keyboardist and composer Kerani is a true renaissance artist
of the early 21st century instrumental music world. Having released
five critically acclaimed albums since 2011, Kerani returns in 2018
with her sixth release, Small Treasures. Theres
plenty of New Age instrumental music that tastefully blends in a European
inspired musical style in the spirit of the iconic composers of centuries
past, and played and recorded with sonic precision and wonderful intention.
Free from electronic keyboards and synth backing, Small Treasures
is mostly a fine showcase for Keranis exquisite grand piano
skills. Small Treasures begins with a track called Temple
Of Roses, a song that features a rare vocal performance from
Chanele McGuinness, who also is featured adding spoken word
poetry on the track Celtic Mystery. With elegant sound
contributions from Arno Op den Camp, Small Treasures also
features a number of guest artists, including flute maestro Ron
Korb and Carla Maffioletti (guitar), along with several
other musicians, with a high point being a full-bodied string quartet.
Enhancing the musical majesty on Small Treasures are Keranis
wonderful paintings, which are reproduced in the CD booklet along
with excerpts from her favorite poetry. Commenting on the album in
her memorable CD booklet liner notes, Kerani notes, This
time, I have chosen to write music that is closer to myself; music
which describes memories and feelings that left an imprint on my heart
forever. An impressive follow-up to her 2017 album Stardust,
2018s Small Treasures is overflowing with wondrous
and majestic instrumental music that will impart an instant sense
of sonic relief to the most seasoned 21st century New Age / Neoclassical
music lover. www.kerani-official.com
a new interview with
Your 2017 album, Stardust had a kind of futuristic feeling
with topics ranging from space exploration to the future. So does
your 2018 album Small Treasures feel more like a trip into
the past? I felt that some of the music on Small Treasures
had karmic impressions about the past and your early years as a younger
person in Belgium and also Hungary. How does the Small Treasures
album relate to your times as a younger person and so, looking back
years ago, was there less of a need to feature more electronic coloring
of the music this time?
Kerani: Small Treasures is a journey into the past in
many ways. There are at least five tracks on this album that take
you back to certain moments in my youth which left emotional imprints
that I have carried with me until this day.
I was born in Brussels, Belgium. I was 6 years old when I visited
Hungary and met my grandparents for the first time. Fields Of
Hungary, for instance, describes my wonderful memories of the
many summer holidays that I used to spend with them as a child. I
will never forget the unconditional love and warmth of my relatives
and how they valued the simple things in life. I didnt feel
the need to add electronic sounds on Small Treasures. This
album was supposed to be more intimate and more basic than Stardust,
which was a sonic explosion. Small Treasures is a collage of
sepia photographs, a collection of precious moments. Adding synths
would have majorly distorted that image.
mwe3: Your paintings adorn the CD booklet which also features
some of your favorite poems, perhaps to add additional colors and
design to your music. Tell us about your paintings in the CD booklet.
What came first in your history, music or painting and are the two
art forms related on the Small Treasures CD?
Kerani: Music came first, but I have always loved visual art,
as well as poetry. During the creation of Small Treasures,
I wanted to bring this love of art to full expression, thereby highlighting
another aspect of myself to my audience.
The different forms of art are all related on this album. Garden
Of Dreams for instance, was inspired by a poem by Bliss Carman,
who lived during the turn of the 19th/20th Century. During the process
of creation, I applied certain musical elements of Claude Debussy
in the song and visual elements of Claude Monet in the painting. Both
men lived in the same period of time as Bliss Carman.
mwe3: Interesting you start off Small Treasures with
a track called Temple Of Roses and the track features
a rare vocal on a Kerani album, even though you have a kind of pop
background yourself. So, how did you meet singer Chanele McGuinness
and, also the song features lyrics by American poet Sara Teasdale
who lived in both the 19th and early 20th century. Sadly Teasdale
committee suicide and died young at 48. What about her poems fascinated
you the most and can you compare Temple Of Roses with
Teasdales other works? Also can you say something about your
new video for Temple Of Roses?
