Peg Luke’s Cool Projects Records / New Day Christian Distributors
(release date: August 16, 2019)
By Bob Marovich
Over about a two-year period, flutist and composer Peg Luke created the oratorio Psalm Space from her favorite Psalms, hymns, and prayers.
In addition to applying her classical music background—Luke’s flute recitals have sold out Carnegie Hall twelve times—she adopts the French Taize model for her methodology. This means restful, repetitive melodies delivered in a hypnotic chant-like manner.
Like Taize, Psalm Space is orchestral music for a candlelit church, designed to lower blood pressure and allow the listener to bathe in the warm, rejuvenating ambience.
Unlike Taize, Luke’s arrangements are more complex in melody and rhythm. They actually feel a little like art songs. And since the lyrics come from the Psalms and common prayers, they are not the typical one- or two-line Taize pieces. They resemble the musical accompaniment that composers like David Haas and Marty Haugen have created for the Responsorial Psalm portion of the contemporary Catholic Mass.
The very finest of the album’s selections is an orchestral version of “The Lord’s Prayer” rendered by an adult chorus. After an introduction of hushed flute and piano flourishes, the chorus intones weightless harmonic stanzas in alternating legato and staccato, pianissimo and fortissimo. Its pulse is a little like tranquil breathing. I suspect the selection is especially captivating when heard in an echoing cathedral.
Lisa Bevill and Terry Blackwood provide vocals while, naturally, Luke supplies the flute. Multi-Grammy award winning producer Neal Merrick Blackwood (Neal and Terry are from the famous Blackwood gospel singing family) creates what is akin to a musical massage.
Three of Five Stars
Pick: “The Lord’s Prayer”