Alphabet Streets Resident Releases World Music Album

By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief

After more than a year-long spiritual and global journey studying the shared themes of peace and oneness of mankind taught by Buddha, Lao Tzu, Jesus, Mohammed, the Sikhs, the Hindu, the Jews, the Cheyenne, the Kikuyu and the Baha’i, film and television composer—and Alphabet Streets resident—Steven Chesne released “Sapient: A Cantata of Peace.”

“It’s sort of the culmination of things that had been brewing in my mind for decades,” Chesne said of the album. “Back when I was a child—I grew up in Santa Monica—I was always curious about culture and religion and things that are common to all people, the unifying factors among all people.

Chesne, a Palisadian of more than 20 years, added that he himself grew up Jewish, surrounded by religion.

“I was a really weird kid,” Chesne shared, “and I was interested in comparing these commonalities.”

Then, as an adult, Chesne entered the world of music.

“I used to write these symphonies,” he said, “and was fascinated with counter point. There were elements going against each other, but picking out with your ear different things going on simultaneously.”

He compared it to the human race.

“Things are getting so fragmented, it almost feels like the human race of the American culture are broken at the moment,” Chesne shared. “[I’ve been] looking for things that draw us together.”

Each track of “Sapient” is a musical interpretation of a tradition’s words of peace and oneness, accompanied by music and vocals influenced by each culture, language and place in world history.

Photos courtesy of Steven Chesne

To prepare to make the album, Chesne met with historians, translators, clergy, monks, gurus, rabbis, imams, international scholars, linguists and more.

“It’s interesting because it involved people from all over the world,” Chesne shared. “I was committed to doing it right, I wanted to avoid any criticisms of not being authentic or true to the original. I wanted to find people representative from each culture to study with as well as to do the vocals.”

Living in Los Angeles, Chesne said he was able to find about 80 percent of everything he needed locally. The process took months and months, with many Skype calls.

“The composing part didn’t take that long, it went fairly quickly,” Chesne said. “But in order to make all the parts fit together like a puzzle—10 cultures together—in order to plan that, that took months … they work as standalone songs, but also work together.”

“Sapient: A Cantata of Peace” is a break from other works that Chesne has done, including composing the scores to more than 300 primetime television shows, including “Batman: The Animated Series,” “Family Matters” and “Hanging with Mr. Cooper.” His orchestral concert work includes four symphonies, two concertos, two orchestral suites and two tone-poems.

“It’s been a long journey in music,” Chense said of his 30-year career.

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