Kirsten Agresta Copely is an internationally acclaimed harpist, composer and arranger, with a list of credits that reads like the resumé of a rock star. Her music has appeared on major movie soundtracks (Sex and The City 2, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian) and she has performed for millions on network television (Saturday Night Live, Late Show with Jimmy Fallon). She even played for US President Barack Obama at The White House, sharing the stage with Queen Beyoncé herself.
Copely splits her time between New York and Nashville. In the Big Apple she has performed at Carnegie Hall and serves as Principal Harpist with the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra at Lincoln Center. In Music City, Kirsten regularly performs with the Nashville Symphony. And she teaches, holding the title of Associate Professor of Harp at Vanderbilt University Blair School of Music.
Over the last two years Kirsten has recorded and released a string of instrumental New Age covers of Rock and Pop classics. Her versions of songs by Radiohead, REM and Fleetwood Mac count their Spotify streams in the tens of thousands, thanks to coveted high-profile Spotify Editorial playlists. About the only thing Kirsten hadn’t yet accomplished was the release of a full album of her own original music, until now.
“Around the Sun” is Kirsten Agresta Copely’s debut album as a composer. The nine-song instrumental collection features the musician alone with her instrument. From the first spatial, ambient rays of “Daybreak” to the cool, sparse tones of “Winter’s Bone,” the composer takes us on a 365-day journey along the Earth’s orbit. The pieces on “Around the Sun” conjure each season with remarkable beauty and accuracy. We feel the cold of Winter give way to the birth of life in Spring. The ease of Summer slowly fades to Fall, before the ice sets in again.
In the way only a true virtuoso can, Kirsten creates vivid seasonal imagery with only her harp. She has no accompaniment on the record. Although each piece floats in a lush and expansive ambient atmosphere, the effect was accomplished without aid of keyboards or synthesizers of any kind. The gorgeous harmonics and layered undertones which permeate this recording were all created with vintage analog reverbs and delays. I have spent hundreds of hours in recording studios, and I am awestruck by the warm color of sound Kirsten and her team have achieved with such technological simplicity. It is breathtakingly beautiful.
The titles on “Around the Sun” have a bit of creative fun with the record’s seasonal theme. Many make relevant cultural and historical references that span the globe, and the centuries. Spring is represented by the Greek goddess of vegetation on “Persephone Rising”. The Hindu goddess of the sun, “Surya” brings us into Summer.
Elsewhere Copely dips into the literary world. For instance, “Wind Made Moan” is borrowed from early 20th century poet Christina Rossetti, and “The Silver Swan” from 17th century poet and composer Orlando Gibbons. Each title has a similar source; from the writing of Emily Bronte to the paintings of Monet. These ties to history only add to the listening experience.
With or without context, “Around the Sun” is a beautiful record. The album has been submitted to the 63rd Grammy© Awards for Best New Age Album and Classical Original Composition (Winter’s Bone). So keep an ear out for that. In the interim, you can hear Kirsten Agresta Copely on the Deep Indie Chill playlist. And follow the links below to connect with the artist and stay up-to-date on all of her current and future projects.