Vivien in Conversation with Audrey Causilla – Journey to the Heart


Audrey Causilla

Journey to the Heart

 

Hello and welcome to The Schapera Show, where Viv and Neil explore this big adventure called Life. Our guest today is Audrey Causilla, a composer, vocal coach and devotional singer, who released an album called Piano Improvisations: Journey to the Heart, and we are going to speak to Audrey about this and a whole lot more!

 

 

 

You can listen to the interview and the entire Schapera Show here

Welcome, Audrey, thank you for coming on the show.

Audrey: Thank you for having me.

Vivien: Audrey, I know you have a lot to share with us, so let’s get right to it … OK? And let’s begin by you telling us a little more about yourself, because this is always such an important place to begin.

Audrey: Yes, Vivien, thanks, as you said, I am a Classical pianist, vocal coach, composer and devotional singer. My music spans from meditative piano music to devotional chant that aims to transport the soul to a place of transcendent clarity, peace and connection.

Vivien: Audrey, I just want to butt in here and say that you are definitely not exaggerating. The moment I began listening to Piano Improvisations, I was transported into what I call “the zone” and it was profound for me. It made me want to know a whole lot more about you – how your compositions could have such immediate impact.

Audrey: Oh, wow, thank you! Yes, I have performed in numerous solo, chamber music and art song recitals in the US and abroad. I received a Bachelors in Music at Peabody Conservatory and a Masters from Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. 

     I taught private piano and coached and performed with opera singers for 24 years, and was the Music Director at Center for Spiritual Living Greater Cincinnati for 8 years. I’m also a staff coach and accompanist at the Cincinnati Music Academy. I produced, hosted and performed in World Sound Healing Day events in Cincinnati for 4 years, and has done kirtan (mantra chant) events over the past 12 years.

      With the 2020 release of PIANO IMPROVISATIONS: Journey to The Heart, I entered into collaboration with Focused Life-Force Energy for the first time. The recordings were infused with the FLFE field for the listeners to experience the music plus a high-consciousness environment.

Vivien: Can you explain what you mean by the FLFE field?

Audrey: FLFE (Focused Life-Force Energy) is a consciousness technology and that activates a high-consciousness field/environment in your home or around your phone. The FLFE environment has been extensively researched and the benefits of spending time in it are numerous, including EMF mitigation, deeper meditations, better sleep and a personal rise in consciousness over time.

FLFE.net, and their podcast “Fields of Consciousness” – has lots of info about this. If you listen to Journey To The Heart, you can enjoy the experience of the music in a supportive high-consciousness bubble.

Vivien: Audrey, this sounds extraordinary to me, with the emphasis on “sound!” And it sounds like such a brilliant use of our advanced technologies. I’m sure we could, and should, have an interview on just that topic, but for today, I really want to focus on you, the composer, because as wonderful as technology may be, without humanity we are nothing. How old were you when you first played the piano?

Audrey: 9 years of age. I was bored with school and needed something else to do. My parents said ballet or piano, and after 2 weeks of ballet, piano it was. I did a group class at the school and the teacher said I needed individual attention. Across the backyard, there was a woman who taught piano. This was a stroke of grace. Her name was Sheila Vail.

By 11, I was playing for major iconic pianists like Leon Fleisher.

I had no conscious plan to become an improviser or composer, but in France (1995) I didn’t have much music with me and just started “sketching” friends on the piano – they would sit down, and I would create a melody that seemed to capture them.

When I returned home, my conservatory professor said “this is amazing, getting in touch with your language will help you connect with the composers’. “

Vivien: Hmmm, that’s pretty amazing! I’m not even sure what to say, so I’ll ask this: I wonder, do you play other musical instruments as well?

Audrey: Yes, the harmonium an Indian, accordion-like instrument.

Vivien: And, you say you do chanting – do you also sing, like with lyrics?

Audrey: Yes, in the mantra chant tradition you sing many different names of deities. I also write English lyrics that get woven into these songs at times. Mantras are holy names 99% of the time. There are recordings: I released a live Kirtan album called Mekala Kirtan Live available on Spotify and CD on my website.

This was for people to sing along with during the shutdown.

