Heaven in a Wild Flower
Jewel Lake, Bill Douglas’ first album on the Hearts of Space label, showcased his warm, heart-filling brand of lyricism. “From the opening bars,” wrote a critic for Keyboard, “It’s obvious that Bill Douglas is endowed with a real gift for creating superb, unforgettable melodies.” His subsequent HOS releases, Cantilena (1990) and Kaleidoscope (1993), received similar accolades for a unique combination of flowing, Celtic-inspired melodies enhanced by subtle classical, jazz, and world music influences. He contributed four of the fourteen tracks on Celtic Twilight, Hearts of Space’s 1994-95 bestseller – nearly a third of the album.
On Circle of Moons, the composer reaches a new level of refinement in thirteen enchanting, gently romantic tunes. “Heaven in a Wild Flower”, the opening track, is a choral setting of William Blake poetry and reveals his deep-seated love for the transcendent melodies and sumptuous harmonies of Renaissance sacred music. “This era, especially as it relates to the English choral tradition, is my favorite,” says the artist. “That’s what I listen to for the sheer pleasure of it; pieces by William Byrd, Josquin de Prez and Thomas Tallis really inspire me.” Performed by the Boulder, Colorado-based Ars Nova Singers conducted by Thomas Morgan, the piece brings some of Blake’s most evocative images to life with sublime melodies and emotional harmonies that combine the exultant ideals of the Renaissance with Douglas’ poignant style of modern romanticism. The music creates an overall feeling of ecstacy that echoes through the room long after the vocalists sound their final chord.
Further on in Circle of Moons, the Canadian-born composer again returns to the rich traditions of his Scotch-Irish ancestors. “I’m still very moved by Celtic music – not only its joyousness, but also the poignancy of the melodies.” A host of world class performers on clarinet, English horn, flute, cello and percussion, join Douglas’ dreamy synthesizer textures, eloquent bassoon melodies, and expressive piano lines, which place his orchestrations firmly in the 20th century. Still, the music dissolves the fabric of time, transporting listeners back to a simpler, more innocent era filled with fantastic legends and magical landscapes.