“Clouds” is Ms. Gillan’s newest Freesolo piano album inspired by ever-changing, beautiful clouds—just as they subtly change shape, texture and rhythm, so does her music, constantly flowing with something new, yet familiar. Transposing modes and harmonies constantly, often moving just one note at a time, subtle changes are made- like clouds that take shape across the sky. “I always wanted to create music that was interesting to listen to, relaxing, yet does not have the typical structure of classical, jazz or popular music—something like nature, that is continually moving, re-creating itself,” said Ms. Gillan.
In 1989 when her hands began to give her problems in performing, and they finally collapsed, during a three year process of rehabilitating her hands, she was given a gift. She discovered a style of playing that stimulated her, one note at a time. At that time, she could not read music, write her name or feel her fingers. Thankfully, through grace, hard work and persistence, God gave her the skills back to create this music. “I still have numbness in my fingers and hands so it is joy to be able to continue spreading this special gift. These pieces are impossible for me to re-create as they are captured only through recording.,” says Gillan.
“Clouds” is Ms. Gillan’s third album of Freesolos in this style of using modal progressions; “Watercolors”, has been played all over the world in many settings. “This music is perfect for studying!” says Kristen M. of San Francisco. “I use “Watercolors” when I work on my clients,” said Allison, a massage therapist, “because it helps them to relax!” Artists, writers, teachers, businesses, all use her music for the relaxing yet uplifting mood it often creates. “Impressions” was the first innovative album in this style and “it moves me” says fellow musician Dan Caro of New Orleans.
“Several years ago I had the honor to meet Meggie George, a brilliant and talented vocalist, and encouraged her to join me in this artform, what I have come to call “FreeSolo”. We both come from classical and musical theater training, and write our own music as composers, so we have that in common as performing artists. But to create something new is a real challenge in an art form that has so much structure. Working with Meggie on this new album, required a lot of listening for both of us because we had to not only create the music as we went, harmony, melody and rhythms, but to find each other in patterns and let the music speak for itself. That requires a lot of courage from the artist and “finding the flow”. I find that taking risks by leaving out the traditional chord changes and using modal scales gives me a lot of freedom to create. We hope that you enjoy these pieces and find them relaxing and soothing to the spirit,” says Gillan.
Meggie George has been playing music and singing pretty much since before she was born. She grew up in a family of musicians and artists and was reaching for the piano keys before she could read music.
She studied musical theatre in Munich, Germany at the Bavarian Academy of Performing Arts, Prinzregententheater, receiving a Bachelor’s degree, before heading off to Montreal, Canada to continue her vocal studies as a coloratura soprano under Prof. Lucille Evans, McGilll. She also studied voice under Prof. Donald George of Suny University, Potsdam, New York.
Ms. George worked in theatre and music in Europe and the USA, with roles as diverse as Cinderella in Sondheim’s “Into the Woods” and The Queen of the Night in Mozart’s Magic Flute.
However, she quickly realized that creating her own music and writing was where her true passion lay. So she left the theatre and began the hustling life of the creative, writing shows and music, performing in off-beat, run-down theaters, restaurants, doing the splits on pianos while singing high D’s and improvised on the streets of Nice, France as part of a Red Bull tour, in order to see people’s reactions in real time to what she was doing. She is convinced that this has made her tough.
A few years ago she suffered from writer’s block so she left Europe to see what New Orleans had to offer. This is where she met Rebecca Waller Gillan and their Freesolo collaboration was born. Having a background in classical music, musical theatre, choirs and the all the different styles of music she has sung and worked in had given her a large palette of sound and styles with which she could create from. Meggie continued performing and writing her own music as well as starting new endeavors; making music videos, learning to record her own music and diving into the technical aspects of the creative life.
Ms. George also works with children and teenagers as a vocal coach, piano teacher and choreographer. Teaching a group of teenage children a dance in an hour that they have to perform the next day, is a great way to recognize that often, the best things are created with a huge amount of enthusiasm, and not quite enough time. She also teaches voice lessons to adults. Meggie plays the piano, almost all recorders (including the nose flute) and a few chords on the ukulele.
“Awakening” is the first piece to be released as a single in November 2016. Available at rebeccagillan.com, push the green button nimbit, download at itunes, Amazon and other streaming services.
“Watercolors” is a marvelous collection of freely composed piano solos, each spontaneously inspired and created in the moment. Free composition is Ms. Gillan’s method in which the harmonies are created in the moment along with the melodies. Her style is one of classical melodies floating atop jazz harmonies, 4th voicings, major 7th(+11) that never resolve, and constantly changing key centers. These pieces all have a harmonic structure that constantly changes modality, never feeling a need to return to the original key.
Each piece in “Watercolors” has its inspiration from her travels near a body of water: “Seascapes” reflects a stay in Encinitas, California on the Pacific Ocean; “Moontides” is from a weeklong vacation on Anna Maria Island in Florida; “Cliffside Coves” brings up memories of the Ionian Sea along Isola Bella, Sicily. “Harbor Mist” reminds her of the farthest point in Western Europe, Cabo da Roca, Portugal, where Christopher Columbus set sail so long ago from the tallest cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. “Sailboat Serenade” is a gentle reminder of a summer at Interlochen Music Academy and sailing on Grand Traverse Bay, Michigan. Another favorite vacation spot was Yosemite Falls in Yosemite National Park, California—which inspired the wandering “Water Ballet”.
“Lighthouse Brigade” brings back memories of being a lighthouse keeper with her husband & two daughters, one summer at Big Sable Point Lighthouse on the dunes of Lake Michigan. “Seafoam”, in its 5-4 meter, is reminiscent of the undulating waves near the shore at lowtide during an east-coast family reunion at St. Augustine Beach, Florida. And finally, living so near to the Gulf Coast and its Katrina tragedy of 2005, a bittersweet memory of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi – “Gulf Coast Reflections”.