Father Hemann releases new instrumental CD
By RENEE WEBB, Globe editor
When you hear the word oasis, soothing thoughts of a peaceful refuge or retreat come to mind.
Oasis is the title of a new CD recently released by Father David Hemann, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Ida Grove, Our Lady of Good Counsel in Holstein and St. Martin Church in Odebolt.
While Oasis is his seventh CD, it’s his first instrumental only release.
Father Hemann said there is a big call for “peaceful, spirit-filled, anointed instrumental music that puts you in the presence of God without the distraction of words.”
Once the priest had made up his mind to offer an instrumental collection, rather than come up with new melodies he opted to use the 10 songs from the Psalms of David CD that he released about 18 months ago.
“That CD was meant to help people pray in terms of the Psalms,” he said. “A lot of people love the Psalms and love it when I sing, but I had many people say it would be nice to have a recording of just the music – an instrumental.”
The vocals were removed and replaced with instruments.
“The instruments alternate in taking the ‘lead vocal,’” described Father David, who noted that the songs are in the same order as the Psalms of David. He said Oasis is meant to be a companion CD to Psalms of David.
The priest did not have to re-record his guitar parts and because all of the music had been transcribed, the musicians were able to come into the studio and follow the melody lines that were already written out.
“I also knew they were very good players so I told them that they didn’t have to stick to the exact notes,” he recalled. “They did some nice counter melodies and harmonies. They did a fabulous job.”
J.E. Van Horne, the recording engineer, called Oasis a “stellar” recording and said it is the best CD he has ever recorded.
“I think it will appeal to a wider audience,” the engineer said. “People from all over the country buy his albums but I think this will go into areas of people who aren’t as religiously inclined.”
Father Hemann said he also believes this CD will have a wider draw, in fact he views it as having universal appeal.
The instruments and musicians featured include Father David on classical guitar, Kimberly Beasley on French horn, Sean Conway on Irish whistles, Bob Jenkins on oboe, Kate E. Jones on cello and Barbara W. Lepke-Sims on harp.
He said the six instruments created a nice ensemble that interacted well with one another.
“There was a nice balance between the instruments so they weave in and out,” Father David said. “All Instruments used are real orchestral instruments without any fabricated or synthesized sounds.”
Four of the six had played on the original Psalms of David CD and two – the oboe and French horn – were added for Oasis.
Sean Conway: Father David said the whistle permeates the whole project. Conway, an accomplished musician, was a mentor for The Chieftain’s – a world-renown Irish musical group. At age 15, Conway was named the best whistle player for the County of Innes.
“Only an Irishman can play like he can,” said Father David.
Barbara W. Lepke-Sims: Father David pointed out that he happened to meet the harp player when he was on the shuttle bus from the airport in Phoenix, on his way to do a parish mission. A woman noticed his guitar and asked what type of music he did. After he told her it was spiritual music, she said she always wanted to play harp on a Christian album.
“She listened to some of my songs and she had a tear,” said Father David. “She said she really loved my music. I kept her address and a year later I called her. She flew out and she played (for the Psalms of David).”
He remembers questioning the Arizona pastor about why he couldn’t be picked up from the airports, but now he knows. “The Lord is orchestrating all of this,” he added.
Lepke-Sims has played for both Republican and Democratic presidential banquets and the Denver Symphony Orchestra.
Kate Jones: She has a bachelor’s degree in Music from Loyola University New Orleans. She has recorded for and performed live on electric cello with various local bands, including the Black Squirrels and Turtle Moon.
She has also recorded for "Madeline in Tahiti," which is an animated adaptation of the children's book series. Jones has played for many weddings and receptions with the Metropolitan String Quartet and she serves on the Board of Directors of the Omaha Area Youth Orchestras.
Kimberly Beasley: She plays for the United States Air Force Heartland of America Band at Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha.
Bob Jenkins: He taught in District 66 in Omaha for 28 years. He has played on some Mannheim Steamroller recordings, plays with the Omaha Symphony and has a master’s degree from Northwestern University.
Van Horne, who recruited much of the talent for this CD, called the music “gorgeous” and said the musicians nailed their parts. “I think the melodies are beautiful and then you add great players on top of it.”
Even after recording it and mixing it for hours, he has never gotten tired of it. He described the music as gentle, relaxing and pretty with a great combination of instruments.
“St. Augustine calls God beauty ever-ancient, ever-new,” he said. “God doesn’t get beauty from somewhere, God is beauty.”
In the inside cover, Father Hemann noted that Dostoyevsky once said beauty will save the world.
“It’s my hope that all who listen to this album are drawn into the experience of beauty and in that experience they trace it to the source of all beauty – God,” Father Hemann said. “When we experience God, our hearts and lives are changed for the better and so is our world.”
Father Hemann is donating profits of this CD to Sacred Heart Church in Ida Grove for the new church and parish hall that is currently being built. The suggested donation for the CD is $20. Make checks out to Sacred Heart Church, PO Box 244, Ida Grove, Iowa 51445. The CD is available on the web - www.fatherdavid.net.