New Music Video “Carol of the Bells”

Here is my newest music video for my arrangement of “Carol of the Bells”, from my new Christmas album¬†Winter Symphony. I hope that if you enjoy it, you will share it on Facebook and any other social media to get the word out. ¬†Thank you!

New Music Video – “Alleluia”

I’m so happy to present you with my newest music video. This is “Alleluia”, an original piece by me featured on my new Christmas album “Winter Symphony”. Featuring soloist Felicia Farerre, the Ensign Chorus, players from the Utah Symphony and Salt Lake City Pops Orchestra.

Also starring Carolynne May Guinup as the runaway teen, and Garren Pocock as the little shepherd boy.  Directed by Ryan K. McNeal, cinematography by Tel Stewart (The Piano Guys). I hope you enjoy!

Music Video UPDATE

A lot of people have been asking me when they can expect to see the music videos that I’ve filmed over the past couple of months. I finally have an update and so I wanted to share…

34“Requiem For a Dream” is going to be finished in January 2013 (not December as previously thought). For awesome reasons though. Ryan (the director), and Alex (the editor) have a lot of amazing footage that they’ve been going through – that was filmed on a top notch camera by the way. ¬†They are also doing some special effects with some of the shots and it is taking some fine-tuning and a lot of hours. ¬†But in the end, all the hard long hours will be worth it because it’s going to be a standout video and one worth waiting for.

333219_10152062364610438_1595118961_o“Moonlight” (my collab with Viktoria Tocca) possibly the end of December. ¬†We started shooting this video at the end of the summer, and due to a lot of people involved and various schedules (mine included), it’s taken quite a while to finish filming all of the scenes that were needed. ¬†They are still fine tuning the editing and making sure they have all of the shots needed to go with the storyline of the video. ¬†I’m just grateful that I have been able to work with such talented people who really take care in their work to be sure the final product is as best as possible.

By the way, the song is now available for download.  You can find it on all the regular hookups like Amazon, iTunes, Cdbaby and more.

616593_10151133194391689_1095713157_o“Illumination” – And last but not least, I’m very excited to tell you that plans are underway to film a video for my song “Illumination” with the Evergreen Philharmonic. I’m actually performing with this orchestra next week, but after the new year I will go back and we will film an official music video with the orchestra. ¬†We’re still in the planning/brainstorming phase of this project, but I can tell you it will be beautiful.

So it’s looking like 2013 will be my year for music videos. Stay tuned…

Requiem For a Dream (Music Video): Behind the Scenes

I just completed a three-day film shoot for my official debut music video, for the song “Requiem For a Dream”. ¬†This song is track #14 from my new album Illumination, and it is my rendition of the popular soundtrack piece by Clint Mansell.

The whole experience was just very positive for me – and I feel so lucky to have been able to work with all of the talented people that I did on this project. ¬†Ryan K. McNeal (writer/director for “Minuet”) came up with the concept for the video, based on a quote by Dante Alighieri – “Beauty awakens the soul to act.” from his Divine Comedy.

Ryan outlined the concept in five movements:

Mov 1:  The Gates of Hell

Mov 2: Inferno

Mov 3: Purgatorio

Mov 4: Ascension

Mov 5: Paradiso/Heaven/Full Enlightenment

FINDING A PIANO:  The Almost Impossible Mission

You would think that finding a piano in Los Angeles would be pretty easy right?

Think again.

It took an enormous amount of time to find a piano for this shoot. ¬† Being that we didn’t have a very large budget for this video, we initially tried to see what we could get for free or on trade. ¬†That route quickly met a dead end.

Next, we started looking into piano stores – because usually stores have recital halls. ¬†Most of the stores we spoke with either did not have the availability to¬†accommodate¬†a film crew, or their recital halls were not, um, “pretty” enough to look good on film.

We did end up finding Kassimoff’s Pianos in Hollywood, who agreed to let us shoot in their store. They are the Bluthner piano dearlership (one of the only ones in America), and were very kind and hospitable. ¬†However, once they realized that we would not actually be recording live audio for the video, they had to back out due to a conflict of interest (my album was recorded using a Fazioli, and they did not want a Fazioli sound dubbed over their Bluthner pianos).

