Guitarist Sharon Isbin lists her spare time activities as jungle trekking in Latin America, motor cycle touring in the Greek Islands, cross country skiing, snorkeling and back packing.
When asked if these hobbies were a sort of metaphor for her latest CD “Journey to the New World, ” she said,
“That’s a thoughtful question, for a second I thought you were going to ask me how come I’m still alive,” quipped Isbin.
“Yes, it does fit into my thoughts about the movement of music,” she said.
“The album begins with music from old England with my playing both parts of duets by John Dowland, one of the most popular composers of his day.”
The central part of the “Journey to the New World” is a suite of songs recorded by Joan Baez and arranged by John Duarte.
Like the Dowland pieces, these were songs that came from the British Isles.
“I’d grown up listening to Joan Baez and after talking to John, we went to Joan and she gave us her blessing on the project.”
Later Baez agreed to sing on two songs for “Journey to the New World.” Isbin says that she still tears up when she listens to Joan Baez sing “Wayfaring Stranger.”
The final section of the CD is a journey within the journey.
It’s Mark O’Connor’s “Strings and Threads Suite.”
O’Connor wrote this set of dances for solo violin exploring roots in the British Isles and developments through American violin styles and approaches with reels, rags, blues and even swing.
Isbin asked him to arrange it for violin and guitar.
“The first performance went so well, that I told him, “We’ve got to take this into the studo.”
By the way, you can see Sharon Isbin and Mark O’Connor perform one of the selections from that concert on youtube.
Sharon Isbin’s “Journey to the New World: A Voyage in Song from the British Isles to the New World” is on Sony Classics.