ENLIGHTENED PIANO RADIO
“Our world is busy enough. Listen to music that will restore you!”
Ft. Collins, CO, UNITED STATES
Ryan Marvel is a native of Colorado. He began to tinker on the piano at a young age, watching his brother and grandmother play and recreate what he was hearing. Once in lessons, he frustrated his early teachers as reading music seemed like a burden to him. Eventually, he would come to know a teacher who understood individual creativity and taught him the value of reading to enhance arranging and composition.
Ryan began to think about classical piano as a career through his high school years, studying with Patricia Weaver in Durango. Responding to his desire to go to Julliard, his teacher would tell him “Great! Get ready to give everything to the dream…and get ready to give everything else up…like basketball, tennis, skiing…” Ryan reconsidered. He continued to compose and arrange music and attended NAU in Flagstaff on a music scholarship. At the time, it wasn’t a good fit for Ryan so he returned home to focus on composition.
For the next several years, Ryan worked in the restaurant industry. Days off were spent skiing and hiking and camping, and piano became more of a side pursuit. While he found success in the business, he always felt that calling back to music. In April 1999, he took a very part time job as a pianist at a small church in Chandler, AZ. That decision would bring musical fulfillment back into Ryan’s life for good.
In 2005, he released his first solo album, “Left Hand, Right Hand”, a collection of Rachmaninoff, Chopin, Gershwin, some original arrangements and two original works for piano, including the evocative “Rainfall”. In June 2010 he followed with a record of all original material, “Possibilities”. A “musical journey of personal reflection”, the album has been nominated twice for Album of the Year honors, by SoloPiano.com and Whisperings Piano Radio, respectively. In November 2013, his first seasonal album, “Winter” was released. A collection of holiday music, the CD also features guest musicians on three tracks, adding flute, cello and didgeridoo. The title track is an original composition reflecting on the stillness and depth of the season. The album was nominated for Album of the Year for a holiday album by SoloPiano.com.
In October 2017, he released his fourth album, “Reflecting Forward”, an all original release. The record is a very personal reflection of cathartic healing and moving through profound challenge. The album won Album of the Year 2017 from both Whisperings Solo Piano Radio and SoloPiano.com, respectively.
Ryan released “Winter II” in November 2018. The album is a follow up to the first seasonal record, and is a collection of re-imagined arrangements of winter favorites such as “Ukrainian Bell Carol”, “Still, Still, Still”, “Angels We Have Heard on High”, “What Child is This” and “Dona Nobis Pacem”. Ryan also reunited with cellist Heidi Mausbach on two version of the Bach-Gounod “Ave Maria”. The album won Album of the Year from SoloPianoChristmas.com. It is also nominated for Enlightened Piano Radio’s Holiday Album of the Year to be announced in September of 2019 at an awards concert in Montreal.
Ryan’s newest project, “Generous Night, Redeem” is a follow-up to his “Reflecting Forward”. The album continues the journey of self-discovery…fourteen new original pieces that reflect memory, truth, loss, love, transformation and letting go. The album released on September 6th, 2019.
Generous Night, Redeem
2019, solo piano, new age
2017, Solo Piano, New Age
2013, Holiday, solo piano
2010, solo piano, new age
“Reflecting Forward” reviewed by
The fourteen original piano solos on Reflecting Forward by Marvel’s own words “represents emotions and reflections throughout the year…..the album to me represents pain, anger, realization, healing, peace, love and renewal.” The liner notes and the poem on the inside of the cover are a powerful read and set the stage for an excellent musical experience. It’s a rarity that an album comes along where I have trouble picking just a few pieces to comment on and review, this album fits that description so buckle up. There were so many favorites that I had to narrow it down, which was a difficult task.
The powerful album begins with the title track Reflecting Forward. The intro gave me a pleasant carpe diem moment where dramatic pauses give way to a gentle yet strong lyrical presentation. It was my seize the day moment and encouraged me the listener to keep moving forward in life no matter what happens. This piece gives an honest introduction to a journey that Marvel has been on personally. It is stunning!
The second piece that grabbed my attention was Forgotten. It made me feel both warm and contemplative. Ryan with his soft touch whispers over the keys and captures gracefully the nostalgic moments in time. I loved it. Conflict is my next favorite on the album. The plucking of the piano strings was unexpected and breathtaking. I loved the sound of the contrast of the strings and keys. The contrast to me representing conflict within. When the sound of the plucking turns to the keys, the voice within is released into the sound of the keys. In a discussion with Ryan the point here I think is the voicing of the piano being related to what is heard when your own voice is released and heard after being silent. I heard both the challenge, conflict and release within this piece that musically represents his life. A beautiful contrast painted on the keys of the piano. I loved the color and tones of this song.
One of the most powerful pieces to me on the album was Apology. According to Ryan, he is proud of what this piece represents both musically and emotionally. I loved the arpeggio’s in the piece. The timbre of this song is deep and dark evoking many different emotions throughout. The lyrical presentation of words that cannot be spoken but rather are gleaned and expressed on the piano. This track is a reminder of the mastery and command that this artist has of the piano. It was my wow moment on the album. This piece had different elements of the masters woven throughout and it was very appealing to me the listener, drawing me in.
Apology ended up being my favorite on the album.
Each piece on the album represented such different array of sentiments expressed musically by this talented composer. Reflecting Forward is a remarkable and raw representation of Ryan’s journey over the past year painted on the canvas of the piano at the hands of a gracious master. Reflecting Forward is SPECTACULAR and is one of my top picks for 2017 to close out the year.