Paul Schwartz -- one of the world's leaders in creating eloquently-spiritual, modern-classical music that fully integrates elements of both pop and new age -- reaffirms his preeminent position with State of Grace III, the latest volume in his series of original-music hymns and anthems.

Although serving as composer, arranger, conductor, pianist and producer on his recordings, Paul puts his music to the forefront and does not put his name on the covers of the State of Grace recordings. In addition, although a few of the pieces on his albums are instrumentals, most feature solo or chorus vocals by singers such as Lisbeth Scott and Rebecca Luker, both of whom Schwartz has worked with for many years. "I'm listed in the credits similarly to a film director," he explains. "I create the overall sound production, but I don't feel the need to be in the spotlight by myself."

State of Grace III and Paul Schwartz's other CDs can be purchased at stores nationwide, on the web at sites such as amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com, and at digital download locations such as iTunes. For more information about Paul, visit his website at paulschwartz.com.

In addition to the three State of Grace albums, Schwartz also is the creator of another best-selling spiritually-oriented series, Aria, Aria 2: New Horizons and Aria 3: Metamorphosis. He draws on his background as a classically-trained composer at the Royal College of Music in London and as a renowned conductor of Broadway shows (the original "Phantom of the Opera"). He has worked with Andre Previn, composed and recorded with Carlos Santana and David Foster, and written for John Groban. In addition, his family's history in Broadway and Hollywood film music, and his further musical studies in Italy, all left Paul uniquely prepared to create some of the most dynamic and acclaimed classical-pop music of our time.

The musical arrangements on State of Grace III are wide-ranging from modern pulsing rhythmic patterns to a piano-and-violin piece, and from small acoustic ensembles to large orchestrations. Schwartz plays piano, conducts a symphonic string orchestra, and uses his studio full of electronics to add color, but only using sounds that are uniquely electronic. "I never use a synthesizer to fake the sound of an orchestra." Schwartz wrote all of the music on the record (with the exception of the traditional spiritual "Beams of Heaven") and gathered the lyrics from varied sources including ancient texts as well as his primary vocalist, Lisbeth Scott.

The Latin lyrics for "Christe Redemptor" came from an old Advent hymn that Paul reinvents using modern techno beats as well as a string section. That music flows into the dreamy "Agnus Dei" that juxtaposes a choir against a jazzy piano and light strings. "Beams of Heaven" simply features Lisbeth's voice with a large string orchestra. The all-instrumental pieces are "Lux Aeterna" (with Paul conducting a small orchestra) that flows into "...et lux perpetua" (with its booming Japanese drums), and "Soledad" which quietly features Paul's acoustic piano with violin played by Lucia Micarelli (Josh Groban, Jethro Tull). "Salve Regina," another classic Latin-hymn text, captures a classical, operatic style and is the one piece sung by Rebecca Luker (known for her work on Schwartz's ARIA series, with Leonard Bernstein and on many Broadway show recordings). "Despite the Christian origins of these ancient Latin texts, I believe the spirituality of the music is universal," explains Paul.

State of Grace III also encapsulates several English-language tunes leaning in the folk-pop direction and sung by Lisbeth Scott (INXS, Peter Davison), a solo recording artist in her own right who also has sung on many film soundtracks ("The Chronicles of Narnia," "Shrek," "Kingdom of Heaven"). The first of these songs is "Center of My Heart," co-written by Billy Sideman, who also plays acoustic guitar on it. The ethereal-pop-music sounds continue with a song of lost-love ("To You") and the pulsing "Listen," both with lyrics by Lisbeth.

Schwartz brings a wealth of experience and a rich musical vocabulary to his projects. Born in New York City, Paul is the son of famed Broadway and film composer Arthur Schwartz, whose credits include "Dancing in the Dark," "That's Entertainment" and "The Band Wagon." Paul's mother, Mary, was an actress and dancer. Paul began music lessons at age four and formal piano lessons at six.

Paul's family moved to London when he was 12 and he soon came under the influence of what was, to him, an ancient and unfamiliar culture steeped in tradition. He traces his interest in Latin texts back to singing in Westminster Abbey, where he participated in services every morning for four years while attending the school next door. He balanced his classical music studies with listening to the progressive rock of Pink Floyd, David Bowie, and Brian Eno and Roxy Music in high school, and Kraftwerk, Blondie and Television in college. In addition, every few weeks Paul attended either a play by the Royal Shakespeare Company or the National Theatre, or a musical performance by the Royal Opera or the English National Opera. "By the time I was 19 I had seen most of the major operas as many as four or five times. I really soaked it up."

After graduating from high school, Schwartz spent the summer in Siena, Italy, studying composition. He returned four more times to study conducting and to perform as an instrumentalist in the contemporary music festival there. At the prestigious Royal College of Music, he earned his Bachelor of Music Degree in composing and conducting. He continued to live in London for several years serving as pianist and assistant conductor for various West End stage shows, and as conductor for Ballet Rambert.

After moving back to the United States, Schwartz served as the assistant conductor of the Washington Opera in DC, the assistant conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony under Andre Previn, and the conductor of the Rogers & Hammerstein ballet musical "On Your Toes" at the Kennedy Center. "On Your Toes" moved to Broadway with Schwartz conducting and this led him to conduct three more Broadway shows - "Song & Dance," "Carrie" and the original New York company of "Phantom of the Opera." He also conducted the New York City Ballet, the San Diego Opera and the Washington Opera. Then Schwartz's composing blossomed as he wrote ballets for the New York City Ballet, the Ohio Ballet and the Milwaukee Ballet; a commissioned piece for the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra; and music for the closing ceremonies of the Olympic Games in Barcelona (the only American commissioned to do so). He has written a musical, "Summer" (based on the novel by Edith Wharton), which was performed in New York City and won the Richard Rodgers Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In addition, Paul has scored several films and his songs have been selected to appear in movies, television shows ("Alias," "Smallville") and trailers.

Schwartz began recording music when he had the idea for Aria, "big, lush, orchestral sounds based around opera and classical music, but with contemporary twists like great grooves." The album spent more than a year in the Top Ten of Billboard magazine's "Classical Crossover" chart. His top-of-the-crossover-chart dominance continued with Aria 2 and Aria 3. As a producer, he hit the pop charts with the best-selling soundtrack Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas. His most personal work, released under his own name, is the CD Earthbound. His music so impressed composer/producer David Foster that Paul was invited to co-write "All'Improvviso Amore" for Josh Groban's #1 pop-chart album Closer.

Paul created a new phenomenon in 2000 with State of Grace which featured his trademark seductive ambient grooves underlying solo voice, choral and orchestral music with lyrics based on traditional religious texts. Carlos Santana was so taken by the music that he co-wrote and played guitar on the tune "Curacion" which appeared on State of Grace II: Turning To Peace. Both State of Grace CDs were best-sellers on the Billboard charts.

Now with State of Grace III (his first on Zakatak Music), Schwartz has once again created a masterful album of genre-bending, spiritually-uplifting vocal and instrumental music. "I get excited by the challenge of creating a new sound by successfully merging disparate classical and pop elements. But even beyond that, I specifically wanted State of Grace III to be a very varied record with each track sounding unique and having its own identity."

 

Conversation with Paul Schwartz

 

Discography:

Aria [Cafe Del Mar]

Aria 2: New Horizon [Cafe Del Mar]

Aria  3: Metamorphosis [Cafe Del Mar]

Earthbound

Revolution

State of Grace

State of Grace II: Turning to Peace

State of Grace III

State of Grace III [Barnes & Noble Exclusive]

 

 

Paul Schwartz Project "Nevermore" - Dear Frankie video

 

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