Wayne Bethanis’ new release is called Listen. The album is a goldmine of magnificent melodies and well-crafted arrangements. As indicated by the title, Listen. demands your undivided attention – but when you tune in, you are instantly taken on a musical journey of a lifetime. Each of the 11 pieces offers grand panoramas and thrilling narratives. Listen. is Wayne Bethanis’ best album to date and a milestone in modern New Age music history.
Wayne Bethanis is a best-selling New Age Piano recording artist, a television and radio host, and has a Ph.D. in Music. Since early childhood, Wayne has been known for his talent at the piano and engaging personality both onstage and through his original music. As a lecturer and teacher, Wayne has published several articles on the arts, lectures extensively, and trained students to compete and win internationally. His dissertation on Mozart was chosen to be housed at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria. He has released the following albums: Remember the Rain (2016), Hero’s Lullaby (2017), Measures of Light (2021) – and today’s topic, Listen. His most recent radio show is Piano Garden on One World Music Radio.
The Four Corners
The album opener is called The Four Corners. It is a brilliant and very stimulating piece. In the one-sheet, Bethanis writes: “The Pineal Gland, or Seat of the Soul, is located at the Center of the four quadrants of the brain. Our intuition, clairvoyance and Other-dimensional talents are nestled here.” Wow, what an opening! The deeply inspiring piano melody and arrangement, which features Far-Eastern instruments only, is terrific. Whatever you are doing while listening, especially if it is creative work or studying, is off to a good start. The Four Corners sets the mood for everything that follows and makes sure that the listener is listening; it is a genuine New Age music jewel!
“The desire to fly is an idea handed down to us by our ancestors who looked enviously on the birds soaring freely through space,” Wilbur Wright said. Reading about the Wright brothers, and listening to Bethanis’ Orville & Wilbur (The Right to Fly), I’m impressed by how the piece captures the brothers’ intent to fly, without knowing if they would land safely again; It was their right to fly. Flying is also a metaphor on more down-to-earth endeavors; Just because everyone says that it can’t be done, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try. Orville & Wilbur (The Right to Fly) is, in sum, a magnificent piece! I love its speed, orchestral arrangement and the many twists and turns – and center stage, Bethanis’ piano. The playful atmosphere makes you feel that everything is going your way. One word; Bravo!
Next out is Tender Years. It is that kind of melody that you didn’t know that you were searching for, but suddenly it is there and you cannot do anything else but put it on replay all day; Its gentle and beautiful nature is irresistible. “This song is for that moment in life when you realize you will always be the exploring child; even though you’re forced to engage with the immediacy of life, you can always access the eternal, and rediscover that your true identity is yours for the taking when you follow your passions and curiosities,” says Bethanis. It is so true – and the melody’s effect is something you can sense right away; It puts your curiosity on high gear and makes you see the world with fresh eyes. Also, notice the incredible conclusion. It is both heartwarming and inspiring – a winning combination indeed!
Meeting a person you look up to and want to be like can be hard, especially if that person doesn’t care about you. It is even worse if that person is a bully. That Popular Boy in My English Class manages something incredible; to communicate all those feelings; playfulness, admiration and joy – but also confusion and bewilderment. What do I really feel? It is possible to like and dislike a person at the same time. That Popular Boy in My English Class is a phenomenal piece that shows Bethanis’ ability to create interesting and thought-provoking music.
Lonely Is the Normal Heart
When Lonely Is the Normal Heart comes on, a sense of calm sinks in; The breathtakingly beautiful melody instantly finds its way to the listener’s heart. It is a wise piece, filled with the knowledge that you have to love yourself to be able to love someone else. The orchestral arrangement is magnificent, especially the flute part. The piano sounds divine. The loving atmosphere continues on Marry Me. It is a joyous, neo classical piece with trumpet. The build up and conclusion is, simply put, spectacular! Marry Me is not just about marriage, but about all kinds of endeavors where you follow your heart.
Each piece on Listen. stands well on its own feet. Indeed, there are 11 tracks here worth of a single release, but no track has more attitude than The Bexley Bop! The fast melody, jazzy vibe and feel-good atmosphere makes it impossible to sit still while listening. Dedicated to Bexley, Ohio, the piece is about overcoming a broken heart and moving on. Check out The Bexley Bop! video; it is out-of-this-world amazing:
What would the solo piano genre be without Jim Brickman? Brick by Brick is a melodic jewel dedicated to the master himself. As Bethanis puts it: “This is a dedication song to Jim Brickman whose career greatly encouraged me to follow my passion as a contemporary pianist/composer. Thank you, Jim, for carving a path and giving me a map to follow.” Indeed, we have all a lot to thank Mr. Brickman for.
If you know Wayne Bethanis’ other releases, you already know that his music is rich with historical references. Named after the prominent Emperor Hadrian, Hadrian’s Dilemma tells about a love affair. Antenuous, a younger man renowned for his beauty, was invited by the Emperor to tour the Roman Empire. In AD 130, Antenuous tragically drowned in the river Nile and Hadrian was devastated. Bethanis’ piece makes the listener feel Hadrian’s deep sorrow while trying to keep Rome strong and secure. If you have read the story about the Roman Empire around year 117 to 138 A.D., you know it was difficult.
Francesca’s Affair is a heart-stirring piece about a fictitious character who, after receiving a Tarot card called The Three of Wands, travels to Spain to experience romance and deep passion. The melody conveys the narrative and emotions splendidly; Francesca’s Affair is like a well-written romance novel. I put it on reply, unwilling to let go of its rose red, passionate atmosphere. The orchestral arrangement accompanies the piano perfectly.
The album closer is the epic Egypt and the Sea People. It tells the true story of the mysterious war tribes who attacked Egypt at the fall of the Bronze age. The listener can sense both the drama and the Pharaoh’s willingness to fight to the bitter end. Listen to the track while reading up on the history of this time, and you will experience the full power of Bethanis’ storytelling.
In conclusion: Albert Einstein said: “Don’t listen to the person who has the answers; listen to the person who has the questions.” I believe that is true for Wayne Bethanis’ Listen. too. It is not an album filled with answers. No, Bethanis’ 11 pieces make us reflect over a variety of topics, from processes deep in our brain, ancient Egypt, to love and loss. Listen. is a major accomplishment, and a must for anyone looking for quality New Age music.
With music as rich and entertaining as this, it is easy to focus only on the meaning and expression. But also notice what a magnificent pianist Bethanis is. In my book he is a top three pianist on the New Age music scene today, and a terrific composer too. I must also mention Jared Kraft and Marcus Sjowall, who made the orchestral arrangement – and engineer Julian Shaw-Tayler. They all did their part in making Listen. into a one-of-a-kind release.
It is good advice to talk less and listen more. Wayne Bethanis’ new album shows you why. Listen. and you shall be rewarded.
For more information and music samples, visit waynebethanis.com