Composers are often tasked with creating from a void, an emptiness. The blank page is an easel. The parts of a structure of a piece of music – melody, accompaniment, line, harmony, tension, and release – must take shape to reach the listener’s ear. Sometimes, instead of starting with an empty sheet of staff paper, a composer creates something which is pollinated by another source. Perhaps it is a folk song, a poem, a melody, or an even larger work, such as a full-length opera. New works are then realized. In the case of this two-cd set, an East South African folk tune receives new life as a romantic piano ballade. A sonnet of Petrarch resurfaces centuries later as a dramatic declaration of love, through a solo piano work. The repertoire on these discs traces Kristin Ditlow’s own growth as a pianist and musician. Each work marks a chapter of her development and artistry to the present. The song transcriptions are pieces that have been played countless times with vocal partners: the operatic works are works that she has coached or conducted. Her passionate pursuit of travel is also a thread which weaves throughout the discs: the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor spiritual arrangements are works that she became acquainted with as a high school choral accompanist: meeting her husband while on tour in China in 2012: the Mongolian Shepherd Song is her arrangement of a traditional folksong from the Chinese Mongolian community, a work introduced to her by her husband in China originally for erhu and pipa (traditional Chinese instruments) accompaniment but transcribed for violin and piano. Kristin Ditlow has spent five summers performing, teaching, and coaching in Hungary and the Bartók selections all harken back to those times in the Hungarian countryside. Pianist, coach and conductor Dr. Kristin Ditlow dedicates her musical career to collaboration and connection. She has been seen in concert throughout North America, Mainland China, and Western Europe as a soloist, collaborative pianist, and conductor. The set of music pieces in this album is representative of her “Passages” in her career.

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