I was raised with classical and Hungarian traditional music. Pop and
electronic were not part of my musical education until 1979 when I
discovered the works of JM Jarre and his peers. Temple
Of Roses started as a concept. I wanted to write a song
with a simple melody, which was to evolve very slowly, unlike many
of my other compositions. I wanted a female vocal to carry the song
in a mysterious, subdued atmosphere. Before anything else I needed
lyrics and, since Im not a lyricist, I had to find inspiration
elsewhere and thats when I found the poetry of Sara Teasdale.
I was immediately taken by her style and the way she was able to set
a solemn, thoughtful mood. My inspiration for the melody came after
the second reading. The tempo of her poems is very melodic. The most
beautiful part of it all is that the song describes how beauty survives
everything, even death.
I happened to find Chaneles name in an Irish music magazine
in which she was featured. When I heard her music on YouTube, I just
knew that her voice would be perfect for Temple Of Roses.
The video was made by my partner Arno Op den Camp and me. Chanele
sent us the footage of her singing and we filmed and assembled the
mwe3: On Fields Of Hungary you revisit your ancestral
country. Its a very karmic sounding track as it has a kind of
Bach-inspired vibe to the melody. Kind of like revisiting somewhere
Is that something that relates to your choosing the Johan
Strauss Orchestra to back you throughout the album and how did you
meet up with Andre Rieu and his orchestra?
Kerani: No one has ever compared my music to Bachs. Thank
you for that! Well, as Arno and I have a recording studio, we often
work with musicians of André Rieus Orchestra. It was
a practical choice to work with them on Small Treasures, really.
But they were delighted to be part of this project. They created the
perfect sound and atmosphere.
mwe3: What else can you tell us about Hungary? How would you
compare living in Holland with life in Hungary? How has Hungary changed
for you over the past decades and how would you compare Hungary with
other Eastern European countries like Poland, Romania and the Czech
Republic? Is the Hungarian culture and language much different from
its neighbors and is Western music, pop, rock, New Age also popular
Being surrounded by Slavic neighbours, Hungary is very much a country
on its own, with its own culture, traditions and its very difficult
language, which is remotely related to Finnish and which has been
declared the most difficult language on earth. Hungarian grammar is
unbelievably difficult as it has far more cases than Latin
and just about everything is conjugated, including the adjectives,
possessive pronouns, adverbs, etc.
Life in Hungary is a little bit slower than in Holland, especially
in the countryside. Mind you, Budapest is a beautiful and vibrant
metropolis, which offers a lot of business opportunities. Arts and
culture come in many shapes and are present all over the city and
beyond. With globalisation at its high, a lot of influences from the
West have found their way to Hungary, including music. New Age is
quite popular too. There are some very fine New Age musicians over
mwe3: Sakura is an interesting track. I was thinking
the traditional Sakura from Japan but this track is a
Kerani original with the same Japanese title. What does the Kusai
poem featured on the page say to you and how did you find this poem
as Kusai dates back to the 1300s? Do you have a following in Japan
as well and have you performed in any of the Asian countries? Also
the track features the great Ron Korb on Japanese flute. Do you feel
with Rons Japanese bloodline he brings an air of authenticity
to that track?
Kerani: Sakura is one of my favourite tracks on
this album. I still dont know how I was able to write this piece.
It just came to me as if by magic. The intriguing aspect of Kusais
poem is that it was written as a renga; a form of Japanese
poetry. You should look at the two verses as separate, and try to
form the mental bridge that connects them:
On an unfamiliar path,
I seek a nearby lodging
Blossoms beckon me,
Maybe I have forgotten
Myself for my heart
With his Japanese background, Ron Korb definitely brought authenticity
to this track. Initially, I was afraid that he would refuse to play
the flute, but Im so grateful that he did! It was a delight
to work with him. Im not sure if I have any significant following
in Japan or the rest of Asia, but thats something definitely
worth looking into in the near future.
mwe3: Irish poet Oscar Wilde is also paid a kind of musical
homage with Fantasy In White. The song has such sadness
reflected in the sparse piano melody. Do the painted flowers represent
something else about Wildes life or career?
