Heavy Bell will be performing @ Pressed in Ottawa on February 3rd in support of their new album, By Grand Central Station. The songs for the album were written as a tribute to the 1945 novel, By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept, by Ottawa-born author Elizabeth Smart. The band consists of an 8-piece chamber ensemble (French Horn, Trumpet, Cello, Violin, Double Bass, Piano, Guitar and Percussion). The night will also feature readings by Ottawa’s Kate Hurman and Kristina Watt.
Tickets: $10.00 ADV, $12.00 DOOR
Matt Peters: vocals, piano, guitar
Tom Keenan: vocals, guitar, piano, banjo
Julie Penner: violin, vocals
Alyssa Ramsay: cello, vocals
Natalie Bohrn: double bass, vocals
Aja McMillan: trumpet, vocals
Micajah Sturgess: french horn, vocals
Derek Allard: drums, percussion
Readers: Kate Hurman and Kristina Watt
Heavy Bell is a duo made up of Royal Canoe frontman Matt Peters and actor/singer-songwriter Tom Keenan. Previous projects include the music for the stage productions of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale and Richard II.
By Grand Central Station is a song cycle based on Elizabeth Smart’s novel By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept. Originally published in 1945, the book has been called “one of the half-dozen masterpieces of poetic prose in the world.” It is based on events in Smart’s own life, who as a young woman fell deeply in love with a married man, and contrived to bear his child. The story is told through emotion rather than action: her inner world is enormous, tempestuous. It takes over the world around her and tosses her like a boat on the sea.
This album is a paean to the novel: a song of praise and triumph. We were struck so deeply by its incredible words that we had to set them to music. We chose passages that provide an impressionistic view of the woman’s inner journey; we let the flow of the words dictate the form of the songs, rather than adhering to standard structures.
We arranged the songs for a chamber ensemble in order to reflect Smart’s vibrant humanity, and to express a great range of emotion confined to an intimate space. Whereas the initial composition took only a few days, the scoring took place over the next several years, whenever we found time between Matt’s work with Royal Canoe and Tom’s work as an actor and singer-songwriter.
At the core of the songs are the unison voices of Matt and Tom. Surrounding these are piano, guitar, strings, brass, woodwinds, percussion, and a choir. The performers include members of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Begonia, Chic Gamine, Royal Canoe, Slattern, and Imaginary Cities. Two of the tracks feature Elizabeth Smart herself reading passages from her novel. These were recorded almost forty years after she wrote it: a mature woman embodying the joy and pain of her younger self. Her voice reminds the listener where this music came from.
Raphael Weinroth-Browne (Ottawa)
Cellist and composer Raphael Weinroth-Browne is rapidly making a name for himself as an exceptionally versatile musician in Canada and internationally. With his groundbreaking duo, The Visit, Raphael has toured through Europe and played major festivals such as Wave Gotik Treffen (Leipzig, Germany) and 21C (Toronto). In addition to performing with The Visit and as a solo artist, he is also a member of acclaimed chamber trio Musk Ox and East-meets-West duo Kamancello. Most recently, he joined the Norwegian progressive rock/metal band Leprous for a European headliner tour spanning 18 countries.
Raphael has played on over 70 studio albums. His work as a collaborator and session musician is extensive, ranging from performances with Pauline Oliveros and Ernst Reijseger to studio recordings with Lawrence Gowan (Styx) and Leprous. His inventive cello ensemble and amplified cello arrangements of metal and prog songs have been praised and reposted online by the likes of Opeth, Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree), and Chris Adler (Lamb of God, Megadeth).