- 26 May 20
In a special tribute to frontline workers, piano players all over the world will unite for a unique Global Piano Recital. And the song they have chosen for the centre-piece is Brendan Graham’s ‘You Raise Me Up’ – one of the most successful songs in the modern music canon.
'You Raise Me Up’, written by Irishman Brendan Graham and Rolf Løvland, has been chosen as the centre-piece for a unique worldwide Global Piano Recital, planned for Tuesday, June 16 – when the “big play” will take place.
The recital aims to counter the widespread feelings of isolation and despair in a world wracked by Covid-19, via an event based on music, positivity and inspiration.
The event is being organised by Playground Sessions, in a partnership between Quincy Jones* Productions and the Hal Leonard Corporation**, which has created a unique music learning app. Those who want to play a part in the global recital have to submit a performance of ‘You Raise Me Up’ on Instagram or Facebook, using the hashtag #GlobalPianoRecital by June 11, 2020.
"Young kids, rookies, intermediate, and advanced players will learn different parts of the song,” Playground Sessions*** explain on their website. "At the end, all parts will unite as one voice to play the full song together.”
The word on the ground says that we can expect some big names to be involved. Watch this space!
"The request to use ‘You Raise Me Up’ came out of the blue, from Kathy Spanberger, President & COO of Peermusic and Larry Morton, President & CEO Hal Leonard Inc.,” Brendan Graham – one of the founders of the Irish Music Rights Organisation, and its first Chairman – explains.
"It was in response to an idea from Quincy Jones to create a feel-good musical moment with piano players across the world, from students to advanced, all playing one song in tribute to front-line workers.”
For the legendary music producer, it is all about the emotional power of music.
"My hope,” Quincy Jones explains, "is that music can do for us what it’s done time and time again: shed some light, inspiration, and provide a space for expression when it’s difficult to find the right words.”
It is a tribute to the extraordinary reach of the song that ‘You Raise Me Up’ has been chosen as the focus for a global event of this kind.
"It is a huge honour,” Brendan Graham says, "to have one’s song considered to be the right one for such an unifying project and as a means of expressing gratitude to all who, throughout the world, have given themselves so unselfishly, to helping others in need, often at great personal cost to themselves."
Larry Morton, President of Hal Leonard Inc., is enormously enthusiastic about the importance of ‘You Raise Me Up’ to the spirit of the project.
‘’With COVID-19 causing people to stay at home,” Larry observes, "Playground Sessions recently reached out to us to ask for our help in coordinating a feel-good musical event, in which we choose one song that we invite students to learn on piano via Playground Sessions over a 30 day period.
"When Quincy brought up the idea of a feel-good musical moment, with beginning piano students playing a song in tribute to front-line workers, he asked for song recommendations. In brainstorming song choices with them, the song that came to mind as one of the most uplifting and inspirational of all-time is 'You Raise Me Up’."
Age of Uncertainty
As it happens, where the song is concerned, the event is a timely one.
"It is an extraordinary coincidence, Brendan Graham reflects, "as it was this week, 19 years ago, in May 2001, that I scratched out the first shape of the lyric to YRMU. Like every other song, I was hoping it would just get a recording.
"But, as I have learned over the years, songs seem to find their own way, or have their own time. To some extent we, as their writers, are left standing on the sidelines, watching. So, I am always grateful –and often surprised – if something I’ve written finds its way to perhaps bring some comfort, some unity in music – or, even release for people – in these uncertain times for the world.
“I think we have something to learn from these times," he adds. “Our insignificance, our fragility as a human race… and how unnecessary we are to the well-being of the planet.
"In fact we are seeing the opposite – that, when we are penned back, the planet begins to purify itself, replenish, revive. As I read recently, we are not Masters of the Universe, only guests. And then, for such a fleeting moment in the flight of the Arrow of Time.
"While this is the Age of Uncertainty, it can also be the Age of Reflection – and the Age of Redirection – if, out of the ashes of this terrible Time of Coronavirus, we seize the moment."
‘You Raise Me Up’ is not the only Brendan Graham song that’s currently making news.
"Coincidentally, 'The Watchman' – something I wrote many years ago in response to the tsunami in Indonesia – has now also seemed to find its time,” Brendan reveals. “It is the single from Ériu, Eimear Quinn’s beautiful album with the RTE Concert Orchestra, which is released this coming Friday – and on which there are a number of other scratchings from behind the half door here (laugh)."
More On Quincy Jones, Hal Leonard Corporation and Playground Sessions:
* Quincy Jones is one of the most successful music producers and film soundtrack composers ever, with 28 Grammys to his credit, from 80 nominations. He produced Michael Jackson’s record-breaking three-in-a-row, Off The Wall (1979), Thriller (1982) and Bad (1987). A jazz musician by background, he also produced albums by legends like Count Basie, Frank Sinatra, Dizzy Gillespie, Little Richard and Aretha Franklin, among many more.
** Hal Leonard is a music publishing company, which has the print rights to music from the Disney Music Group and Universal Music Publishing Group, among others. It is one of the largest publishers in the field of music education.
*** Playground Sessions are currently offering 30-day free piano courses via their website playground sessions.com The app and the tutorials for this project are completely free.