Kerani: I will let you in on a secret. Without Fantasy
in White, there would be no Small Treasures, at least
not in this form. Everything started with a painting that I had made
for my daughter Debbie. She was moving apartments and I wanted to
surprise her with some of my art. I started drawing these white fantasy
flowers and when the painting was finished, a friend said that I should
write a song about it. Fantasy In White came to life!
Does Celtic Mystery reflect your love of Celtic and Irish
mythology and lore? You seem particularly fascinated by Irish folk
music and history. Where did you find the Song Of Amhairghin
and are you very interested in Irish music history? Im thinking
some of your music is a kindred spirit to some of Eamonn Karrans
music. Are you friendly with Eamonn?
Kerani: Oh yes, absolutely! I love everything that is Celtic:
the music, mythology, the legends, etc. The Song Of Amhairghin
can be found on the internet; it is part of Irish mythology
and its quite a long story too! Eamonn and I have known each
other since 2011. Hes a friend and a very talented colleague
whose work I truly admire.
mwe3: Garden Of Dreams is one of the highlights
of Small Treasures. It has a very old world melody. As you
say it was partly inspired by your fondness for classical master Debussy,
did you draw on your knowledge of classical masters in composing this
melody? What fascinated you most about poet Bliss Carman? One thing
that amazes me about the Small Treasures album is that its
a virtual history lesson that combines music, art and poetry. How
can you miss with such an expansive concept?
Kerani: As mentioned previously, Garden Of Dreams
was inspired by a poem by Bliss Carman, who lived during the turn
of the 19th / 20th century. In this composition, I applied some musical
elements of Debussy and, in my painting, some visual elements of Claude
Monet. All of this gives a total picture of the 'spirit' of that time.
Its certainly not my intention to teach art history with this
album, but I do wish to paint the 'full picture' of the musical pieces,
if you understand what I mean. Its like serving a four-course
meal with the knowledge that everyone has tasted and liked all the
dishes and will leave the table with a feeling of satisfaction.
mwe3: Track seven Where The Heart Belongs was written
by you when you were just 14. Its amazing that you remembered
the melody and everything. Did you always plan on recording it at
some point and is Small Treasures the perfect way for you to
revisit it? Its amazing that you dedicate the track to your
ancestors. What do you find most amazing about your ancestry and were
there musicians in your family tree?
Kerani: I was too young to make any concrete plans at that
age, but somehow I have always felt that one day in the future, I
may record the pieces that I wrote back then. Ancestry and heritage
are much more important than we think. Without our ancestors, we would
not be here. It's thanks to their will to live, their strength and
endurance that you and I are alive. Their blood runs in our veins
and their history is encoded in our DNA.
I have been investigating my ancestry for a few years now and Im
starting to get a better picture of their fascinating stories. A large
number of my Hungarian ancestors emigrated well before and around
the year 1900 to Germany and Sweden. I have even found close relatives,
second cousins in the U.S., who Im regularly in touch with.
I dont know whether there are any musicians among them! Knowing
the past does give me a better understanding of who I am. It explains
why do things or act in a certain way.
mwe3: Echo Of Our Souls is inspired by the poet
Kahlil Gibran. What interested you most about Gibran and does the
music on this track relate some of Gibrans work? The song is
another great track and is one of the centerpiece tracks on Small
Treasures. Also what can you add your painting with the red flowers
adorns both Where The Heart Belongs and Echo Of
Our Souls? Does this track have a kind of Vangelis sound? Its
very majestic sounding. How did you meet and bring guitarist Carla
Maffioletti into the recording?
