Miki-Sophia Cloud, photo credit: Jesse Irons

Miki-Sophia Cloud, photo credit: Jesse Irons



One early morning years ago, I came across a text concerning St. Teresa of Avila—a Medieval Spanish nun and renowned Christian mystic. On a similarly sleepy morning 500 years prior, some novices stumbled upon Teresa in the abbey's kitchen, gripping a sizzling skillet with inhuman tenacity.  Apparently, she had been in the middle of frying eggs when the Holy Spirit filled her with paralyzing spiritual ecstasy. Needless to say, it caught my attention.

What I found most compelling about that text, and what continues to fascinate me about religious mysticism is its deep connection between the sacred and the sensual, the divine and the domestic. It's the idea that God doesn't wait until you're all cleaned up, putting your best face forward in mosque/church/synagogue for an encounter. The spirit interrupts while you're making breakfast. 

When I reflect on the most spiritually potent moments of my life, they are bound together with the most human, earthy physicality: the sound of communal breath, the flicker of a modest candle, the sensation of breaking into a sweat.  Being a musician has only intensified my belief in this connection. Somehow, the simple physical gestures of pulling a stick across a string, dropping fingers into place, and breathing in unison has the power to move, inspire, and heal even the deepest corners of our complex human hearts. Really, it's perplexingly wonderful in the truest sense of the word, in that it actually leaves me full of wonder on a daily basis.

Dreams and Prayers, the album, explores music's role in religious mysticism as the ultimate passageway between the physical and the spiritual. In each of the four works on this album, drawing from three faith traditions and 1000 years of history, something very simple—a breath, a word, a turn, a single note is transformed into something transcendent, and even holy. 
As we've performed and toured this program over the past two years, I've begun each concert by inviting the audience to react in whatever fashion they wish, removing any obligation to applaud. If this music makes you want to sit in meditative silence, please do so. If it makes you want to leap and dance and yelp in fervent ecstasy, by all means, do so.  The most gratifying part of this journey for me has been that during our performances, people from all walks of 
life, faith traditions, and personal philosophies have expressed the deep resonance of this music for them.  They've sat in transcendent silence and actually danced down the aisles of stuffy concert halls. My hope is that this album will also find resonance within you. May it stimulate your mind, feed your soul, and light your spirit ablaze.