Understandable.  But yet again, back to square one.

I literally contacted every piano store in the LA area, as well as every concert hall, night club, or restaurant with a grand piano. ¬†Most people did not return my emails, and the ones who did wanted too much money. I even put an ad out on LA Craigslist, as well as the user forums on the LA chapter NARAS board (Recording Academy). ¬†It seemed that as soon as people heard the word “film” or “video shoot”, the cost went WAY up.

A week before the shoot, I found this odd church south of LA called “The Onion”, where the inside was circular with these cool lights. ¬†They had a grand piano, and I had it arranged to film there. ¬†Then when I asked if we could move the piano (which was right up against a wall) into the center of the room, they said “Oh no, the piano NEVER moves.”

Strike out, again.

It was only a few days before the shoot, and Ryan and I were really stressing about where we were going to find a piano at.  Ryan had been scouring Craigslist for a free or cheap piano as well. We had found a 6 foot grand that someone wanted to give away to a non-profit group, but the paperwork to take it off their hands would have taken longer than we had.  We found another upright grand on Craiglist, but when Ryan went to go take a look at it he found that the majority of the keys stuck and could not play.

I could go on and on about the various pianos we¬†thought¬†we found, and then didn’t – including the rock star I met (friend of a friend) who offered his 9 foot Young Chang piano that was in storage (that didn’t work out either).

Two days before the film shoot, I was to meet up with fellow composer Glen Gabriel from Sweden¬†(who did most of the beats and additional orchestration on my album). ¬†I asked him if he was game to come with me to Kassimoff’s Pianos to talk with them. He was….so off we went to schmooze some piano stores…

I had a slight hope in my mind that even though Kassimoff’s pianos would not let us film on their Bluthner pianos, that perhaps they might just have another brand of piano in the store we could possibly use. ¬† And I also promised Helga (the 80 year old store owner) that I would stop by for a visit to come play their beautiful pianos. Afterall, I had never played on a Bluthner before.

Glen and I spent three hours at Kassimoff’s talking with the lovely store owners. ¬†They were such kind people – all the way here from Germany and even had a quaint little home in the back of their shop. ¬†Kyril offered us German cookies and cranberry juice, and told us all the stories of the people they had sold Bluthner pianos to over the last 50 years (their wall was full of celebrity photos, including some presidents of the United States).

 I also got to play a very interesting 9 foot Bluthner that was hand-picked by Marvin Hamlesch himself (see photo below).

At the conclusion of our wonderful visit, Helga was kind enough to allow me to use the ONE and only grand piano in their store that was not a Bluthner. It was a little 6 foot Steinway grand.  And for a discounted price, they delivered the Steinway Friday morning to our video shoot at the soundstage.

I have to say, once we finally had that piano, a HUGE stress was lifted from all of us.

And bonus perks – Helga introduced Glen to a very famous Swedish musician on the phone while we were there in the store. ¬†The next Glen told me “I didn’t realize who he was!!! ¬†Oh my gosh he’s famous in my country! I’m totally calling him again this week.”

THE PIANO PERFORMANCE SHOOT – Friday, Nov 16, 2012

So, Friday came and we all met at a soundstage in Korea Town in Los Angeles.  Ryan happened to find this independent owner who rented his stage out to indie filmmakers for a screaming deal.

Of course, first we had to get that piano unloaded and all set up…

Next, Noelle (my makeup artist) and I headed to the dressing room for hair and makeup. ¬†Not complaining, but the morning came particularly early since we had all been out late the night before for the Hollywood Music in Media Awards. ¬†But since our film “Minuet” actually WON the award, we were all in high spirits (the crew doing my music video was the same crew that filmed Minuet).

