music fans are saying that New Age instrumental music is becoming
the classical music of the 21st century. Even though the music world
went through giant upheavals in the 1970s and 1980s, with all that
emphasis on synthesized sounds and electronics, many artists are returning
to a more pure form of acoustic instrumental music and to that list
you could add Tim Neumark. Neumarks calling card is his
meditative and personal approach to solo piano music. Having released
five albums over the past decade, Neumark hits a high note with his
2015 album entitled Galaxy. Subtitled, Solo
Piano, Op. 6., the 50 minute CD features a dozen solo piano
tracks that offers an excellent balance of both memorable melodic
cadences as well as a dynamic, free ranging approach to improvisation.
Clearly one look at the Galaxy cover art and you can see that
Neumarks music is greatly influenced by thoughts of the cosmos
and interplanetary phenomena, which one day, will no doubt be the
norm. In fact, Neumark even calls Galaxy, solo piano
music for the universe. Neumark has cited the most prestigious
classical icons among his musical influences but lets not forget
great jazz piano improvisers like Vince Guaraldi, whose influence,
subliminal or otherwise can be heard on track six here, a beautiful
Neumark original entitled Traveling Music. As a matter
of fact, the entire Galaxy album evokes a number of memorable,
heartfelt piano moods and styles. With Galaxy, Tim Neumark
brings his elegant solo piano music to a whole new level of sonic
mwe3.com presents an interview with
Can you tell us where youre from originally? What are some of
your favorite cities to visit when you have a chance?
I grew up in a small town in western Maryland, Frostburg, and now
I live about an hour east of there, in the greater Washington, DC
area. There are lots of cities I love to visit. Boston, New York,
these are some of my favorites.
mwe3: Your sixth solo CD, released in 2015, is called Galaxy.
What was your musical mission so to speak on Galaxy and how
does it contrast to some of your earlier albums, especially your earlier
album Storm?. I like your subtitle for the Galaxy album
on the back cover: Solo piano music for the universe.
Thats a great way to look at it.
Galaxy and Storm were similar in that they both are
thematic albums, unlike my fourth album Opus Four, which was
really just a collection of songs with no theme. Storm and
Galaxy are different in that Storm was more introspective,
focusing on an individual's tragedy or sad time in life, while Galaxy
is about the universe and its beauty. I always liked the "solo
piano music for the universe" tagline, but you're the first to
comment on it! I really think that the music on Galaxy is my
gift of thankfulness for such an amazing place where we live.
mwe3: What was the writing and recording process like for the
Galaxy CD? How much of your music is written with melodic intent
and how much is written from a more ambient / improvisational
perspective? I guess the approach differs track by track right?
Neumark: For my past three albums,
I've set out a goal to release music as I compose it. Once I get 12
tracks ready, I create an album for those tracks. I've been on a track-a-month
release schedule since about one year before Opus Four was
released in April 2013. I have the somewhat odd habit, as compared
to other composers, of creating titles before writing the music, and
this actually helps me to have a goal when I compose. Storm,
in particular, was an album that told a story in a particular order
I was able to know which titles needed to be composed at any moment
by looking at the title list.
And if I started an improvisation that sounded like something that
could be a song, Id look at the track list and figure out what
needed to be composed, and then Id steer the composition in
that direction. Almost always for me, the title drives the music,
and often the title is based on a mood or an idea. Orbit
and Vast, two of the most popular tracks on Galaxy,
were composed based on the mood that I thought should be expressed
for those titles.
mwe3: Would you consider your music, especially on the most
recent Galaxy album, to be more New Age or classical music
based and/or inspired? In your opinion, what are some of the biggest
differences between classical and New Age instrumental music? Im
beginning to feel like New Age is the classical music of the 21st
Neumark: The genre for the music
composed by solo pianists is often up for debate. If I had written
an entire album that sounded like Vast, I think its
safe to call that New Age, a few of the other pieces are more classical,
or just contemporary piano. I think the biggest difference
between contemporary piano and classical piano is the simplicity of
todays music, and the accessibility of it. I love classical
music, but I dont always have time to sit through brilliant
modulations and variations. Sometimes I just want to listen to something
that is beautiful. I think thats what contemporary piano music
does for people.
mwe3: I heard you were very influenced by the classical composer
Dvorak. What were some of Dvoraks works that inspired you most
and when was his music written? In the liner notes, you write that
the first track on Galaxy, called Preludio, is actually
an arrangement of the first movement of Dvoraks Czech
Dvoraks Symphony No. 9, known as the New World Symphony,
is one of the most popular pieces of classical music today, and it
is rare in that it was a huge success as soon as it was first performed
in 1893. Some composers write initially unpopular works that got famous
later, and some compositions were once famous and now we dont
know them! But his ninth symphony, it has always been popular. Thats
certainly my favorite of his works, but Im constantly finding
little gems that he created that arent as well known.
