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  • Jonathan Widran

KAREN BIEHL, Starlight Dreams

A famous Disney song once told us that when we wish upon a star, our dreams come true. And we’ve all grown up hearing about true romance and love that was “written in the stars.” For emerging pianist Karen Biehl these aren’t simply poetic sentiments but deeply lived experiences. Since her childhood in Dallas, where she grew up studying piano and playing violin in various youth orchestra, she’s always had a profound sense of connection to the stars – and to a man she always believed was her destiny and would enter her life when everything aligned. During difficult times, she would seek comfort in the stars, knowing intuitively that they would connect her to her life’s purpose and ultimately, her true love.

That’s the beautiful, heartfelt real life back story to Starlight Dreams, Karen’s first all instrumental, solo piano release after a handful of spiritual-minded, musically eclectic releases over the past years centered around journeys to true purpose, true health, true love and true health. Picking up where Journey to True Love left off – and including two of its tracks for seamless thematic continuity - it’s a sweeping, empowering collection, full of joyful bursts of emotion and gentle moments of reflection. From the dreamlike, free-flowing enlightenment dance meant to encourage personal soul “Awakenings” through the bright, hypnotic, start and stop-filled swirls of “The Beginning” (which, ironically comes at the end), the 12 tracks seem designed to engage listeners in a remarkable inner journey towards personal peace, focus and self-awareness.

The collection’s only keyboard generated song which also appears on the previous album, contemplative, prayer-like “Invocation,” is pure musical autobiography, giving us fascinating insight into her mystical quest for a soul mate. Though her musical background includes receiving a master’s degree in singing and performing in opera groups in Dallas and San Francisco, by the late 90s she had gravitated towards composing. In 1999, she began composing a collection of music inspired by visions of her True Love, whom she called “The Maestro.” One of these songs was “Invocation.” In 2013, the stars rewarded her patience with the manifestation of that vision, and she’s been with him ever since. Having embodied the way music can rouse the spirit and set the Universal machinery in motion, she has devoted herself to writing and performing music whose goal is to help people awaken to their own dreams and visions and seeing them fulfilled.

All of this would make a fantastic story for a film – and if one is ever made about Karen and her Maestro, she’s already created the perfect soundtrack. She includes “Invocation” here as a way to summon one’s dreams and deepen one’s connections, all leading to the unabashed celebratory joy of “Unions” – one of the briefest pieces on the album (at 75 seconds) but also one of the most infectious and whimsical. Over the years. she has created guided musical meditations for The Maestro’s student s to help them find their true selves and purpose. Starlight Dreams includes one of her most hypnotic and lyrical piano meditations, “Meditation on a Moonlit Lake,” a piece that originally appeared on Journey to True Health.

Uniquely, the only words of guidance Karen provides for the rest of Starlight Dreams is that each piece “has the intention of telling stories of longing for and realizing your dreams.” Having lived on both sides of that reality – longing for years for the vision that finally emerges – she is the perfect spirit guide for this quest and realization process. The deeply introspective emotional journey is full of compelling mood swings that take the listener to different places in their hearts and souls, following the lush, gently flowing “Chanson Des Vents” with a jubilant awakening “On Angels Wings,” and finding an uplifting way through the darker tones of “The Journey” to dance even among the “Raindrops.”

Karen’s Starlight Dreams also include the ultra-romantic, sweetly old fashioned “Starlight Waltz,” a graceful sway along a gorgeous, sunswept “Promenade” and a revisit of the gentle, easy strolling “Autumn Amble” from Journey to True Love. Even though she is imparting the exquisite mysteries, longings and fulfillment of her own Starlight Dreams, it’s clear that Karen wants her dreams be your dreams, her passion be your passion and her awakenings to be your awakenings. Love is only love, after all, if you give it away.

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