extensions or reactions to the emotional roller coaster of the weeks of blood tests, the simply not knowing for weeks on end, hearing the word “oncology” again and then hearing the word “Leukemia” – finally wondering how many years I had left. Through research, better comprehension and a second opinion, I found I do have a good prognosis as long as I tolerate the drugs that are used to treat it. There is no cure for this and no Doctor knows why it happens to some and not to others. Diet or Family history do not play a role, just some damn bit of rotten luck, though I have my suspicions.

Beyond the Clouds, Like Smoke thru a Keyhole, The Empty Swing, and Philadelphia 22 (the chromosome responsible for my Leukemia) are markers on my journey of fear, hopelessness, anger, acceptance and then the resolution to fight for survival. Another piece was written for my dear little Shiloh who passed the day after Christmas 2017, which brought me to another level of despair. The two that followed, the title track and Across the Midnight Sky are more a testament to hope and resiliency.

To those who read this, please do not feel sorry for me, but rather cheer me on, for if the “why” in ‘why have I gotten cancer 3 times?’ cannot be answered, then the fact that I still survive, may be answer enough. I submit that despite odds against me in a world we no longer understand, there are forces at work to keep me here, to keep giving my music to the world.

I have never needed a wake-up call in life thru diagnosis or event, as I have always felt so very present and awake, but this third diagnosis has dropped me to my knees and in a way I can’t explain, the world is different, my life is different, my reactions are different, my patience is greater, my capacity for forgiveness as well. Life itself seems so fragile that I hold it like a wounded bird, so that it may grow well within my care and fly free again, carrying music on its wing.

In light of all this, I urge you to take the time to hear the birdsong in quiet April walks in the woods, to feel the sun in a sparkling sapphire sky with a salty brine in the air while sea ebbs and flows and you walk ALIVE, not alone, with a dog running free at your feet; to taste the truth of life in an intimate embrace, to delight, in the crunch of leaves beneath your shoes in Autumn’s lusty haze, in the swirling magic of December snow, and in the majesty of Earth reborn in Spring, to be grateful for all that graces your day in the smallest of creatures and in the smallest of gestures, for the stars in the midnight fields, and for Love wherever it may appear. I carry on!”

Ann Sweeten


Goodbye Blackie Boo ( 1/17/96 – 11/11/16)

Since your loving Soul
Took Wing on Friday night,
I hear and feel you every place,
And long to hold you tight.

To look into your eyes,
And kiss your little face,
Is now, but in my Memory,
One, Time, will not erase.

Little Shadow, I turned and you were there,
Now in Heaven’s star- clad clover,
Within my heart,   Hence, Everywhere.
I’ll miss you forever, till I see you again…..

A.S.


Shiloh
(May 2002 – 12/26/17)

When did the sun begin to set? When did Autumn’s face appear?
When did unbridled days of youth ebb in the passing year?

So fast, so smart, so dear, your angelic face now white
With the brushstroke of age and God’s most holy light.

Our sentinel ‘ere present protecting those she loved,
At the gate, atop a stair or window high above.

She saw the world in many ways and even loved to watch TV.
Nothing missed her soulful gaze but Animal planet was best to see!

My Little graced the earth as floating on the air,
Now she runs amidst the clouds in climes forever fair.

A thousand words were spoken in silent moments sweet;
My Shiloh swaddled in my arms, no beauty more replete.

Your gentle eyes of brown locked upon mine, blue,
Speaking a tender dialogue awash in love’s forever hue.

Wings of light will carry you, my love will guide your way.
And in my heart I know, we’ll hold hands again, some day.
A.S.