He was Czech, but he wrote Symphony No. 9 and some other famous
works, while he was the director of the National Conservatory in New
York City. Tying back into my space-themed album, a recording of the
New World Symphony was actually taken to the first moon landing
in 1969. The Czech Suite is written for orchestra and is five
the first movement sounds very welcoming and spacey
to me - I knew I wanted to arrange it as track one for my album.
What about the other big classical composers you mentioned such as
Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky? What works of those composers
stands out for you and how do you feel these icons are different from
the composers of the 21st century? This may seem far-out, but do you
think composers like Dvorak and Beethoven were influenced by the cosmos,
or similar things, that were all influenced by in the 21st century?
I guess they didnt have telescopes and spaceships back then,
but maybe they were thinking of it.
Well clearly Beethovens 9th Symphony stands out among
all pieces, and it is widely regarded as the greatest composition
of all time. I certainly feel that way. Its hard to know how
these composers differ from people today. For one thing, almost every
orchestral composer today gets to hear a piece before it is performed,
since they are composing on a computer and listening to a score as
they compose it. Often, their pieces arent performed at all
but are only played on a computer. I wonder how this technology would
have helped or hurt the famous composers of the 18th and 19th centuries.
Its hard to imagine they were writing on paper and hearing all
the complexities of an orchestra in their head! Im not sure
if any of them were directly influenced by space, but I know Beethoven
thought big. One of my favorite quotes about classical music is Mozart
composed for Saturday. Beethoven composed for eternity.
Where do you see your music fitting in the world of 21st century New
Age music? You have mentioned Yanni and David Lanz as being important
influences. What albums of New Age instrumental music influenced your
music and what about current artists that you might consider your
Honestly I dont try to think about some of those things. I just
try to put music into the world that I think people will enjoy. Thankfully
it seems that they do! I think the first solo piano album I heard
that sounded like something I wanted to do was Skyline Firedance
by David Lanz. I had just never heard something like that on piano.
There are a few other inspirational albums, but that one really opened
and ears as to how music could be accessible to current
There are lots of contemporary artists who I call peers, and almost
all of them I also call friends. Ive met many artists because
our music plays on the same radio stations, and then through social
media sites like Facebook we get to know each other, and eventually
meet and play some concerts together. It would be hard to name a few
without leaving someone out!
mwe3: Where have you brought your music to, in a live setting
and otherwise? Have you done shows in some of the major concert halls
or is that something youd like to do in the future? Speaking
of which, can you say something about that great pic that features
you playing piano in Times Square in NYC? Concentration is everything!
Neumark: Ive played in quite
a few places in the country, but usually in smaller venues like churches,
piano stores, and house concerts. The solo piano genre is an intimate
style of music, and those venues work best. The house concert is really
terrific because theres no separation between performer and
audience. Sometimes those big stages say look Im up here
playing and youre sitting way over there! I prefer the
smaller environments where people can really get to know about the
artists and hear the stories behind the music.
That said, Storm is nominated for Enlightened Piano Radios
album of the year, so Ill be playing in Carnegie Hall in October.
Carnegie, it should be mentioned, is where Dvoraks 9th Symphony
had its premiere. As for the NYC Times Square picture, this was part
of the Play Me Im Yours project that pops up in
major cities from time to time. It was actually quite easy to sit
there and play because I doubt anyone could hear me
barely hear the piano myself!
mwe3: What are your plans for you for the second half of 2015
and into 2016 as far as writing, recording, and possible live shows
and other musical events moving forward?
Neumark: I will be playing in Carnegie
Hall at the Enlightened Piano Radio awards show, and I have a couple
other concerts Im hoping to schedule. Also, Im always
accepting offers to perform in house concerts, so people should contact
me if interested! As for writing and recording, I hope to have a surprise
or two by the end of the year, but I dont have any more details
than that for now.
to Tim Neumark @ www.TimNeumark.com