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Classical 25/06/2019

Ann Sweeten - Before Today, Beyond Tomorrow

Ann Sweeten - Before Today, Beyond Tomorrow

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New York, NY (Top40 Charts) After over two decades of enamoring audiences on the concert stage and on radio/internet airwaves, Steinway artist Ann Sweeten's signature style is recognized world-wide and it can be heard once again on her newest recording, Before Today, Beyond Tomorrow. Often placed in the new age genre, her style is decidedly unique, embracing not only the classical realm, but aspects of jazz, film scoring, and popular music.

Sweeten's music has aired and been reviewed across the world to wide critical acclaim. One of the most decorated pianists of the past decade with albums consistently ranking in the Top 5 NAR and ZMR Radio Charts, Sweeten is also one of the most-played modern instrumentalists in North America. A truly well-rounded individual and artist, Ms. Sweeten is a staunch environmentalist, animal activist and vegetarian. In addition to her concert and recording career, she is also a professional actress/singer/dancer with Actor's Equity Association. Ann Sweeten is herself a Breast Cancer survivor twice over, is involved with the Arts in Healthcare Initiative, and is now battling Leukemia.

Sweeten's journey in the performing arts began at the age of six in both music and ballet in Westfield, NJ. She received a Hammond organ for Christmas that year after showing interest in keyboards and was soon to master it, though the first year she had to stand to reach the pedals. For her ninth Christmas, she received a Baldwin piano and soon began intensive study with Russian-born concert pianist David Sokoloff. Under his tutelage, she learned to play the music of the great masters. She sites Sokoloff as her greatest mentor, whose influence in developing her technique and in encouraging her musicality, was paramount. All during these years, Sweeten was also dancing the classic ballets (Swan Lake, Les Sylphides, Sleeping Beauty) with a regional ballet company in NJ. A Dean's list scholar throughout academia, Sweeten earned a B.A. from Smith College in foreign languages, graduating Cum Laude, and continued study in Paris and later at the Boston Conservatory.

Sweeten did a brief two-year stint as female front and lyricist to the pop/rock band FALLOUT. Then she began appearing on cruise ships, in cabaret clubs and resorts playing and singing a wide range of material including jazz, pop, folk, new age and Broadway music. Sweeten began composing in 1989 in the midst of her musical theatre career, starring in such roles as Aldonza (Man of La Mancha), Sister Amnesia (Nunsense), Miss Mona (Best Little Whorehouse in Texas) and Velma Kelly (Chicago). When she started introducing her own original material to her set lists, the response was overwhelming.

In 1997, Sweeten released her debut album, Prism. By Sweeten's third album, Reflections (2000), her music was selling on listening stations at major record chains (Borders Books & Music, Sam Goody's) weekly by the hundreds. Fans began to write in depth of the effect of Sweeten's music on their lives - speaking of the music as hope, as giving the power of healing or a way of finding peace. She has stated "the fact that my music touches people so strongly is the greatest reward I receive from my music and I have been moved to tears by the personal stories people have shared with me."

Having written well over 100 musical scores to date, Sweeten is also author to all of her albums' liner notes and is a poet in her own right. In 2008, Steinway and Sons welcomed Sweeten into its prestigious international roster of Steinway Artists, touting her, a true Renaissance woman. More information is available at her website (annsweeten dot com). Her albums are available at her website, at her distributor MVD (610-650-8200), and at online sales sites including CdBaby, Amazon and iTunes among others.

Ann Sweeten's newest offering, Before Today, Beyond Tomorrow, is a tour de force of emotion, technical prowess and prodigious composition. The standout guest musicians are Nancy Rumbel (English horn), Eugene Friesen (cello), Charlie Bisharat (violin), Premik Russell Tubbs (soprano saxophone), and 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. The liner notes in entirety are a must read.

In Ann's own words: "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."

The compositions on the album are: "Across the Midnight Sky," "Before Today," "Beyond Tomorrow," "Beyond the Clouds," "The Empty Swing," "Saying Goodbye," "Philadelphia 22," "Vanish," "Lullaby for Blackie Boo," "Through Winter Panes" and "Like Smoke Through a Keyhole."

Will Ackerman, founder Windham Hill Records and co-producer of the album, says this recording demonstrates "the further evolution from a pianist who has always delivered musical brilliance. An artist is often in competition with themselves more than they are with others. A true artist needs to grow. Ann Sweeten has produced 14 CDs in her illustrious career, a number of which I've had the pleasure to work with her on. In Before Today, Beyond Tomorrow, she offers us a broad range of styles while never leaving the core of the talents that we've come to gratefully expect from her. Listening to these pieces together for the first time, I felt the familiarity of her unique sound while being greeted by gentle surprises that, to me, seemed stylistically broader than any of her previous recordings."

Reviewers also have praised Sweeten's musical career. Midwest Record wrote, "Some artists just have that something extra kind of special sauce that puts them in a category all their own and Sweeten is at the head of that instrumental music that hits the target as squarely as possibleā€¦Killer stuff." According to Buzz Music, "Longtime champion pianist, Ann Sweeten has turned out a spectacular list of quality recordings for the past 20 years. Few new agers even stick around two decades much less keep the level of quality that high. Her original compositions are always melodious and interesting and entertaining. An amazing artist who rightly resides at the pinnacle of both new age music but also modern piano performance. If you want the best, have a helping of this."

Magle International Music Forums stated: "Ann Sweeten is an excellent pianist as she has demonstrated time and again on album after album that have consistently risen to the upper echelons of the main new age airplay chart around the world. There have been a whole bunch of solo piano artists on the new age music scene over the past 20 years, but few approach the competency, talent, exquisite touch, melodic sensibilities and verve of Ann Sweeten." A review at World's #1 Music Forum said, "Ann Sweeten is one of the top pianists to emerge in the past 20 years....there have been many new age pianists who have burst forth and gone, but few have come along as talented as Ann Sweeten, who has continued to put out quality original piano material time and again, and those albums have consistently placed in the Top 5 on the International Zone Music Reporter Chart....Ann Sweeten is one of the best piano talents we have. Quality, like cream, rises to the top. Skim off some of this bliss."

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