While the release of a new album by Halifax-based pianist Jennifer King may be newsworthy in its own right, what makes The Twilight Hour different from most comes from her collaboration with multimedia filmmaker Katrina Westin.
Originally amassing many of the twelve tracks that appear on the album from Light in the Forest, a show King worked on with visual artist Holly Carr in 2019, King knew she had a music collection worthy of a recording.
“Often in the classical music world, when we prepare a program, we might only perform it once or twice, or three times if we’re really lucky,” she says. “I was so happy and excited with the variety of pieces and wanted a record of it.”
And while King admits the album’s title may initially conjure images of vampires, her real inspiration came from the James Joyce poem The Twilight Turns.
“It’s just a beautiful poem that describes a woman sitting at a piano and just playing,” she says. “I knew twilight had all of these connotations with the books and the movies, but I think it is such a beautifully poetic word.”
King also relates the title to when her children were younger and would rustle them to sleep with a storybook while snuggling under a blanket.
To have the album and video come out close to Halloween felt right just because the videos and music have this spooky, quirky feeling to them. – Jennifer King
“These pieces seemed to me like the little stories that I would read to them,” she says. “It had that warm and cozy feel, but always with a bit of adventure or magic and some sort of plot twist. Although there aren’t words to the music, it still has that feeling.”
With several of the pieces having direct references to fairy tales, King saw it as another connection to the memories of reading to her children.
“The whole album has a storyline to it,” she explains. “Each story has a feeling within it, but the whole album has an arc. It starts as if you are just walking, and then it builds in tension to be more lively and then ends with this serene piece by Grieg.”
Having already recorded the music at the First Baptist Church in Halifax with sound engineer Rod Sneddon, King knew she wanted to do something more with the album when the pandemic hit. She then decided to seek out collaborations with other artists she knew were having a hard time as work began to dwindle.
She would eventually reconnect with multimedia filmmaker Katrina Westin, who she had worked with on another musical project.
“I discovered she was also an artist and was going to film school,” says King. “Then I started seeing some of her claymation videos and other really quirky videos she was doing on Instagram and thought the work would so suit this music.”
The result is an eight-minute video with illustrations inspired by the work of Edward Gorey and set to the music on the album.
“It was such a great project to have going on during COVID, especially when we had that terrible tragedy in Portapique,” says King. “And the fact we could do something that was tapping into everybody’s imaginations and offering a little bit of escapism during a time where the whole world is doom and gloom. To have something that is a little uplifting and hopeful has really been wonderful for all of our mental health.”
Excited to share both the album and video with the audiences, King points out The Twilight Hour will also appeal to the younger set. “We never really thought of it as being specifically for children, but it’s definitely an all-ages thing,” she says.
Besides, King says the world needs more art right now. “We also need more people to think about creating and using their imaginations during this time. It’s an excellent healing tool that we all have access to.”
King is taking her creative advice to heart as she embarks on her next project, with a follow-up to her 2018 album O Mistress Moon.
“This will be the Canadian edition with all Canadian music inspired by the night or the planets in the sky,” she says. “The first single will come out in February with singles being released throughout the year and the final album in February 2022 through Leaf Music in Halifax.”
An in-demand soloist and musical collaborator, King holds multiple music degrees. When not in the recording studio or performing, the Nova Scotia Talent Trust award winner works as a private piano instructor and coach. Her first album of night-inspired piano music O Mistress Moon, was nominated for classical recording of the year in 2019 at the East Coast Music Awards and by Music Nova Scotia.
The Twilight Hour will be available for purchase soon and can be pre-ordered as a digital download or CD at bandcamp.com. You can also find more information about Jennifer and her work at jenniferkingpiano.com.