"Passionate yet serene" ~ as described by Solo Piano Publications ~ "setting a mood of quiet yet intense peacefulness." Kathryn Toyama's album, Hope for Harmony, debuted at No.5 on the NAR World Radio Chart in May 2007.As an artist expressing her...
"Passionate yet serene" ~ as described by Solo Piano Publications ~ "setting a mood of quiet yet intense peacefulness." Kathryn Toyama's album, Hope for Harmony, debuted at No.5 on the NAR World Radio Chart in May 2007.As an artist expressing her deepest truths, Kathryn feels that the depth of her reality can only be captured by recording it “in the moment” and preserving each original expression from start to end, just as a live performance would be recorded without any creative alterations or enhancements. She feels that the most honest performance she can give is to keep the integrity of each composition by recording each track without any digital editing. Kathryn composes her music by letting the melodic structure develop intuitively. She says that before the melody can come to her, she must first open her heart, and then her musical expression begins to unfold. In today's wonderful digital era, recording artists are blessed with the liberty to edit and enhance their compositions, but Kathryn feels that it is most important for her to offer the entire truth of her expression.
An impressive and expressive debut! by Solo Piano Publications “Hope For Harmony” is a gorgeous debut from pianist/composer Kathryn Toyama. Gentle, subtle, and very soothing, the eighteen tracks flow from one to the next as a seamless whole yet hold up...
Music Freedom, Honestly by New Age Reporter It is one thing to feel the warmth of the summer sun and write a cheerful tune about it. Many do that. Then there is a whole other source of stimulation. The kind that feels like rancid, hot breath...
An impressive and expressive debut! by Solo Piano Publications “Hope For Harmony” is a gorgeous debut from pianist/composer Kathryn Toyama. Gentle, subtle, and very soothing, the eighteen tracks flow from one to the next as a seamless whole yet hold up beautifully as individual pieces. Most of the music has the spontaneous feeling of improvisation, and much of it is more ambient than melodic, setting a mood of quiet yet intense peacefulness. Several pieces remind me of George Skaroulis’ music that so effortlessly floats on a cloud of sound. The closing track is a duet for piano and guitar, but the others are solo piano. Passionate yet serene, the music follows the path of a spiritual journey that hopes for harmony within each individual and reaches out to global peace through acceptance and tolerant understanding. What a refreshing journey it is!
The opening track, “Hope,” sets a mood of quiet reflection. “Carefree” is more about a blissful nap in a warm sunny spot than jumping for joy, and has a real sparkle about it. “Finding the Way” is a favorite. The rolling chords in the left hand are a leisurely accompaniment to the poignant and passionate right. The minor key in this piece gives it an exotic, bittersweet feeling that is really effective. Beautiful! “Slowly Healing” is cautiously optimistic, but feels very vulnerable - qualities you don’t often hear in music. As the piece progresses, it becomes stronger and then trails off. “True Friends” reflects the joy as well as the confidence and strength that come from true friendships. “The Light” and “Faith” seem to imply a turning point on the spiritual path to strength and inner peace. “Prayer for Peace” is another favorite. Deeply emotional and heartfelt, this short little gem touches the soul. “As Times Change” is reflective and nostalgic, with a strong sense of longing. “Floating on Dreams” is a daydream set to music - warm and gently smiling, wrapped in inner peace. Another beauty! “Spiritual War” is much more turbulent than the other tracks, and overflows with intense passion. Is this an inner struggle or a battle with a loved one with an opposing spirit? Fascinating! “Beyond a Dream” ends the journey with an uplifting duet with Kathryn Toyama on piano and Richard Alan on acoustic guitar, kindred musical spirits that communicate the peace and joy of hope and understanding.
“Hope For Harmony” is a very impressive and expressive first album from a very promising artist, Kathryn Toyama. It is best listened to with full attention, but also provides a quiet and soothing backdrop for massage, relaxation, and reflection. Recommended!
Music Freedom, Honestly by New Age Reporter It is one thing to feel the warmth of the summer sun and write a cheerful tune about it. Many do that. Then there is a whole other source of stimulation. The kind that feels like rancid, hot breath on your face with an explosion of heated words that debase and confuse and the pressure and weight of an angry demon upon your breast.
