jesus_saves“Jesus Saves: Songs of the Cross” published by Heart Publications is a new collection of contemporary hymns arranged by Kristin Campbell. While a collection of songs about Jesus saving must include the cross, the songs in this solo piano collection are carefully chosen to emphasize the role of the cross in the Christian life. Songs like “Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed” and “Wonderful, Merciful Savior” point the listener and performer directly to the love, act and thought behind Christ’s substitutionary death. Having played Campbell’s piano and choral music many times, I had high expectations for this new collection of songs. Read on to see if “Jesus Saves” met those expectations. Read the rest of this entry »

Church pianists the world over are scrambling and cramming right now, because the holidays are arriving faster than we realize. How do they manage to do that every year?! While I’m getting off pretty easy this year with only two major performances, many pianists are having a hard time finding enough fresh music to play in their cantatas, children’s programs, preludes and postludes, concerts and a myriad of other music-centric events. Piano Animato is here to help you. Escape from the doldrums of hum-drum arrangements that you’ve been playing since 1994 and take a look at what is available in 2014! Read the rest of this entry »

In memory of Tom Craig

Posted: September 18, 2014 in General, Video
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I’d never watched a man die before this year. I’ve seen people killed in various melodramatic ways on TV and in movies. I’ve seen car wrecks where someone may have died. I’ve been to family funerals and seen dead bodies all dressed up so as to not appear dead. But until God gave Tom Craig cancer, I had never closely experienced the process of death. That all changed beginning in June of this year, when Tom, my church’s senior pastor, announced on a Sunday morning that he had stage four pancreatic cancer. (see video below) He was given six months to one year of life to live.  He made it less than three months. Read the rest of this entry »

270199Kenon Renfrow is a name many are familiar with. He’s a popular writer of educational and sacred compositions for Alfred Publishing. I’m reviewing part two of his two-book series from Soundforth (Lorenz) entitled “Sacred Favorites.” Kenon teaches in the piano department of Bob Jones University and has been a pioneer of digital piano performance. This is the first time I’ve played his music, but I am familiar with some of his recordings. I thought I knew what to expect from his arranging, but I was actually surprised by what I found. Read the rest of this entry »

Come Lift Your Hearts“Come Lift Your Hearts” is a Soundforth piano collection from young composer Carly Rawlings. The eight songs included are all well-known, traditional hymns including one Christmas song (“Infant Holy, Infant Lowly”). It’s been a while since I reviewed any piano collections from Soundforth, so I asked their new owner, Lorenz, to send me two more recent publications. The review of the second book (from Kenon Renfrow) will be posted in the next few weeks. For now though, let’s take a look at a new composer to see what she has to offer. Read the rest of this entry »

The AirTurn BT-105 hands-free page turning system.

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Earlier this year, I posted a review of AirTurn’s first hands-free page turning system, the AT-104.  The 104 operated on RF technology to “turn” digital pages on a connected computer or tablet.  AirTurn has now released the BT-105 which uses Bluetooth technology as the model name suggests.  The company has taken an already inconspicuous and useful product and shrunk it down to make it even more appealing.  You’ll find my review of the AT-104 at this link, and I’ll refer to that article for much of the duplicate information.  Continue reading to find out how the BT-105 differs from its predecessor.

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Image  —  Posted: June 25, 2014 in Reviews
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HeirloomGreg Howlett recently made available a new album that’s a bit of a twist on his usual recording material. “Heirloom” is a ten-song album for children. You can get it as just a solo piano version or with nature sounds and ambience added in. It’s clearly designed as a “go-to-sleep” or “rest-time” CD for little ones. All of the songs are very relaxing and quiet in their feel.  I felt a bit conflicted doing a critical review of an album that’s designed for ears thirty years younger than mine, but after listening to the album for the past few weeks, I have some thoughts to share. Read the rest of this entry »

Complete in TheeBob Jones University just released a 13-track album of congregational hymns with orchestral accompaniment entitled “Complete in Thee.” The vocals consist of the 2014 student body, while the instrumentation was overdubbed from studio recordings. There’s a nice variety of hymns included on the album. Classics like Holy, Holy, Holy and Praise to the Lord, The Almighty are right alongside new hymns like In Christ Alone and O God, My Joy. There are a lot of similarities between “Complete in Thee” and “His Robes for Mine” from ChurchWorksMedia, which I just reviewed recently. I’ll draw a few comparisons between these two works, and I’ll also touch on some reasons these types of “congregational recordings” are popping up recently. Read the rest of this entry »

I’m a big fan of NPR and many of the shows that air on there. The human interest programs grab my attention the most. Shows like This American Life, RadioLab, and Re:sound are some of the best-produced shows on air. One of those shows, Radiolab, recently aired a short that got me thinking. Go listen to the episode “Straight outta Chevy Chase” and then continue reading here. Read the rest of this entry »

Seeking wedding music

Posted: April 15, 2014 in General
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Many of you helped me source some arrangements that I needed for a wedding a few years ago. I need your help again for another wedding that I’m playing for at the end of May. I need 30 minutes of prelude music, plus a number of specific songs for during the ceremony. I have possible arrangements for the songs below that are in bold. If you have good “weddingy” arrangements or collections you can recommend for any of the songs (even ones already in bold), please let me know in the comments below with a link if possible. Thanks for all your help. Read the rest of this entry »