Some things in life turn out better than ever could have been expected.
“It just really made sense,” Dana Cunningham said regarding turning a recording of a concert at Stone Mountain Arts Center in Brownfield, Maine into her fourth album.
“Live at Stone Mountain Arts Center” was originally intended as an album exclusively for pianist Cunningham's fans as a way of fund-raising for her next studio album, but when she heard what she had it became clear it was special.
“It was just such a great capture and had gone so well,” Cunningham said. “The sound was so good and we just thought, 'Let's just make this a full fledged recording and put it out there.'"
The album, which also features cellist Max Dyer and Jeff Oster on horns, condenses the evening's two sets into just over an hour. Virtually all of the talk was removed from the album, only applause and one slightly audible "thank you" remain. There are nine pieces that haven't really been heard and three or four that have been previously recorded, but not with horn or cello.
“It was great fun because it was so good, surprisingly good because you never know what is going to happen,” Cunningham said. “We hadn't much time to rehearse prior, and some of the things we did we had never done before.”
The choice to record at Stone Mountain sprung from a long-time relationship with Carol Noonan, the founder of the arts center.
“Carol is so devoted and knows every facet of what makes everyone happy, and you feel that joy when you are there — that people are truly happy, having a good time," Cunningham said. “It is a beautiful venue, it is the right size, it is close to where I live.”
Cunningham and Noonan are teaming once again for an annual Christmas concert at the Little White Church in Eaton Saturday, Dec. 4, at 7:30 p.m. Although this show is sold out, Cunningham will be performing a second concert Sunday, Dec. 5, at 4 p.m.
"One of things people enjoy is that Carol and I are so different that we really have a lot of banter back and forth that people find humorous because we both tease each other,” Cunnigham said.
Dyer, who not only appears on the new live album but Cunningham's Christmas album, “Silent Night,” will be at both performances. The Sunday concert will also add flutist Julia Hendrickson and poet Marnie Cobbs to the mix.
“I think Carol's voice and the depth of my own music really invites people to a more contemplative place, so that they can pause,” Cunningham said. “That's one of the reasons I do what I do because I think that the culture is so fast and so chaotic externally that we need some support to balance that with our own internal quiet, so this program is a chance to center and get a little bit of calm inside before everything really starts to rush.”
Tickets for the Sunday concert are $20 and are available at White Birch Books, The Eaton Store and online at www.danacunningham.com. Advance tickets are requested, but tickets may also be available at the door. Cunningham's new album is available for purchase on her website.