(Release Date: March 31, 2017)
Proceeds from Spring Carousel to Directly Benefit
City of Hope National Medical Center
“A true original with an inimitable style…”
–Classical MPR (Minnesota Public Radio)
“…a master of both tone and invention.”
–Austin American Statesman
San Francisco, CA — Wednesday, December 21, 2016 — Celebrated American pianist George Winston will release a cancer research benefit album, Spring Carousel, on RCA Records on March 31, 2017. Spring Carousel features a collection of 15 solo piano compositions written by Winston while in recovery from a bone marrow transplant for Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS) at City of Hope, in Duarte, California, near Los Angeles. Proceeds from sales of Spring Carousel will directly benefit City of Hope. George Winston is available for interviews upon request.
George Winston reminds music fans on his 14th solo piano album, Spring Carousel, that only one voice is required to be wholeheartedly inspiring. For Winston, that voice has always been solo acoustic piano. Upon hearing Winston’s singular work on Spring Carousel, a depth of piano brilliance effortlessly sinks into one’s soul, never leaving the listener eager for anything other than the next swirling song on the recording.
In the fall of 2012, Winston’s acclaimed career spanning more than 40 years and selling 15 million albums, came to a crossroads. Following his performance on September 13, 2012, in Sand Point, Idaho, the pianist barely made it through the second half of his show, before laying down on the dressing room floor needing to go to the emergency room, and then transferring to City of Hope where he had his bone marrow transplant on November 22. As he gained strength, Winston spent his time at the piano in the hospital auditorium every night.
Spring Carousel is the culmination of works composed at City of Hope during early 2013. From 59 recorded songs, 15 select works are now showcased on Winston’s latest solo piano album. As with his previous recordings, including seven Platinum selling albums (Autumn, December, Forest, Summer, Winter Into Spring, Linus & Lucy – The Music of Vince Guaraldi, and Plains), Winston’s studio recordings are all experienced-based. His season-themed albums come mainly from his childhood experience in Montana of the drastic difference in the seasons. And his releases Montana – A Love Story, as well as Forest and Plains, come primarily from his sense of the different topographies in Montana. Spring Carousel’s setting is City of Hope, where Winston was given a second chance at life.
During his late-night piano sessions at City of Hope, themes turned into compositions that he labeled carousels. These were pieces influenced by the spiraling motions of the planets, stars and galaxies in the universe, composer Howard Blake‘s piece “The Snowman’s Music Box Dance” from the children’s video “The Snowman,” composer Steve Reich‘s work, and the circular motion of music boxes and carnival carousels. Spring Carousel is comprised of three types of pieces: carousels, uptempo songs called Ms Mysteries, and slower ballad-esque bouquets.
Of the many distinct tracks on Spring Carousel, “Dream 1” is the only song Winston ever actually wrote while dreaming. Upon waking and going to the piano, the exact notes worked well, with his left hand muting the strings inside the piano, and the right hand playing similar to the finger-style technique on the guitar, and inspired by the players of the Zimbabwean mbira tradition (aka thumb piano). The first of the ballads on Spring Carousel, “More Than You Know” is a tribute to all those who have inspired Winston. Sparse piano sways are connected with a sense of purpose and meaning, supported with loving reassurance. “Many Clocks (Carousel 4)” concurrently contrasts different time signatures in both the left and right hands with an aesthetic reminiscent of music boxes playing, clocks ticking and chiming.
Winston summons cupid in the song “Unrequited Love (Carousel 9),” a short but potent carousel. The piece is filled with all the potentials of love, but in the end, forgoes the experience with all of its inherent emotional risks. “Night Blooming” is a direct reflection of his time in the hospital, and how the body heals while sleeping at night. Winston says, “It was as if I composed this in the hospital room itself. My doctor, Stephen J. Forman, Chairman of the Hematology Department at City of Hope, is one of the world’s four foremost authorities on hematology and bone marrow transplants, and in a lot of ways, the way we work are similar. We both often stay up all night, and we try to make sure there’s food and water near us while we’re working so that we remember to eat and drink. He actually had attended some of my shows some years back; he was a friend I didn’t know I had.”
“Fess’ Carousels (Carousels 12 & 14)” is subtly based on the influence of Professor Longhair‘s playing on Winston’s music; “Fess” was a nickname of the great New Orleans Professor Longhair (1918-1980). Another New Orleans piano legend James Booker (1939-1983) serves as the muse along with the cat Gobajie for “Pixie #13 in C (Gobajie – A Foggy Day)” — Winston is a self-professed extreme cat lover, with over 400 cat friends across the country. Booker also lends his genius to Winston’s performance on “Ms Mystery 3,” a mid-tempo R&B piece.
“Rekindling Love (Carousel 21)” is all about just letting things happen, and not forcing them to take place. Winston notes, “It’s a feeling of gratitude of love returning without even trying.” The closing track “Requited Love (Carousel 15)” is anything but an ending. “When love fades and comes back, it reminds me of a spring day and realizing the affection for another.”
Over the past couple of years, Winston has made a full recovery and has lived life primarily on the road performing in many of America’s renowned concert halls and venues. Without the incredible help of City of Hope, Spring Carousel would simply not have been possible. Spring Carousel marks Winston’s fourth benefit album. He’s previously released Gulf Coast Blues & Impressions – A Hurricane Relief Benefit, Gulf Coast Blues & Impressions Vol. 2 – A Louisiana Wetlands Benefit, and the EP Remembrance – A Memorial Benefit for those affected by 9/11. Other critically acclaimed releases have included: Linus & Lucy – The Music of Vince Guaraldi, Love Will Come – The Music of Vince Guaraldi Vol. 2, and Night Divides The Day – The Music of the Doors. He has also recorded the solo piano soundtrack for the children’s story The Velveteen Rabbit, narrated by Meryl Streep, and the solo guitar soundtrack for the story Sadako and the 1000 Paper Cranes, narrated by Liv Ullman.
For a comprehensive list of George Winston’s forthcoming tour dates, please visit: georgewinston.com
About City of Hope
City of Hope is a leading research and treatment center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases. Designated as a comprehensive cancer center, the highest recognition bestowed by the National Cancer Institute, City of Hope is also a founding member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, with research and treatment protocols that advance care throughout the nation.
At City of Hope, scientists work with doctors to treat both the physical and emotional needs of their patients. By attending to the individual, not just the illness, life afterwards can be fuller and more rewarding. At City of Hope, they combine science with soul to make miracles every day. As Dr. Stephen Forman says, “We now learn more in a week than we used to in a year.” They also work with the Be the Match organization to match donor and patient.
About Be the Match
Be the Match is a registry of over 11 million committed marrow donors. Every day, they help thousands of people with leukemia and other life-threatening diseases search for a donor who can make their transplant possible.