Confucius said that: “When music and courtesy are better understood and appreciated, there will be no war.” Listening to Merrill Collins’ and Kimberly Haynes’ “Every Man, Woman and Child – Yoga Flow Suite,” I feel 100 % certain that this 2 500 year old quote is true. Music is the only universal language, it is a key to peace. Simply by listening we can receive a message of love, hope, and community. Celebrate UN’s International Day of Peace with this wonderful and unique suite of music!
Merrill Collins attended Ithaca College School of Music and Humboldt State University where she completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Piano, with a minor in composition. Merrill then completed a Master’s of Music Degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music on a full scholarship. Her music label is called Spiraling Music. You can see a comprehensive list of her music on CD Baby, the most recent being the Gregorian chants album “Sincero” (2018).
This episode of Chill Guru is dedicated to Merrill Collins & the Yoga Flow Suite:
“Every Man, Woman and Child” is a musical presentation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This year, Spiraling Music has released a dozen new improvisations on the original ballad, which was the first grassroots expression of the UDHR ever performed for the UN (1987). More recently, the chant version won a Global Peace Song Award in 2016.
Om Mani Padme Hum
The opening of “Yoga Flow Suite” – “Om Mani Padme” – is very welcoming. Piano, bass and light percussion great us like an old friend. Another thing that you’ll notice right away is the rhythm; this is music that makes it very hard to sit still! You’ll feel it in every fiber of you body. Thankfully, there’s an included manual showing the choreography of the “Every Man, Woman and Child” dance. Invite some friends and join the fun!
I will, however, not reduce “Yoga Flow Suite” to dance music only. Before you hit play, you might think: “Wow, this song is almost 20 minutes – that’s a LONG song!” But a few minutes into “Om Mani Padme Hum”, you’ll find yourself thanking Merrill Collins and her fellow artists that they have given us enough time to really appreciate this delightful and complex piece of music. There are so many layers of sound; the almost hypnotic rhythm, Kimberly Haynes’ magnificent vocal and, on center stage, the piano. I must also mention cellist Maksim Velichkin and flutist Laura Halladay. I love how the song evolves and takes a life of its own, yet the theme is always there. It is a truly powerful piece of music!
After “Om Mani Padme Hum”, don’t be surprised if you feel like cooling down. Thankfully, “Yoga Flow II: Ambient Journey” will do the trick. Here Merrill is joined by very talented David Vito Gregoli on the sitar. I love the richness of the soundscape; it is so deep, so massive. It is a space to explore and appreciate. The piano is playing from somewhere far away, while the sitar feels close.
In the past I have often pointed out how colorful Merrill Collins’ music is. And wow, “Yoga Flow Suite” is a genuine musical fireworks! It is as if the cover artwork comes to life in the music; The strong and vivid colors of the orient. Beautiful – and remarkable – at the same time.
Yoga Flow III – We the People
“We the People” contains lyrics by Merrill Collins, composed to commemorate human rights (you can read the original lyrics here). I guess it is not wrong to say that the heart and soul of this project is to be found in this song. It contains a deep love for humankind and what we can accomplish if “every man, woman and child” unite in peace and act together.
“We the People” is a worthy conclusion to the “Yoga Suite”, with flute, cello, Kimberly’s vocal, Merril’s piano, and light percussion. I must mention the sound design; I’m very impressed by the many layers of sound, and how interesting and complex this soundscape is. You can literally spend your day listening to it and still be amazed by the many details and how the song developes. It is beautiful from start to finish.
In conclusion: In an age dominated by news on pollution, wars and natural disasters, a music project like “Every Man, Woman and Child – Yoga Flow Suite” brings hope. It is important to show the leaders of the world, through a forum like the UN, the power of music. When people come together to dance and celebrate peace, magic happens. Even if you cannot participate on a Peace Day Party, this piece of music will transport your soul to such an event. If that is not magic, I don’t know what is.
Score: 95/100 – See our scoring policy
Visit spiralingmusic.com to learn more about this fascinating project!
Also, to find a Peace Day event close to your home – see internationaldayofpeace.org