A piano piece as a sonic prayer.

Mostly recorded at Shine Yoga, Cincinnati.

Vivien: Wow! You’re opening my eyes to what’s all around me here in Cincinnati, or should I say ears? Audrey, can you tell me, what’s special to you about the piano as an instrument?

Audrey: It’s the sound. The sound rings and extends, it’s like a canvas –

Vivien: Aah, that’s why you call it “sketching.”

Audrey: Sketching also means “not crafted” my early term for “improvising”

The range from low to high, and the combination of things that you can do – it’s like the weather patterns. How many things need to happen for that to integrate just so!

Alongside my musical training as a child was an inner search for a personal connection with Spirit/Divine. In college, I encountered a pianist and friend who seemed to transmit light and love through her sound in a way that would bring me to tears instantly. There was some way that she was connecting to the masterworks that was beyond the composition itself. I didn’t realize that later I would explore surrendering in such a way with the sound I would make – with compositions I would perform, improvise and compose. (She also introduced me to the improvisations of Keith Jarrett and the spacious music of Arvo Part.)

Vivien: Is this “the energy” of music? What would you say?

Audrey: There’s a lot of levels to that. Music depends on how we receive it. I think I 100% believe that. Whether I’m listening to Beethoven, or listening to what’s happening in the moment, that’s what I’m listening for. When performing classics or songs I’ve written, I like to listen as though I’ve never heard the piece before. I want to be enthralled with what’s emerging and I want this for the audience. I play a composition like it’s the first time, even if I have played it for 30 years already, then it’s connected to my heart.

While in Cincinnati, I was exposed to the idea of sound healing by Jonathan Goldman’s CD’s, Deva Premal’s mantra music, crystal and Tibetan bowl musicians that would tour through town and later Krishna Das and Jai Uttal’s kirtan.  My 3-year internal mantra practice took flight when I heard mantras sung as a group at a call-and-response kirtan in town. After the loss of a dear friend who loved kirtan in 2010 (he was 34), singing mantra with others was a way to heal my heart. I formed my ensemble Mekala Music in 2012 and have been leading groups ever since.

Vivien: What about your CD, Piano Improvisations: Journey to the Heart? Can you tell us more about that specifically, including how people are responding?

Audrey: The piano CD has now sold all over the world, with listening feedback ranging from disappearance of road rage (in India!) to assistance in sleeping and meditating, and one person said that while listening during their recovery after colon cancer surgery, they experienced a total relief from pain. Dr. Gary Schwartz, a renowned scientist and researcher at University of Arizona plays them during every moment of his data analysis for how it assists his process.

Vivien: Is this in alignment with your intention?

Audrey: Yes!!! This is definitely an intention of Piano Meditations.

My calling is the exploration of sound for transformation. By entering deeply into the silence, I create music for the expansion and healing of the soul. I am offering channeled piano music intended to assist in opening the perceptions to integrate the mind, body and spirit. Its purpose is to support people in returning to their highest alignment, peace, joy and connection with the Divine. 

Vivien: So, when I listened to the CD, and it put me in an immediate trance state – this was your intention?

Audrey: Honestly, my intention was to make these tracks a sonic prayer, a calling for all assistance, for grace to flow to all beings. My intention was solely to be a conduit for whatever was needed. If I used that as a method, I don’t know if it would have worked.

Vivien: Audrey, just speaking to you gives me goosebumps, but what’s even more important is the effect that your compositions had on me. I think we should tell listeners how they can get this experience for themselves.

Audrey: Yes, my CD is available at my website, www.audreycausilla.com (CDs or downloads) or on iTunes, Bandcamp or Amazon.

And I recommend using headphones for a high quality, immersive experience.

Vivien: I can’t wait to talk to you more about this, Audrey, but we need to take a break now. Everyone, we are listening to our guest, Audrey Causilla, composer and vocal coach, who is sharing the most brilliant information with us about her work – and we will continue with this brilliance here on The Schapera Show after the break.

Commercial Break

Vivien: Hello and welcome back to The Schapera Show where Viv and Neil explore this big adventure called Life. Today we are interviewing Audrey Causilla, a composer, vocal coach and devotional singer, who released an album called Piano Improvisations: Journey to the Heart.