Kerani: Gibran was someone who contemplated life in an extraordinary
fashion and possessed the rare talent of finding the right words to
express his thoughts and feelings. Echo Of Our Souls is
about two souls searching for each other. When they finally meet,
they discover how similar they are and also how much they missed each
other, although they had never met before. Its as if they heard
the echo of each others souls through space and time. This excerpt
of A Lovers Call evokes this theme perfectly:
are you now, my other self?
Are you awake in the silence of the night?
Let the clean breeze convey
to you my hearts every beat and affection.
The red poppies in my painting are being blown away by the wind. They
symbolise the human souls which are being carried towards their destiny.
Echo Of Our Souls somehow reminds people of Vangelis
sound. Maybe its because of its majestic build-up and climax.
We have known Carla Maffioletti for many years. Shes a coloratura
soprano by training and she used to be André Rieus star
singer before she left for the Luzern Opera in Switzerland. She is
also a very skilled classical guitarist. Her rendering of Echo
Of Our Souls is really beautiful.
mwe3: To The Heavens was actually inspired by a
poem written by your mother. You say you discovered the poems your
mom wrote after she passed away in 2015. Did you know she wrote poetry?
What else can you tell us about your mother as she came from Germany
and did she encourage your musical career. You mention the Hungarian
language title for the poem at the bottom of the page. Does it translate
to the English title?
Kerani: Yes, I knew that my mother wrote poetry, but I never
really paid attention to the real significance of her poems when I
was young. She was born in Hungary to a German family of successful
entrepreneurs; her mother tongue was German. During the Russian invasion,
she left everything behind and fled to the West with only a small
suitcase. She ended up in Belgium where she rebuilt her life from
scratch. I can only imagine how difficult that must have been! But
she was intelligent and very brave.
She was always proud of my musical abilities, but she never really
encouraged me to pursue a musical career. That has always been a personal
aspiration. The original Hungarian title of her poem is: The
Skyscraping Poplars. I decided to call the song To The
mwe3: Reflections Of The Heart is actually a newly
re-orchestrated piece of music that you wrote for your first album.
Was the original piece really 27 minutes long and why did you choose
to revisit this melody and track at this time? Its a brilliant
and very reflective way to end the Small Treasures album as
it has a vibe of watching and waiting for life to unfold as time progresses
and its a good way to end fear of life as you say in your original
notes. Do you draw upon music as a way to deal with the stresses in
your own life? Watching and waiting, listening to the silence
tell us more insights into how you regenerate your creative flows
while also dealing with the fears of life? Either way, the track is
gorgeous and, also to note, its also the longest track on Small
Kerani: My first album Wings Of Comfort (2011) was
commissioned by a small Dutch New Age record label. They asked me
to write music for yoga and meditation. I filled the CD with 3 long
pieces, each of which were between 20 and 27 minutes long. I have
always liked Reflections, so I decided to pick out the
most beautiful part of this track and re-orchestrate it. Im
happy I did!
Fortunately, I no longer experience significant moments of stress
in my life. But when I do, then I find that music is a very good source
for healing and calming down my nerves. Over the years, I have also
learned to create my own moments of silence in which I can re-center
and re-align my thoughts. This way, I can also deal with possible
fears, one of which is not being able to create new original music.
But this fear dissipates each time I sit at my piano or keyboard.
You have released a series of great albums so far. Do you feel the
desire to get your finest music out in the future? Are you still fascinated
by musical themes like space, and now with Small Treasures, the
past and its impressions from our childhood and youth? Seems like
with your active imagination and musical expertise, the sky is the
Kerani: There are so many fascinating subjects that I could
write music about. I am investigating a few possible and exciting
paths at this moment, but no decision has been made yet. I will announce
any new project in due course. People know where to find me. I am
and I also have a brand new, beautiful website
that they can visit.