Fiona Joy Hawkins - Live at the Q - 2011 / Little Hartley Music
In August of this year, I attended the California Audio Show (CAS) held in Emeryville, CA. After signing in at the registration desk, I was handed a Blue Coast Records tote that included Fiona Joy Hawkins' album 600 Years in a Moment and CD Angel Above My Piano. Then, to my surprise, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting in person Australian pianist Fiona Joy Hawkins, who was accompanied by violinist Rebecca Daniel. After a brief introduction, both graciously signed my album and CD, an unexpected pleasure indeed.
This month's music pick, Live at The Q, is for those unfamiliar with Ms. Hawkins' music. By the way, "The Q" is short for the "Q Theatre" in the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre in Penrith (on the outskirts of Sydney) where she's playing a handmade 102 key Australian Stuart & Sons grand piano.
Classically trained, Ms. Hawkins' influences include Chopin, Mendelssohn, and George Winston, to name a few. In addition to being an accomplished composer and pianist, her angelic vocalizations combined with Rebecca Daniel on violin form a magical combination. On this album, Ms. Hawkins is joined by the Blue Dream Ensemble, which consists of Rebecca Daniel on violin, John Napier on cello, Andy Busutti on clarinet, and Dave Ellis on bass.
Those familiar with the Windham Hill sound may already be familiar with Ms. Hawkins' New Age style of music. Still, for others unfamiliar with her sound, Live at the Q is an excellent introduction to the relaxing and intensely emotional music she produces.
The album begins with "View From My Studio," a thoughtful, quiet piece. Most of the songs on this album are live versions of songs from her 2008 album Blue Dream, which was produced by Grammy-winning producer and founder of Windham Hill Records, Will Ackerman. The next track, "Freedom," Ms. Hawkins vocalizations form a beautiful ethereal piece that serves as a fitting introduction to the upbeat "Feeling Sunshine". Both pieces are light and uplifting and gradually lead to the rich and soulful "From the Outside," where the beautiful violin of Rebecca Daniel accompanies Ms. Hawkins' piano. The album closes on a more somber note with "The Void". With this last somewhat darker track, I am left longing for more music. But fortunately, I found the string, vocalization, and other instrumental arrangements on all the other tracks captivating. These tracks take you on a beautiful, almost cinematic musical journey through space and time.
For me, Fiona Joy Hawkins' Live at the Q is a "must have" album for New Age fans, especially those who enjoy the piano works of George Winston, who sadly passed away earlier this year. The confluence of Fiona Joy Hawkins' piano and angelic vocalizations with the stirring sounds of The Blue Dream Ensemble makes for a powerful and memorably relaxing journey everyone should try to experience at least once.
If you'd like to experience more of her music, it's available for purchase and streaming on a variety of platforms. Hi-Res audiophile versions of Ms. Hawkins' albums are available from Blue Coast Records.
Disclaimer: I have no financial interest in any artists or companies mentioned in this article.