Audrey, when I listen to you speaking about your creations, I sense a modesty, or humbleness, is this correct? And can you explain?

Audrey: “Humble” is what you become when you have so many classical masterworks you aspire to learn.This is emotional to talk about. Like if you’re a doctor there are so many things to know and so many ways you can get it wrong, so this inspires both excitement and joy, and humbleness.

Vivien: Do you feel like you are a channel for this music?

Audrey: I loosely call myself a channel because I want to be as “not there” as possible. My heart is the filter and my hands are the color, and that’s all that is happening.

I do use my classical training – I try to stretch away from that while keeping the structure of a piece. I try not to go to the predictable place that my classical ear would want. There is a power in being just one note off from what is harmonious without any dissonance – stretch that, and there is a lot of energy there.

Vivien: Audrey, I’m fascinated by your process. What is the state of mind that you are in when you are composing the music and how do you remember what you composed?

Audrey: I don’t remember what I compose! I can listen to it and it’s like I didn’t make it. I can be in a massage, and hear my music, and it’s like a new journey for me.

I enter deep silence, heart openness, attention and playfulness. It’s like cooking. I do get images also – this is a strong dynamic.

Vivien: So, is this how the improvisations were created?

Audrey: The improvisations are the how and the compositions are the what. This is “shaping in real time.” I often start with very few notes, or even actually with silence, and then go one note at a time, one to another. I’m feeling into the relationship between the notes.

For Piano Meditations, before I played anything, I spoke an invocation out loud, saying that I ask for the music to flow, to support whatever all beings need to feel the love and support of their higher consciousness. Prayerful. That was held for the entire recording time. I didn’t know if I would get anything. I’ve never tried to record a whole album in one sitting before. It was a very surrendered experience. I just sat down and did this in one go. No edits and no restarts. I can share that after the first one was done, the engineer turned around, and he was moved to tears.

We needed something more vibrant for track number 2 so I called on the elementals. I just went with the energy. There were the oceans, the mountains – different inspirations, but nothing was premeditated – it was all spontaneous, in the moment.

And it all happened within 90 minutes. It was coming out like a stream. I didn’t leave the room until before the final track. That was to let my husband know: “I think there’s one more,” then I went back and made the last track, number 8, The Beloved, which is I think my favorite.

Vivien: Audrey, this is beyond a “Wow!” How did the titles come about?

Audrey: Let’s start with The Beloved. My engineer said: “Did you realize that you had part of 4 others in this last one?” After the journey you arrive in the center, in the heart. Inspired by the visual inspirations – the elementals, the ancients, the Sasquatch. There was also some eagle energy – eagle wings spread.

The titles come after the fact and fit the images that showed up during the track.

Vivien: Why is it called Journey to the Heart?

Audrey: Well, because it is a journey: Starts with The Beacon – the call, and then, with The Beloved, we return home.

Vivien: Audrey, I’m so impressed. You’re having such an impact on me – both your music and your words. I wonder if you can say something to all of us on a more general note – from your perspective, can you say what the Universe is asking us to notice at this time?

Audrey: I believe that the Universe is asking us to prioritize slowing down, experiencing from the heart and living from the heart as much as possible. Also, that things on the external are not as they seem, and learn to discern a deep sense of knowing and truth that resides within… from the micro level of what we perceive to be our existence to the wider stage of world events. Finally, that we each contain the Divine spark. In nurturing this, and our community, we can successfully ride the waves of uncertainty and collective anxiety and fear that surround us.

Vivien: Audrey, thank you! Let’s make sure that our listeners know how to find out more about you and especially, know how to access your CD.

Audrey: Yes, my album is available as a CD or download on my website, www.audreycausilla.com

And downloads are available on Bandcamp, iTunes, Amazon

And I recommend using headphones for the very best sound quality, although people enjoy it on all devices.

Vivien: Thank you, Audrey! How fantastic. I personally feel grateful to be blessed by your music. Everyone, you have been listening to Audrey Causilla here on The Schapera Show and when we come back after the break, Neil will be sharing his report from the Spirit Realm.