Credits
Performances

In Order of Appearance

Ann Sweeten
Steinway Baby Grand, Model B
Kawai K5000 Synthesizer              Across the Midnight Sky
Kurzweil 2500XS Synthesizer        Beyond the Clouds

Nancy Rumbel
English Horn       Across the Midnight Sky
Before Today, Beyond Tomorrow
The Empty Swing             Philadelphia 22

Eugene Friesen
Cello      Before Today, Beyond Tomorrow
Philadelphia 22                Vanish

Charlie Bisharat
Violin     The Empty Swing
Philadelphia 22                                Lullaby for Blackie Boo

Premik Russell Tubbs
Soprano Saxophone
Saying Goodbye                              Through Winter Panes

Trisha Craig
Flute      Like Smoke Through a Keyhole

Composed and performed by Ann Sweeten
www.annsweeten.com

All tracks produced by Ann Sweeten except as noted below:
Piano tracks produced by Ann Sweeten, Will Ackerman and Tom Eaton
Charlie Bisharat’s Violin tracks produced by Will Ackerman and Ann Sweeten
Premik’s Soprano Saxophone tracks produced by Will Ackerman

All performances engineered by Tom Eaton except as noted below in parentheses:
Piano performances by Ann Sweeten recorded at Imaginary Road Studios, Windham County, VT
Synthesizer performances by Ann Sweeten recorded at Universal Noise Storage, Newburyport, MA
Performances by Charlie Bisharat recorded at The Village Studios, Los Angeles,  CA (Jeff Gartenbaum)
Performances by Nancy Rumbel recorded at Water Garden Studios, Bellevue, WA (Nancy Rumbel)
Performances by Premik recorded at Threshold Recording Studios, New York, NY (James Walsh)
Performance by Trish Craig recorded at Universal Noise Storage, Newburyport, MA
Performances by Eugene Friesen recorded at Universal Noise Storage, Newburyport, MA

Engineered, mixed and mastered by Tom Eaton at Imaginary Road Studios
www.thomaseaton.com

Visual Artistic Direction and Photography by Randy Yoder
RBY Photography, Salem, MA

Piano Technician:  William Ballard

Reviews

“The Further Evolution from a pianist who has always delivered musical brilliance.”

-Will Ackerman (Founder, Windham Hill Records)

 


 

“A small instrumental ensemble with piano offers a nearly unlimited range of textures, sounds, and melodic range. Sweeten takes full advantage of her talented musical guests, but it’s clear when listening that her passions and emotions are the engine driving the music. The depth of heart and soul invested into these songs is pretty mind-blowing, but it wouldn’t be nearly as powerful if the music wasn’t fully supported by top-notch skill and musicianship. Exceptional music, light years above and beyond other neo-classic genre productions.”

-Elizabeth Hazel, Facing North

 


 

“Sweeten has vanquished cancer twice and now is faced with a third go round.  With the spirit she imbues her new age/contemporary instrumental piano playing with and the friends that are gathered here around her, you can hear and feel why this is the kind of set that could reignite new age back into the mainstream, this is the kind of quality music that Duke Ellington would refuse to label.  Simply as good as it gets.”

-Midwest Record

 


 

“With a team of consummate professionals behind her, Ann Sweeten has pulled off a masterstroke of an album, one that will stir your emotions, that will leave you deeply moved, that will inspire you as well perhaps, but hopefully one that will leave you, in total gratitude of this most precious of things that we are blessed with, life.

Before Today, Beyond Tomorrow in my view is Sweeten’s best work so far, it challenged me to give myself to the moment and the music and at the end I had found an element of healing within its tones. This is an album created by an artist who clearly is in touch with her musical muse, the performances within are pristine, beautiful and emotive, and is an album that if you wish to add something of total quality to your collections, you simply must have at all costs.”

– Steve Sheppard, One World Music

 


 

“New Age pianist Ann Sweeten’s album Before Today, Beyond Tomorrow, has been described as ‘a tour de force’ of emotion, technical prowess and prodigious composition. Ann surrounded herself with guest musicians: Nancy Rumbel (English horn), Eugene Friesen (cello), Charlie Bisharat (violin), Premik Russell Tubbs (soprano saxophone), and Trisha Craig (flute). The music on this album was created while enduring the effects of a third cancer diagnosis. In her own words, Ann explains, ‘The world is different, my life is different, my reactions are different, my patience is greater, my capacity for forgiveness as well. Life itself seems so fragile that I hold it like a wounded bird, so that it may grow well within my care and fly free again, carrying music on its wing.’ The result, an emotional roller coaster of ten cuts, including two with hope and resiliency built in, ‘Across the Midnight Sky’ and the title track ‘Before Today, Beyond Tomorrow,’ marking her journey of survival with the mood magic of ‘Beyond the Clouds,’ ‘Like Smoke Through a Keyhole,’ ‘The Empty Swing’ and ‘Philadelphia 22.’ Just a sampling of the excellent music Sweeten created, and her valiant battle for survival.”