Yes here I am in all my natural make-up free glory…

While Noelle and I were doing hair and makeup, the crew was getting the Steinway set up on the white screen…


Then for the rest of the day we filmed my performance shots, until about 5:00 pm…

I hadn’t eaten since like 7:30 a.m., but I didn’t want to risk spilling on my dress and so I refused to eat until we finished filming my scenes. ¬†When we were finally done, I don’t think I have ever eaten a turkey sandwich so fast in all my life.

Here is the dress that I wore for the piano scenes – it was absolutely gorgeous and perfect for what we were trying to do with the fan blowing on me, and creating this ethereal scene. Though we really had to pin me into that thing! ¬†Just to make sure sleeves weren’t coming down, or things weren’t poking out – I think we used like 20 safety pins on me.

Here are some more shots from the piano scenes…

Meanwhile I was getting my piano scenes out of the way, our beautiful dancer Ivorie Jenkins was getting her makeup done in preparation for her dancing scenes…

I finally finished up my final scene and was allowed to put comfy clothes back on. ¬†Noelle made the comment to me, “You are either super dressed up, or super casual. There is never any in-between for you is there?”

She’s right. ¬†I’m either in a ballgown or sweat pants. ¬†That is how I roll.

Here’s me totally content because a) I’m in my comfy outfit, and b) I finally have food in my tummy.

I was able to sit and relax and watch Ivorie as they filmed some of her dance sequence on the black screen.  She is just one of the most graceful dances I have ever seen. She most recently finished up dancing for Cirque de Soleil in Las Vegas.

Will, Noelle, and I left the film shoot to go back to our hotel to get a decent night’s sleep, knowing that we had to be up and ready to head to Joshua Tree National Park by 5:30 a.m. the next morning.

Once we got to the park, we checked into a Motel.  Funny part about this is we were worried we would not be able to find a motel so early in the day since check-in is usually not until the afternoon.

However, they let us check in early – and this was after they said they had no rooms available.

I was a bit confused, so I asked my husband what type of miracle did he pull to get them to allow us to have a room and so early in the day?

He replied, “I just told them that a rock star was here to film her music video in the park and they agreed to let us have an early room.”

I busted up laughing. Rock star? Um, sure why not.  Wrong genre but whatever.

As soon as we got our room, Noelle, Ivorie, and I began hair and makeup all over again – this time for the desert scenes.

Ivorie had some very intense “Swan Lake” makeup going on for her dance scenes that day…

As for me, I had a more dramatic look since I was doing a black dress for the desert shots (the video was filmed in black and white, so everything we did was for contrasting purposes).

By the time we found our location in the park and got set up and ready to go, we only had like an hour of light before the sun went down. ¬†Jackson (the videographer) wanted to get some cool backlit shots of me before the sun went down…

The hardest part about shooting out in the middle of no where was the playback for the music. ¬†Ryan had originally brought his ipod with a bluetooth – but then realized that they weren’t compatible or something. So I ended up using my little workout MP3 player and earbuds. ¬†They wrapped the earbuds underneath my hair and down the back of my dress so you could not see them in the shots. ¬†However, the hard part was that my MP3 player was not remote- so every time they called action for a shot, Alex (one of the crew) stood behind me and pushed play on my MP3 player and hurried to tuck it into the back of my dress, and then practically leap down off the rock to get out of the shot.

Alex, you’re amazing.

Here are some more shots from that evening’s shoot…

After we finished up the shoot that evening, we all met up later that night to go to Yucca Valley’s tiny movie theater to see “Breaking Dawn Part 2”. ¬†Okay, so watching that movie with a bunch of film people was hilarious, I just have to say. ¬†Justus (our producer) said wide-eyed “I’m NEVER letting you take me to another movie ever again.” ¬†(It was his first Twilight movie experience).

The next morning was another early morning, as we had to be up at 4:30 a.m. for hair and makeup, in order to be ready to leave by 7:00 a.m. to head out into the desert again.

Hiking through the desert in flip-flops and a long black dress was not the easiest thing to do. ¬†Fortunately I am a very outdoorsy girl and didn’t mind being out there – it was just the logistics of it all!

The crew shot Ivorie’s dance scenes first…

While Ivorie was getting her dance scenes filmed, I was being shown where my next filming location would be.  It was this rock platform at the top of this small mountain structure of rock.

