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Russell SueretElectronic-keyboardist Russell Suereth promotes universal spirituality with his heartfelt original instrumental music that blends new age sounds and world-fusion rhythms as heard on his third album, Spiritual Haven

“I believe people all over the world need spiritual havens,” explains Suereth.  “Of course some people find this in physical places such as churches, temples or sacred sites, but with the right mind-set it can also be in a car, on a couch, in your home or in an office.  The most important aspect is that people from all nationalities, cultures and countries can find a sense of spirituality within themselves and feel safe to go there.  Religion and belief in a Higher Power is a matter of personal choice, but spiritual meditation is universal and can also encompass a person’s own spirit as well as nature and the world around us.  I believe music can help people connect to their own spirituality, which, in turn, can contribute to a healthier lifestyle and a fuller sense of well-being.”

More information on Russell Suereth (pronounced sue-reth) is available at his website (www.RussellSuereth.com).  Spiritual Haven -- and his two earlier recordings on Haven Tone Records, Small Steps and Going Down the Highway -- are available as digital-download albums (and individual download tracks) at online sales sites such as CD Baby, Amazon, iTunes, eMusic, Rhapsody and many others.

Suereth also is the creator of Music of Spiritual Places, a video series that focuses on spiritual places around the globe with his music serving as the soundtrack to the images.  These short videos are often about 45-seconds long and serve as a respite and haven for viewers to turn to during their busy or stress-filled day.  Some of the series images include the Mainri Snow Mountain Range in China where the highest peak is a sacred site for Tibetan Buddhists, the Siam Cultural Park in Thailand, the Santa Maria Church in the Spanish town of Wamba, and a terraced mountainside in the Incan Sacred Valley in Peru.  The series, which has new videos added on a regular basis, can be found at the video channel www.youtube.com/user/rsuereth/featured or accessed from Suereth’s website (which also is titled Music of Spiritual Places).  In addition, Suereth’s site showcases regular song-length music videos for select tracks from the Spiritual Haven album.

“I find music and visual imagery inextricably linked,” says Suereth.  “So often music calls up images in our minds, and scenic sites can be enhanced when music is heard at the same time.  There are many places in the world that have special meaning to human beings.  The wonderment of those places can be connected to music, both that played long ago as well as contemporary melodies inspired by those sites.”

Suereth’s music is an interesting combination of sounds.  The basis for much of the music are the sounds of Western acoustic instruments -- piano, oboe, bassoon, guitar, viola, cello and French horn.  These are augmented by a variety of traditional ancient instrumentation from around the world -- duduk (a double-reed woodwind-flute that originated in Armenia), guzheng (a Chinese plucked zither), grand marimba (a low-pitched xylophone that originated in Africa but was developed in Latin America), koto (a Japanese zither with movable bridges), oud (a Mideast lute with a short neck), krin (A West African idiophone log drum) and ethnic frame drums (animal-skin hand-drums from the native tribes of the Americas).  Suereth brings his sound into the contemporary realm with the addition of some modern sounds -- the hang drum (looking like a dented flying saucer it is both a melodic and rhythmic instrument) and synthesizer.  Suereth’s music is most characterized by the woodwind melodies and his unusual rhythmic patterns that sound Mideastern one moment and Pacific Rim-oriented the next.

The Spiritual Haven album begins with the highly-rhythmic “A Magic Flight” (“certain music makes you feel like you are soaring and flying so I wanted to capture that feeling”).  “Distant Voices” and “The Village Breathes” both evoke primitive remote places with all the sounds of that community going about the business of lives being lived.  “Swirling Spice” captures the smells, sounds, motions and multi-colored sights of a Mid-East bazaar.  “Night Dances” reflects “all the movement that happens after dusk -- people dancing, animals stirring, a variety of nighttime sounds.”  Other tunes focus on nature -- “Nightingale Rushes” (“those birds sing the most amazing songs”), “Red Moon Calling” (“the Earth and all its inhabitants have such a close physical and spiritual connection to the moon, but ancient peoples recognized it more than we do”) and “Red Moon Rising” (“a rising moon on a clear night looks enormous and it is an impressive and magnificent event”).

Some of the compositions are about circumstances that people go through.  “‘Glimmer of Light’ reflects those times when a person has a problem or a difficult situation, and they turn to spirituality and then see a solution or at least hope up ahead,” states Suereth.  “For ‘Notions Astir’ I pictured sitting on a mountaintop watching the sun rise up through the clouds below while the majesty of it inspires new ideas.”  “Sudden Awareness” was inspired by “one those life situations of enlightenment which buoys you up and gives you feelings of happiness or contentment.”  Similarly, the tune “Realization” is “another moment of illumination that sweeps away worries and takes you to a beautiful existence.”

Suereth has always enjoyed music.  When he was nine he started four years of guitar lessons, formed a garage band and began writing music for the first time.  He has played guitar ever since, but about a decade ago he became more serious about it and for several years practiced several hours daily.

Suereth began listening intently to new age music in the Eighties and Nineties.  “I was particularly impressed by David Arkenstone’s Valley in the Clouds, David Lanz’s Cristofori’s Dream, The Narada Collections, Patrick O’Hearn and Alex deGrassi.  Eventually this led to my decision to start incorporating a much wider range of sounds and instruments into my style.  In the late 2000s I met a professor of music at a college who was very helpful in introducing me to the possibilities of keyboards, so I ended up taking lessons from him to expand my musical proficiencies.  I still love the guitar, which is a very physical way of making music.  But working on the piano and keyboards helped me understand a lot of things I was missing, including accompaniment.  This led to my exploration of synthesizers, samplers and computers in creating my music.”

According to Suereth, “I like my music to be made up of a variety of sounds, new and old.  I like utilizing the sounds of classical instruments such as the oboe and cello and piano, and having them sound warm and natural, like old friends to our ears.  But then I also enjoy adding instruments, such as a guitar or oud, where I sometimes heavily process the sound which gives it a more modern feeling.

“Another influence would be the great modern classical composer Aaron Copland.  I put a portrait of him up in my studio to remind me of how careful he was in composing and arranging his music.  I spend a lot of time on each note and its placement to help make my music interesting to my audience and to impart meaning into each piece.”

Suereth released his debut recording, Small Steps, in 2013 followed by his second CD, Going Down the Highway, the next year.  For Spiritual Haven, Suereth again composed the tunes, created all the music, and produced and arranged.  Mastering was handled by industry veteran Tom Eaton for Imaginary Road Studios.

“My music has its foundation in the earth and the spiritual places around us, both the traditional sites and new spaces.  I specifically try to make music that has a spiritual feeling or connection.  With my music and visual imagery I am trying to promote the spiritual perspective of the planet.  I am trying to create an environment where people can go to explore their spirituality, which, for humans, is one of our most important pastimes.”

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