In order to repair a damaged spirit, Kathryn Toyama writes about the latter on her new album "Hope for Harmony." Her sweet, free-flowing solo piano compositions are part of her healing process and good medicine for any of us with an ailing spirit. As a child, Kathryn avoided the piano. Instead, she turned to dance. Unselfishly, she helped others attain their dreams while ignoring the internal yearnings of her own delicate heart. After a dubious bout with great personal chaos, she turned once again to music to help sort out her life and dreams. This album is the result. There is a lot to be said for achievement.
The haunting opening track "Hope" has a sense of fragility, like the tinkling of clear ice or the ringing of a bell from far away. The music box melody is dulcet and charming. My one observation is that it is a short tune that leaves one with a tiny, but lingering impression of doubt. There is also a feeling of optimism that life will get better.
Understanding Each Other" (and its reprise) has a sensation of equilibrium and of give and take. It is not just an anthem for the meeting of the minds; it is an engagement of the souls. It is the smile you notice when the elevator door suddenly opens and there she is or it is the light you see when you both light the candle. Many who are in love grow past the physical plane and learn that there is a greater pleasure in the "understanding".
One of the sweetest tunes on the album is called "The Light." It is dreamy, pensive song that produces the sound you might hear when you see a hazy orange sunset or witness a bright shooting star. It is also the sound of awareness and the feeling a great discovery.
Floating on Dreams" is about the best cut on "Hope for Harmony." You can put this on a just float away on so many levels. It is a kind of permission if you will to allow yourself to take the flight. Its fluidity is an emollient for the soul and a facilitator of dreams. This became a favorite instantly.
I guess I like dreamy music because the final cut "Beyond a Dream" is remarkable. It features guitar by Richard Alan and it closes the album satisfactorily. The guitar adds a drifting, bluesy kind of pallor to the effervescent tune. The song is one of promise; from the gloomy depths of despair to the rekindling of an internal flame.
Kathryn Toyama goes from the influence of monsters to the inspiration of muses to encourage us all. Kathryn's personal objective is for us to use her music as a medium to find optimism. Her music gives credence that there is hope to be found, no matter what the situation. Her wish is to touch but one heart and let fate do the rest. She has touched mine.
Rating: Good +
Kathryn Toyama – Hope For Harmony (CD) by NeuFutur Magazine While “Hope For Harmony” may be officially the debut for pianist Kathryn Toyama, the eighteen compositions that are present on this disc showcase a talent that far surpasses any other debuting act. “Hope For Harmony” leads off with “Hope”, a track that needs nothing more than a woman playing a piano to bring forth a narrative that will last throughout the whole of “Hope For Harmony”. From the light, airy arrangements that are commonplace during “Hope”, Toyama moves towards a more contemplative and spontaneous feel during “Carefree”. Despite the fact that the arrangements that Toyama places on “Carefree” are immaculate, the title emotion is captured with such accuracy that listeners will be able to identify whole-heartedly with the composition that Toyama lays down.
“The Parting” has a sadder, more emotive approach to it. Despite the fact that the titular event may be a sorrowful one, Toyama has placed a bit of hope at the periphery of this track. This diversity of emotion continues through the penultimate track “Echoes of Healing”, allowing listeners to interpret the tracks on “Hope For Harmony” in a variety of ways. It is these true to life compositions that make “Hope For Harmony” simultaneously the most simple and impressive instrumental album of the year. The overall theme of the album, which has Toyama linking together the titular feeling, thought, or phenomenon with a fitting arrangement, is something that has been done countless times before.
Where Toyama really contributes to the larger corpus of music is this ability to adeptly capture whatever the title may describe. The album is impressive not only because of this fact, but in the cohesion that the 18 compositions on “Hope For Harmony” have. Where a number of acts in all genres of music have attempted to place a similar number of tracks on their releases, the resulting album feels disjointed or is drug down by weak efforts. “Hope For Harmony” bucks this trend may having each track feed well into each other, while each individual track is crafted with a level of attention that is equivalent to classical masters. Grab a copy of “Hope For Harmony” from Toyama directly: a portion of all proceeds raised by the sales of this album will go to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence”. Toyama has a long career ahead of her, and it will be very interesting to see how her compositions evolve over the course of that career.
Top Tracks: Carefree, Faith