New York, NY — Composer Christopher Bono’s major new ambient-orchestral album BARDO will be released on the Our Silent Canvas label on July 15. The 60-minute, full-album work is a surreal musical drama narrating the journey of “The Fool” (a character derived from the ancient Tarot system), which illustrates the character’s cycle from despair and darkness, through the afterlife, transcendence and finally rebirth. The album will have digital distribution through Naxos, and will be available on CD and special edition vinyl through Our Silent Canvas.
BARDO (which is the Tibetan word for “transitional state” or “portal”) was produced by Christopher Bono, and the orchestral sessions were co-produced with Grammy Award-winner Adam Abeshouse. The album was mixed by Bono in collaboration with Grammy Award-winning engineer Silas Brown and mastered by Scott Hull at Masterdisk. The phenomenal young conductor Teddy Abrams (currently assistant conductor to Leonard Slatkin with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra) led an orchestra comprising members of the Czech Philarmonic Orchestra and the Prague Philharmonic at legendary Dvorák Hall.
Additional ambient instruments and guitars were recorded at The Great Togetherness Hall at Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s Blue Cliff Monestary, with percussion and vocals recorded at Bono’s Apollo 37 studio, both in upstate New York.
Originally a site-specific work commissioned by Sympho Concerts, BARDO was premiered to a capacity crowd at the iconic Ann Hamilton Tower in Geyserville, California, in June 2012. Performers and audience members were immersed in the sonic experience by being positioned along the length of the entire structure on double-helix interior staircases. This vertical plane was taken into consideration for the compositional process and was later translated onto a horizontal level for the larger orchestral recording. The work has a vivid and exciting future as a modern dance multimedia production currently being scheduled in Florida and New York.
Complementing the album will be a 20-30 minute documentary directed by Ilú Media and a series of inspired illustrations by Christopher Bono’s close collaborator, DZO Olivier, who has created six vibrant and detailed images narrating the core story of BARDO, woven into a beautiful package for the CD and limited-edition vinyl.
Christopher Bono entered the world of classical music later than most of his contemporaries. He spent his childhood and teenage years devoted to baseball; in 1999 he was drafted by the Seattle Mariners, but an injury kept him from playing. Filling the void left by the end of his athletic endeavors, Bono began playing the guitar when he was 21. For a few years, he toured, recorded, and performed in an alternative roots-rock style. In his mid-20s, he chose to learn classical composition techniques in order to more fully realize his musical goals. Living seven years in nearly hermetic isolation, he taught himself to read and write music, and later studied Harmony, Analysis and Counterpoint in the Nadia Boulanger tradition independently with Juilliard professor Kendall Briggs and at La Scola Cantorum in Paris.
Inside Christopher Bono’s Bardo
The narrative of BARDO was inspired by four fields of reference: The Tarot System, The Tibetan Book Of The Dead, sound healing/esoteric sound theories, and sacred geometry. The first movement, “Bardo I: Enter the Mystic,” marks the genesis of the psycho-spiritual journey of the Tarot System’s Fool. It begins from a place of isolated desperation, and this initial darkness culminates in “Bardo II: The End of the Oligarchs” with the destruction of the archetypal Tower, representing the social and psychological constructs of man.
The second half of the album chronicles the “in-between” experience as described in the ancient Tibetan Book of the Dead. In “Bardo III: Enter The Void” the music guides the Fool through a series of difficult psychological experiences leading to a liberated state, where a wondrous, spinning tunnel of visual and sonic phenomenon inspires ascension. From a place of infinite possibility, “Bardo IV: Clouds Blooming at the Thought of Union” moves the Fool through what the Tibetans call the Sidpa Bardo, or the Bardo of transmigration. In this final Bardo, the Fool arrives at the door to his next embodied life, where he fulfills the karmic destiny created by the loving embrace of his future parents. Each movement is preluded by ambient portals that act as passageways to the varying environments of each movement.
About Christopher Bono
Christopher Bono’s introspective album Invocations was released in fall 2012. It was his first public release in seven years and his first-ever classical album. In late 2013, he released recordings of two choral works entitled Unity and The Unexcelled Mantra performed by Harold Rosenbaum’s New York Virtuoso Singers. An accompanying video for The Unexcelled Mantra was released in November 2013 by film artist Ingibjörg Birgisdóttir (Sigur Rós), and in early spring 2014 another video will be released by Tobias Stretch (Radiohead, Deftones) featuring animated puppetry created by the film artist. In the fall of 2014, Our Silent Canvas will release the first album from NOUS, an Experimental Music Project founded by Christopher exploring ritual and spontaneity within music. Currently, Bono is in the studio completing the first full-length album for his ambient-electronic, project, Ghost Against Ghost. This album, entitled Οία will be released in late 2014/early 2015 accompanied by a US and European tour.