The Righteous Brothers: Unchained Melody
There are two main reasons why this is my pick. My father used to listen to music from the 40s, 50s and 60s while I was growing up. The voices of The Everly Brothers, Patti Page, Connie Francis, Frank Sinatra, and of course the Righteous Brothers were always in the background at home. And it is also the featured song of the 1990 movie Ghost with the incomparable Whoopi Goldberg and the late great Patrick Swayze. It not only remains to be one of my favourite films, but it just so happens to be the very first English film I saw when I was a child living in Hong Kong. If I ever get married, I think this would probably be the song of my first dance.
Alanis Morissette: Jagged Little Pill
Let’s agree that this is one of the best albums ever written. Period. Musically and poetically. It is another “first” in my early memories. When I immigrated to Canada as a child, this album was introduced to me by my cousin and I’ve loved it ever since. It was the first time I’ve ever heard the f-word being used in popular music. Back when I was 10 or 11, as a child who barely spoke any English … believe me, this was wild! Definitely shared a lot of the same adolescent issues with the young, angst-filled Alanis.
John Estacio: Frobisher / Lillian Alling
Technically these are two separate pieces but both written by one composer, so I’m going to cheat, but for good reason. I was extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to study at the Banff Centre located in the stunning rockies for two summers. Both times I was cast in the operas written by my favourite Canadian composer, John Estacio. He’s not only a brilliant composer but also incredibly funny and I’m so proud to call him a friend. He has the great ability to write contemporary theatre music that is accessible for the audience and the performers. I first realized this during one of the rehearsals of Frobisher where our two lead singers were so overcome by the power of the music, the rehearsal literally paused ... because everyone in the room was so moved and in tears. I also remember standing in the wings listening to the gorgeous finale of Lillian Alling, where I was embraced by my dear colleagues because everyone saw me sobbing hysterically at how beautiful the dramatic music was. Yeah, that’s John Estacio’s music.
Tiziano Ferro: L’amore e’ una cosa semplice
I know, I know. Cheesy, but I don’t care. Trust me, after a long day of rehearsal, all I want is to drown myself in some mindless, feel-good pop music. I so happen to also like artists from outside of North America, and especially Italians like Tiziano and Cesare Cremonini. Ferro might be less known on this side of the world but he’s worked with some heavy hitters such as John Legend, Kelly Rowland, and Mary J. Blige.
Weiss Sonata No. 45 in A Major: Introduzzione & Allegro, performed by Lucas Harris
I SWEAR this is not a sales plug. But I strongly encourage you to give this a listen if you’re not familiar with baroque lute music. It is definitely a great way to introduce yourself to it. The very first time I heard this piece was actually performed live by Tafelmusik’s very own Lucas himself at one of the free faculty concerts at Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute, where I was a student. I remember sitting there, in complete awe, disbelief, and tears, stunned by how absolutely beautiful this piece of music is and how wonderfully and passionately it was played by Lucas. I walked right to him after the concert and told him how much I enjoyed and loved the performance and asked if he had a recording, I would buy the CD in a heartbeat. The next day, he gave me a copy of his CD for free. To this day, whenever I need a moment to myself to relax or meditate, this piece is what I would play.
Song of the day: On Top of the World by Imagine Dragons