– Bob Morello, Boston Post-Gazette

 


 

“Ann Sweeten has a story to tell. This incredible woman and musician has suffered through 3 bouts of cancer. I found her words inspirational. She does not want anyone to feel sorry for her, she wants positive support and for people to stop and smell the roses of life that abound all around us.

“I covered the 2016 release Where Butterflies Dance and in 2014 Tapestries of Time So now I am ready for the latest offering Before Today, Beyond Tomorrow.
Before Today, Beyond Tomorrow is her story set to music. Words are not necessary with such talent at the keys. The eloquence and beauty of piano instrumental music reach new heights for the artist on this release. With everything going on in her personal life she has found the energy and inner spirit to push herself beyond any physical limitations and turn into something positive and wonderful.

“The title track is a gorgeous heartfelt melody flowing like a stream of rhythmic in-sync spirituality. In other words, Ann becomes one with the music and the end result is extraordinary. ‘Philadelphia 22’ is so emotional and full of the grace of the heavens. The power of her rolling piano passages finds its foundation in classical but the soul of the track is all Ann. The addition of the cello, English Horn, and violin give the tracks another layer that brings an additional emotive element and that classical sensibility.

“There is sadness in the music however her piano brings out the joy and positive vibes that are within her and it will heal not only the artist but everyone that hears it. That is the beauty of this music. The story behind it all is incredibly real and it will touch many lives.

Before Today, Beyond Tomorrow will leave an indelible mark upon your soul. After reading about her tribulations, the music took on a stronger significance. Just knowing what Ann has been through, her great attitude and the messages she delivers in the music, it would give anyone pause. I heard the birds chirping last night and looked at my wife and said ‘Hear them chirping? They sound so happy.’ That is the purity of nature and all the sounds, smells, and colors that are all around us. I am so grateful for that kind of awareness and the gift of this music, that heals and takes me to another level of reality.

“This kind of instrumental music envelops you in a cocoon of tranquility that cannot be retrieved during a normal busy day. This surely is music made for those seeking healing that goes beyond words.”

-Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck, New Age Music Reviews

 


 

“Decidedly unique piano beauty Ann Sweeten – BEFORE TODAY, BEYOND TOMORROW:  I have been reviewing Ann’s enchanting piano work for many, MANY years now and can honestly say that her new release is the most emotionally engaging keyboard adventure I have listened to in 2019… she put this together after a third cancer diagnosis (Leukemia), yet still is able to convey a sincere hope for the future…

“In addition to Ann’s marvelous keyboards, you will hear Nancy Rumbel doing English horn; Eugene Friesen on Cello; Charlie Bisharat’s Violin, Premik Russell Tubbs playing Soprano sax and Trisha Craig on Flute… compositions like ‘Vanish‘ (which mourn our – mutual – loss of the Arctic ice & so many species) will bring a tear to your eye, I’ve no doubt… a totally engaging and emotional tune!

One of the quotes from Ann in the liner notes that struck me with absolute power is – ‘I submit that despite odds against me in a world we no longer understand, there are forces at work to keep me here, to keep giving my music to the world‘… as you listen to the opener, ‘Across The Midnight Sky‘, you will hear why I found that comment so striking… despite hardships and knee-bending blows in life, our friend Ann’s piano brings hope to those who need it.

“Of the ten sonic wonders Ann offers up for your enjoyment and enlightenment, it is ‘The Empty Swing‘ that gets my vote for personal favorite… it’s only 4:26, but will give you clear images of how (and why) Ann created the beautiful song! Most Highly Recommended.”

