• Jonathan Widran

JILL HALEY, The Forests and Shores of Acadia

From her 2010 release Glacier Soundscapes through The Winds of Badlands (2019) and The Canyons and Mesas of Bandelier (2021), no instrumental artist this century has musically chronicled the visual splendor, majestic landscapes, intricate natural details and precious eco-systems of our National Parks as powerfully and impactfully as multi-instrumentalist Jill Haley.

While most artists who create thematic works based on these stunning locales offer meaningful impressions, the composer, pianist and oboe and English horn performer has had the unique opportunity to be Artist in Residence, which allows her to immerse herself for deeper and more expansive yet intricate inspiration. One of the unique aspects of the unique artistry she brings to her National Park collections is that she always focuses on a singular aspect (or sometimes two) of the park’s natural beauty.


Her latest is no exception, dedicated to musical reflections and explorations of The Forests and Shores of Acadia – a 47,000 Atlantic coast recreation area primarily on Maine’s Mount Desert Island, featuring a landscape marked by woodland, rocky beaches and glacier-generated granite peaks. Using her intuitively melodic piano and woodwinds as a foundation, and creating sparkling and meaningful conversations along the trail with guitarist/bassist David Cullen and cellist Graham Cullen, Jill artfully weaves a thoughtful, soulful narrative alternating pieces sharing her haunting and reflective moods (‘Treading Softly,” “Witch Hole Pond,” “In The Maine Woods”) with more lighthearted and lyrical – sometimes even whimsical – moments that find her exulting in the joy of lush, open spaces (the piano/oboe duet “Sundrenched Waves,” the acoustic guitar/oboe dance “Bursts of Color,” the sunswept, hypnotic piano/cello romp “Compass Harbor.”


Jill notes that while in Acadia, she became aware that all five senses were fully engaged whether she was eating wild blueberries (the dreamy, sensual opener “Fog on Blueberry Hill”), walking on a soft forest carpet (the hypnotic solo piano ballad “Treading Softly”) or hearing the waves lap the shoreline (the gently graceful “Incoming Tides,” a piano/oboe piece she introduces with an actual recording of those waves). The amazing thing about Jill’s thoughtful titles is that they always spark a longing to be with her in those physical locations, creating mental imagery we can ponder as we let her insightful and glorious tunes carry our hearts away.