“I’m going to be standing up¬†there??”¬†was my reaction.

Yup.

So my husband, Will, climbed to the top of it first to test it out and to find the best possible way for me to climb up it.

You need to just know something right now – I’m afraid of edges. Like CRAZY afraid. ¬†I’m not afraid of heights, but I am afraid of edges where I can fall. If there is no rail or guard to hold me back from falling, then it just royally FREAKS. ME. OUT.

And they say that if you have a fear, you should just face your fear head on to get over it.

Whoever said that is an idiot because it does not work.

It took me a long time to climb all these huge boulders in a dress (someone else carried my violin for me).  I was in my flip-flops as well.

I finally reached the top where I was supposed to be standing to play my violin, and there were drop-offs on either side of the boulder.  It took me like ten minutes sitting there on the rock before I could muster up enough bravery to try standing on it.  Will (an experienced mountain climber) was there with me the whole time and just reminded me to breathe, and pause to get used to the heights and then climb up a little more.

Yeah, it wasn’t working so much. My heart was still pounding and I had was not feeling so great.

This was Will saying to me – ¬†“Smile for the camera, honey!”. ¬†He did not get a smile.

I kept telling myself “Just do it, Jennifer – do it for the sake of the shot! It’s going to look awesome!”

I finally was able to get myself to stand up on the ledge, get my footing, and put my violin up to my chin. ¬†And then Will hopped down off the ledge and left me there alone and it hit me, as I looked around, where I was…and WHAM I started feeling panicked and nauseous and dizzy. I felt my head starting to spin and realized if I didn’t sit back down I would probably fall right off that rock.

And that is when I realized I was not going to be able to do this, and tears started welling up out of my eyes and I started to cry a little bit.

“I’m going to ruin my makeup, gosh darnitt!” I thought.

Ryan was down below, and he was so nice and just kept telling me “It’s okay Jennifer, if you can’t do it – it’s okay.”

We eventually found a spot for me where I could lean against a boulder instead of stand. I still felt dizzy, but at least I felt secure.  This is a shot that Noelle took from below Рand probably very similar to what they got on film.  I totally look like the Fiddler on the Roof Рhaha.

The rock that is directly out in front of me is the ledge where they wanted me to stand. It doesn’t really look that high up from this photo, but trust me – it was.

After this location, we went to another place where they had these crazy looking cacti called “Teddybear Cactus”. ¬† Some of the crew quickly learned that if you touch it, it has these tiny little daggers that¬†embed¬†in your skin like a fishhook – and if you try to yank them out it pulls your skin out from the underneath layers.

Ouch.

We were removing these sharp little thorns with¬†pliers¬†just so we wouldn’t have to touch them with our bare fingers. ¬†But they made for super cool shots for the film ….

I just felt bad for Ivorie, because she was dancing and twirling around these things!  At a couple times, I saw her get inches away from brushing her skin against them.

We filmed our last location at a viewpoint overlooking the valley. It was absolutely gorgeous and the guys were able to get some really great silhouette shots. We also had a little bit of a crowd up there who seemed to really enjoy watching us film (we actually had crowds in all the various locations, but the most people were at the viewpoint).

After we finished wrapping up the final shots, we all celebrated with some sparkling cidar at the viewpoint (and freezing cold!)…

All in all, it was an absolutely fantastic experience that I would do over in a heartbeat. Well, except for climbing the boulders – I probably wouldn’t do that again. ¬†All of the people on this project were so positive, so professional, and just very talented.

Writer/Director:  Ryan K. McNeal

Catering/Assisting:  Becky McNeal

Producer:  Justus Meyer

Videographer:  Jackson Cooper Gango

Location/Assist:  Eric McCoy

Editor:  Alex Jones

Dancer:  Ivorie Jenkins

Makeup/Hair:  Noelle Jensen

Artist:  Jennifer Thomas

The video is expected to be edited and completed sometime within the first couple of weeks in December. ¬†Please subscribe to my YouTube channel to be the first to see it when it’s finished. We will also be releasing a behind-the-scenes video once the official music video releases.

http://www.youtube.com/user/mozart623?feature=mhee

What I’ve Been Up To.