-Dick Metcalf, Contemporary Fusion Reviews

 


Positive, Warm, Relaxing, Empowering New Music from Pianist Ann Sweeten
“Ann Sweeten is an outstanding new age musician who has given us 14 albums over a two-decade-plus career, and each one has been a treasure. Her newest outing is Before Today, Beyond Tomorrow, once again co-produced by noteworthy new age legend Will Ackerman, and featuring musical guests that include new age luminaries such as Nancy Rumbel on English horn and Eugene Friesen on cello and Charlie Bisharat on violin.

“Sweeten is a pianist (a Steinway artist) and composer who knows exactly what the new age music audience wants, and she gives it to them. This is beautiful music that is relaxing and soothing, balm for your soul.

“I love her song title imagery: ‘Beyond the Clouds’ (one of two tunes where she accompanies herself on synth), ‘The Empty Swing’ (great back-and-forth with the English horn and violin) and ‘Like Smoke Through a Keyhole’ (the only track with a flute).

“This music is beyond heartfelt. The notes seem to come from somewhere deep down inside of Ann Sweeten, and fortunately for us, she lets them out into our world. Each note is like a sip of herbal tea or a vitamin supplement adding warm feelings, positive reinforcement and resolute strength to our lives. Thank you, Ann.”

–Magle International Music Forums

 


PIANIST ANN SWEETEN GIVES THE WORLD ONE MUSICAL GIFT AFTER ANOTHER


“Pianist Ann Sweeten has been putting out albums for the past 22 years (mostly ensemble recordings, but with the occasional solo piano pieces), and each one has been memorable. She has become a new age music stalwart, a beloved composer and performer who can be counted on to always deliver the goods. Her melodies are always terrific, even if they don’t always follow a strictly pop or even classical pattern. They simply work. They make you feel. She has a real love for nature and especially animals, and that feeling often comes through.

“Her latest album is titled BEFORE TODAY, BEYOND TOMORROW and is influenced by her fight with several types of cancer.  But the music she makes is not a downer, but is all positive, just like her attitude toward life. She looks at every day as a gift to her and she turns those feelings into music that she passes along as one gift after another to us.

“Her piano playing is great and is augmented with special guest musicians Nancy Rumbel (English horn), Eugene Friesen (cello), Charlie Bisharat (violin), Premik Russell Tubbs (soprano saxophone), and Trisha Craig (flute). These are top level musicians. Their interplay with Sweeten’s piano is right on the money and quite moving, especially the piano-English horn duets and the piano-cello interaction.

“This is delicate, emotional, relaxed music from a remarkable lady and her friends. Seek it out online and take a listen. It’s a keeper.”

-Buzz Music

 


 

“…After  fourteen solo albums featuring her harmonious blend of instrumental piano magic, Ann Sweeten is truly a piano heroine to take note of.  A mix of meditative emotions, superb piano technique and smart composition, Before Today, Beyond Tomorrow features several esteemed artists backing up Ms. Sweeten’s piano visions, including Nancy Rumbel (English Horn), Eugene Friesen (Cello) and more.  For those suffering or in pain due to life’s many tribulations, Ann Sweeten’s latest piano masterpiece, Before Today, Beyond Tomorrow is a worthy sonic elixir.”

-Music Web Express

 


 

“Possessed of one of the most recognizable “voices” in piano music today, Ann Sweeten always finds a way to never repeat herself.  Her characteristic flowing melodies, accented here by guest artists, e.g. Nancy Rumbel and Eugene Friesen, manage the difficult task of merging fond remembrance and subtle sorrow, both imbibed with deep, rich romanticism.  This album, though, is a product of unimaginable personal tragedy, as Sweeten recently received her third cancer diagnosis (this time for leukemia).  Throw in the loss of two of her beloved dogs in the same recent time period (all this documented in her, as usual, personal liner notes) and one must stand in wonder at her strength of will as well as her talent.”

 

-Bill Binkelman – Retailing Insight Magazine