An unprecedented musical celebration of the sounds and spirit of Newfoundland
For her second recording on the Analekta label, On the Rock, superstar cellist and five-time Juno Award winner Ofra Harnoy was inspired to celebrate the sounds and spirit of Newfoundland. Upon visiting "The Rock" in the summer of 2018, the cellist immediately fell in love with the place and its people. "The more I explore this beautiful island and get to know the people, food, and the culture, the more I feel Newfoundland becoming a part of me. Through these songs I can really express the wonderful connection I have with my new home," says Harnoy.
Her husband, Mike Herriott, multi-instrumentalist, arranger and co-producer of the album, adds "With the guidance and contribution of Bob Hallett, we were able to compile a selection of songs, jigs, and reels that Ofra felt she really connected with and that told a story of what she has come to know and love about the province."
The new album features an array of special guests, including Alan Doyle, formerly of the iconic Canadian band Great Big Sea, in a new version of the classic St. John's Waltz by Ron Hynes, Newfoundland's unofficial poet laureate. This song speaks of a simpler time, when foreign fishing boats still filled the harbour, Portuguese sailors played soccer in the piers, and a night spent waltzing in the bars was as much as anyone could ask. Intrigued and excited by Harnoy's passion to combine her world of classical music with Newfoundland traditional songs, Doyle says, "I could not be happier to sing St. John's Waltz with Ofra and in a completely new musical environment."
The album also includes beloved traditional Newfoundland songs like an elegantly jazz-tinged version of She's Like the Swallow and the reel Harbour Buffett Double, with Harnoy forming a classic kitchen-party band with fiddler Kendel Carson. Wayne Chaulk's Saltwater Joys, an ode to the simpler outport life known to many Atlantic Canadians, features vocals by Ofra's daughter, Amanda Cash. Fergus O'Byrne is a special guest on vocals for the popular The Cliffs of Baccalieu and on banjo for the peaceful Green Shores of Fogo. The haunting melody of Petty Harbour Bait Skiff and its poignant tale of death on the sea features St. John's jazz chanteuse Heather Bambrick – and the whole rowdy gang gathers at the pub for the traditional mainstay Mussels in the Corner.
With Ofra Harnoy's cello at the forefront, the result is a magnificently vibrant and unprecedented musical celebration of the rich musical heritage of Newfoundland.