The past 6 weeks have been super busy for me.

I had a photo shoot, a music video shoot, a cd release concert, a house concert, finished a new song, and hosted company for 10 days during most of that. ¬†That doesn’t even include the errands, the meetings, the babysitters (for my kiddos), the late nights, the lack of sleep, the stressing over whether I look good factor, and more.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that the house concert was 3 states away, which was a long roadtrip – but very fun.

I’m back in Seattle now. ¬†I do have lots coming up still, but I feel like the super busy part is overwith.

Before I share pictures and details about the lat 6 weeks, I thought I would share some good news first.

___________________________________

GOOD NEWS

My new album, “Illumination”, has been receiving some pretty cool reviews. ¬†Haven’t heard one negative thing yet *wipes sweat off of forehead*.

Piano Heaven in the UK selected my album as an “award winner” for their site. ¬†Stephen Cairns wrote a really lovely review of my album – which you can read here. ¬†“Every so often, a CD comes along that blows the listener away with its creativity and quality of music. ¬†This is one such CD…The CD is brimming with quality from the very first track to the very last – all seventy-three minutes worth. ¬†An outstanding album, and one which I have no hesitation giving my highest recommendation.”¬†

Pandora finally accepted my newest album. In case you missed that whole drama, even though my first two albums have been rotation on Pandora for several years, my newest album was rejected.  Pandora was flooded with hundreds of emails from my fans requesting that they add Illumination to their collection, but it was still refused.  However, thanks to more fan efforts and the persistence of my promotion company, Evolution, Pandora changed their minds.  As an independent artist who appreciates stations like Pandora who support my art and actually pay me for it Рthis was the best news all year!

This December I’ll be performing with the Evergreen Youth Philharmonic – one of the top youth orchestras on Seattle’s eastside. ¬†We will be performing some of the work from¬†Illumination. ¬†I’m very excited about this opportunity! ¬†I’ve performed with symphonies before but only in the genre of Classical music. Never before have I performed my own original work with a live orchestra. ¬†Pinch me please.

I’ve also received some fantastic reviews from Kathy Parsons of MailyPiano.com, Michael Debbage of MainlyPiano.com, ¬†David B Davis of Music Notes, RJ Lannan¬†of the Zone Reporter 9who gave me 5 stars, and he rarely gives 5 stars!), and also¬†many local Seattle newspapers.

I was also nominated (2nd year in a row) for the 2012 Hollywood Music in Media Awards for “Best Contemporary Orchestral/Instrumental”, and “Best Film Score for Short/Documentary”. The awards will be November 15th in downtown Hollywood. I’m looking forward to walking the red carpet again and seeing many of my fellow composers/performers.

Illumination¬†also debuted #19 on the top 100 albums on The Zone (New Age Music Reporter) for July. I’m curiously waiting to see how it did for August.

And last but not least,¬†Illumination¬†has been receiving airplay on radio stations across the world. ¬†My biggest radio achievements thus far is Music Choice/Soundscapes, and Hearts of Space. ¬†I’m currently still waiting to hear about XM/Sirius Satellite. ¬†Evolution is also trying to get some of my classical pieces on Classical FM San Francisco and Classical FM Seattle. ¬†If you happen to live in either of these cities, it would be great if you would contact these stations and request me.

___________________________________________________________

All right! Now onto the re-cap portion of this blog post…

Moonlight Video Shoot

For the past several months, Swedish singer Viktoria Tocca and I have been working together on a collaboration. ¬†For those who don’t know who Viktoria Tocca is, she is a very talented songstress who won my category in the HMMA’s last year for her rendition of “Dark Waltz“. She also has a heavy background in musical theater, where she played the part of Christine in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera for 2 years straight in Denmark. ¬†Viktoria and I met after the HMMA’s and became very good friends, and decided to collaborate together on a few projects.

