International recording/performing artist, Celeste Howard Ray performs on both coasts of the United States; she has toured Europe and Australia, gaining audiences from Pete Seeger to the Governor of QLD, Australia. She has taken the ancient-styled Bowed Psaltery to an expert level featuring double bowing. Celeste Ray, a native of Los Angeles, began her musical studies at age six. Positively influenced by parents who played classical piano and flamenco guitar, Celeste's imagination was captivated by the piano early in life. As a teenager firmly trained in classical music, she began exploring contemporary composers Bill Evans, Oregon and Pat Metheny. Her current influences include Loreena McKennitt, Bill Whelan (Riverdance)and Enya. Celeste composed her first piece at age 14. Celeste is the founding member of 'The Four Celtic Voices Show'. Managed by CMI Entertainment, Inc., 'Four Celtic Voices' performs regionally on the East Coast at Universities, Colleges and Performing Arts Centers. Performing on the Double Bowed Psaltery was quoted by Los Angeles Times critic Josef Woodard as 'ethereal and other-worldly..her voice is a warm and pleasant instrument'. Ray's diverse and eclectic background includes a tour of Australia for six months during 1997, where she was commissioned to compose a musical scheduled for national release. Her tour also included performances on the bowed psaltery for Australia's national radio station (ABC), and the Government House. Ms. Ray's first internationally released CD, 'Place With a View,' features a lineup of impressive guest artists including Steve Kujala (Chick Corea) and Alex Acuna (Weather Report). Ms. Ray plays piano, handles all the writing, and introduces her unique vocal style, which impressed long time mentor Paul McCandless. 'Celeste's melodic compositions, and especially her vocals, give the music a sound which is instantly identifiable..I am impressed!' said McCandless. Paul McCandless is featured on 'The Gateway,' Celeste's second internationally released CD. Inspired by Arthurian and Celtic legends, 'The Gateway' weaves mytho-poetic stories within a contemporary musical landscape. It creates an eclectic combination of rich Celtic tones and textures from traditional instruments such as flute, recorder, oboe and cello with the sound of world instruments such as dumbek, bohdran, and pennywhistles. Celeste Ray's dynamic compositions feature her lyric vocal styling along with impressive piano and psaltery arrangements and performances. Celeste Ray's third album 'Celtic Blessings,' was made possible by a grant received from the Arts Alliance of Ventura County. 'Celtic Blessings,' inspired by ancient Celtic poems, reflects both original and traditional melodies illuminating the Celtic heart and soul. Her journeys throughout the UK and Ireland provided a wellspring of sacred sources for her imagination to draw upon. The Los Angeles Times describes her latest CD as 'a sound at once fresh and other-worldly...her distinct calling card is her skill with the relatively obscure bowed psaltery and her voice is a warm and pleasant instrument.' Celeste currently performs Early Music Workshops and concerts in LA and NYC areas and focuses her time between teaching, composing and performing this rich heritage of Irish, Celtic and World music. Recipient of a grant from the Ventura Arts Alliance, this CD of Celtic Blessings has been made possible. Blessing of the Elements and Blessing for Setting Forth were written by St. Patrick set to original music by Celeste Howard.
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