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Sunday, October 5, 2008

CD Review: Kathryn Toyama - Hope For Harmony

Kathryn Toyama - Hope For Harmony
2008, Kathryn Toyama

Kathryn Toyama had classical training as a child and burnt out on the intensity and hyper-competitiveness of the classical world. Following 9/11 she had a musical epiphany that she could write songs, and spent the next 4+ years composing off-the-cuff new age/classical piano compositions. Eschewing commitment to paper, Toyama often creates in an improvisational fashion. The results are ambient musical water colors that depict Toyama's mood and metaphysical place during the creation process for each individual song. Hope For Harmony is a collection of songs written between 2002 and 2006. While no commercial purpose was originally planned for the songs, a visit to a psychic who had never heard her play resulted in a conviction to release a CD.

Toyama aspires to a humanistic collectivist philosophy that revolves around inner peace and inter-connectedness, and attempts to spread this message through her music. She currently donates time and music to organizations focused on healing in various capacities. The music itself is pleasant. There is a strong ambient sense that's traditional to new age/meditation music. Melody and song development are second thoughts here at best. There are exceptions, of course. The Light is actually a pleasant and uplifting tune that swells and ebbs like waves on the water; As Times Change sounds like a piano sonata that Debussey might have written. On the whole, however, Hope For Harmony spends a great deal of time doing what jam bands call noodling.

Kathryn Toyama is a talented pianist, but her writing style is one that most any pianist with a decent ear can ascribe to. As such much of the material she generates here is strictly generic. With a couple of exceptions the music is wonderful pleasant but sadly forgettable. Hope For Harmony is a great disc for meditation; for dinner music, or for lost and lonely reflections on a rainy day.

Rating: 2.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Kathryn Toyama at You can purchase a copy of Hope For Harmony at

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