As we are both classical crossover artists, we knew we wanted to do something of that nature. ¬†One night while practicing the piano, Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata in particular, I realized how great this piece would be. ¬†I talked to Viktoria about it and she was on board.

So I wrote an arrangement based on themes from the Sonata (though the piano part is quite different). ¬†Viktoria’s vocal part actually follows the original melody of the piece. ¬†We are both so excited about this piece since this really hadn’t ever been done before (adding vocals to Moonlight Sonata). At least no version we had ever heard. ¬†Viktoria wrote the lyrics and recorded her parts in Stockhohm, while I recorded the piano part and some of the violin parts here in Seattle.

While I normally orchestrate most all of my own music, I asked Glen Gabriel (also from Sweden) to orchestrate Moonlight. ¬†For those of you who have heard my new album, you’ll recognize Glen from there – as he did a lot of the beats/effects and some of the additional orchestration on the album.

While we have not yet released the song, you can hear it here if you like.

We obviously also decided to film a music video for this while Viktoria would be in the US this summer…

While it is only expected of two blonde female classical crossover musicians to do some sort of flowy-dress fairy-in-the-woods type of video, we decided to do something very¬†juxtaposed¬†to all of that. ¬†Director Moses Olson and cinematographer Ali Mohsenian came up with a concept that matched the dark feel of the music. ¬†The thing that we both liked about the idea was a) It’s unexpected, and b) while you hear this classical oriented music with Viktoria’s smooth soaring voice – it just glides over the top of the action oriented video.

I have to give them props for coming up with something that would equally feature us both. ¬†Being that Viktoria is a singer and I’m a pianist, it is difficult to show the audience that this is not just a “Viktoria Tocca” video, or a “Jennifer Thomas” video – especially with both of us being female leads and having it be an equal collaboration between both of us as artists.

I won’t give the full details of the plot, but it involves a bank heist (Viktoria is the robber), a hideout in a fancy mansion, a good looking man (who played the part of Viktoria’s boyfriend in the video), and me as a cop who ends up on the trail of her. ¬†There is also a part of the storyline where you will see that Viktoria and I knew each other before the heist, and that comes into play as well.

We are finishing up the performance shots of me on the piano this Saturday (the 15th), and then we are hoping to have the video edited and ready for release either late October or early November.

The talented Demone Gore and Gretchen Black (seasoned actors) so kind to give me pointers on acting for the city rooftop scene. ¬†Gretchen and I were supposed to look like we were discussing the crime, but we were actually discussing what food we were going to eat after the video shoot, and what groceries we needed. ūüôā

The talented Rick Walters (actor/filmmaker), as our getaway driver….

Demone and I in the bank’s parking garage as we find clues. ¬†This was actually a parking garage of an apartment building in downtown Seattle.

One of the getaway scenes with Viktoria and her actor-boyfriend, Chris Hynes – in the boiler room with a bag of $500,000 worth of fake money.

Those shots above are actually stills from the video, but here are some more behind the scenes pics…

Chris Hynes – the actor who played Viktoria’s boyfriend in the video.

Me wearing a faux bullet-proof jacket and trying to figure out how in the world do I wear this thigh holster-thingie??

Our beautiful hair/makeup artist, Noelle Jensen, doing Viktoria’s hair for one of her performance scenes.

Both Viktoria and I in makeup for our first scenes.  The other fabulous makeup artist is Jonelle Cornwell.

I also have some behind-the-scenes video footage, but after spending over an hour editing it into a video, my program crashed and sorry, but not starting over now. Maybe later after we film my piano performance shots for the video, I’ll finally put something together.

Photo Shoot with Viktoria Tocca & Jennifer Thomas

Viktoria thought since we were doing some collaborations together, it would be a good idea to get some photographs taken together for promotional purposes. ¬†And, well, because let’s face it- it’s just FUN to do photo shoots and why not?

Viktoria is actually working on a new album (to be released 2013), and some of the themes/concepts for the music have to do with water (earth, water, fire, etc I guess? I don’t want to say too much). ¬†We thought it would be really cool to do some photos actually IN the water. ¬†Also because, originally, our concept for “Moonlight” was going to involve beach scenes (our original music video idea was that we would be sirens and would lure a poor sailor to his death in the video).

