The Bright Knowledge (Sirenharp, 2008)
This new recording by harpist and pianist Diana Rowan bridges the worlds of old and new. The Bright Knowledge includes delightful solo harp and ensemble material with a medieval, classical and Celtic music sensibility, similar to the work of fellow harpist and vocalist Therese Schroeder-Sheker. At the same time, Diana Rowan ventures in new territory with the addition of contemporary acoustic arrangements and world music explorations. "The title refers to the ancient Irish concept (and many parallels in other cultures) of sudden spiritual illumination and instant gaining of wisdom after being brought into fierce light from a darkened place," says Rowan. "It has also alludes to the passing on of oral history. Both the spiritual quest and the honoring of past knowledge in the midst of necessary change play a huge part in this, my most representative work."
Diana Rowan is joined by violinist Rachel Durling, Gary Hegedus on the tarhu and percussionist Peter Maund. The interaction between harp, violin, tarhu spike fiddle, frame drums and the vocals of Bon Singer, Lily Storm and Erica Leonard create evocative and mournful pieces of immense beauty.
The Bright Knowledge shows Diana Rowan’s interest in the musics of the world: Eastern European, Balkan, Middle Easterm and Sephardic. Born in Ireland, Rowan lived on the East Coast of the United States, in Europe and the Middle East before settling in Berkeley, California. Diana had classical music training in piano and harp. Currently, Rowan collaborates with, among others, her mentor Bon Singer’s vocal ensemble Ya Elah, vocal virtuosa Lily Storm, Hindustani bansuri master Deepak Ram, and rising early music stars San Francisco Renaissance Voices. Diana also maintains a teaching studio while performing and recording frequently. Diana can be heard on many CDs and soundtracks for film and TV.
Diana Rowan’s cherished instrument is the Cithara Nova harp, crafted by luthier John Westling. This harp’s design results in rich bass tones, while light string tension throughout allows pure, clear treble tones. It stands five and a half feet tall.
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