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The Sounding Board by R J Lannan
RJ Lannan is the reviewer for The Sounding Board.
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Sapient: A Cantata of Peace
By Steven Chesne
Label: Brahmasong Records
Released 10/20/2017
Sapient: A Cantata of Peace tracks
1. Invocation to the Infinite (Kikuyu)
2. Words of the Kikuyu-Peace Be with Us
3. Words of the Buddha-Let a Boundless Love for All Beings Grow Inside You
4. Words of Lao Tzu-Weapons are Instruments of Fear
5. Words of Mohammed-Oh God, You are Peace
6. Words of the Kikuyu-May Peace Reign
7. Words of the Jews-Create Peace and Compassion
8. Words of the Hindu-May We Ourselves be Peace
9. Words of the Baha'i-Oneness of Humanity
10. Words of the Buddha-Let Your Love Flow Through the Universe
11. Words of Jesus-Love Your Enemies
12. Words of the Cheyenne-Let Us Know Peace-Pt. 1
13. Words of the Cheyenne-Let Us Know Peace-Pt. 2
14. Words of the Cheyenne-Let Us Know Peace-Pt. 3
15. Words of the Sikhs-Recognize Humanity as One Family
16. Words of Lao Tzu-Victory is a Funeral
17. Words of the Hindu-The Nature of the Divine is Peace
18. Nyansapo-The Wisdom Knot
19. Nyansapo-The Wisdom Knot (Soft Mix)
Sapient: A Cantata of Peace
It is difficult for humanity to pray as one voice. There are almost seven thousand distinct and different languages on our earth. However it is easy for us to pray with one heart. Sapient, the newest release from Steven Chesne is part contemporary opera and part ancient ritual. Today, the entire world is covered in sadness and despair like a blanket of dirty snow. Faith will never play a bigger part in our pursuit of peace than it does right now. Award Winning orchestrator and composer Steven Chesne recognizes the commonality of peace in all faiths. To that end, he has created Sapient: A Cantata of Peace, an album dedicated to the concept of universal prayer. Through poignant, transcendent music he combines the hearts and words of mankind in a reverent collection of positive prayers.

Sapient is unique in its distinctive combination of elements. The potential of words, the comfort of music, and the power of faith. On the cover of Steven Chesne’s offering is the Nyansapo symbol, the "wisdom knot". The Nyansapo tells us that a wise person has the best ability to solve a problem through experience, knowledge, and learning. Chesne suggests that one of the paths to this knowledge can be found in prayer.

The opening track is called Invocation to the Infinite. Offered by the Kikuyu people of Africa it is a polyphonic entreaty of a blessing. This is all that we ask, a blessing. This is followed by Words of the Kikuyu: Peace Be with Us. "May peace reign over earth, peace be with us."

Words of the Buddha: Let a Boundless Love for All Beings Grow Inside You is a beautiful incantation backed up by Chesne's lush orchestration. The prayer rises to the heavens and to me it is entirely deferential. It is a request on behalf of all, so very unselfish, so thoughtful.

Words of Mohammed: Oh God, You Are Peace is an acknowledgment of the power that God is. Úyanga Bold provides the angelic vocal that recalls starry nights when peace descends upon the earth. Thomas Segen provides the voice for the prayer Words of the Jews: Create Peace and Compassion. The echoing voice is pure and evocative, the message as simple as a heartbeat.

I know of no greater burden than hate. Words of Jesus: Love Your Enemies seems a difficult tenet to grasp in the modern world. The enemy may be driven by unknown forces, hate, anger, or politics. The list is endless. There are a thousand reasons to hate your fellow man, but only one reason to love them. That is how the world should work. The sweet, youthful voice of Natalie Shtangrud is a seraphic reminder. Chesne's theme here is lofty, masterful, and passionate.

The three part suite Words of the Cheyenne: Let Us Know Peace is a concept long known, but often forgotten by man. Gentle Native American flute by Steven Rushingwind, sacred words, and chorus unite in a complete experience rather than just a single prayer.

The recording concludes, but it really doesn't end, with two versions of the song Nyansapo: The Wisdom Knot. All the voices join together in a show of unity. Sometimes untying the wisdom knot is a matter of reaching back. Reaching back into one's history, one's experiences, and into one's soul. In this one, music and words drifted into the heavens, all with sincere emotion. There was a depth to the melody, the chorus earnest in deed and heart.

There are very few albums that to compare to the power and potency of Sapient. The only one that comes close in this writer's mind is perhaps Jonathan Elias' The Prayer Cycle. Chesne's work however, is much grander in scope, encompassing more familiarities than what our daily lives generally encounter. Steven's primary instruments in this album are the human voice and the human spirit. He suggests that every man, every woman, every being, yearns for peace and that we have the power within our spiritual grasp to achieve it. Yes, we can pray as one voice. God hears all. Steven Chesne's concept proves we can also pray as one spirit.
Rating: Excellent   Excellent
- reviewed by RJ Lannan on 1/16/2018
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