So water has always been something fun we wanted to work with. We searched a lot of google images and Pinterest boards looking for inspiration. ¬†We eventually came across these photos that were taken from the show America’s Next Top Model…

We actually found the episode where they shot these photo shoots and watched how they did it.  It looked very cold, and very complicated to be honest! Ha!  And neither Viktoria or I wanted to destroy any of our beautiful dresses by wearing them in the water.

So we came up with an idea to wear white swim suits in the water and then drape flowy material around us to make it appear as though it were dresses flowing out. ¬†I’m not sure they ended up looking as flowy as we had originally wanted, but nevertheless, the photos turned out beautiful.

Here is a preview of one of the photos from that shoot…

I won’t say it was easy getting into a bathing suit to be photographed, and given my usual modest attire, it took an act of bravery to do the pool shots. ¬†However, I’m just grateful that we had classy bathing suits with material to cover us! ¬†I’m not going to share any more of the proofs – as we’ll keep them pretty under-wraps until we need them for promo purposes.

Oh, and our fabulous photographer was Ross James Рa fashion photographer from Seattle.  He did a fabulous job!

Along with the brave pool shots that we did, we also did some photographs of us in similar black dresses next to some very cool rock structures. ¬†Here is a preview of one of those photos…

I personally think the ones of us in our black dresses will be great promo shots for our “Moonlight” song.

Illumination CD Release Concert

As well as the video and photo shoot, I also was busy preparing for my big CD release concert during all of this.

This was no small task.

It took me roughly four years to complete Illumination, and I really felt like celebrating.  While my husband would have been more content with me just doing a small piano-store sized concert, I wanted to hold it somewhere where I could use my full orchestral backup tracks and have it sound amazing.

So I ended up having the concert at the Kirkland Performance Center in Kirkland, WA.

The venue had fabulous acoustics, as well as the ability for surround sound.

Prior to the concert, as if I wasn’t already busy enough working with my projects with Viktoria, I also ended up in the ER a few times for stomach pains and eventually having surgery to have my gallbladder taken out.

It was rough after the surgery Рand I was feeling very anxious about not being prepared for my big concert.  I was THIS close to cancelling the concert. I lost 2 weeks of preparation time due to having to stay in bed and recover. Practicing my piano was hard to do because I just felt weak, and my mind was very fuzzy due to just being tired and also the painkillers.

Eventually though, I started feeling better and was back to practicing. Thankfully as the next couple of weeks went by I felt like I could do the concert Рwith the help of some sheet music.  There was no way I had enough time to memorize all 13 of the songs for my concert. I would say I was close to having them all memorized, but not completely.

Here is me the night of my release concert on the red carpet…(photos by Kathy Boll)

My soloists with me on the red carpet – Kristen Yose, Kelley Marie Johnson, me, Viktoria Tocca, and Stephanie Yose

With my handsome husband, Will.

This is my cute (and shy) 4 year old, Preston, coming up on stage to surprise me with flowers after the concert.

And here is a little video snippet of him with the flowers. SO stinkin’ cute!!

You can also catch some of the footage from my concert on my YouTube Channel here.

Here is “Requiem For a Dream”…

I am still editing video footage from the concert, so I will continue to post more on YouTube in the coming weeks.

I have to say though, that my concert was so much fun!  I had some nervousness beforehand like I always do, but everyone there was so incredibly supportive and enthusiastic and it made it a lot easier on me as a performer.  I would do it all over again in a heartbeat for certain.

Here are a few more behind the scenes photos from the concert…

Preston in the dressing room with me – he was so excited to come to my concert ūüôā

My hairdo that I paid to have done – that only lasted a whole 2 hours. I ended up taking it down right before the concert and just throwing it into a side pony.

Why yes that is my name on the marquee! ūüôā

My hubby and I at the Cheesecake Factory after my concert – with Viktoria, my brother, and a few other friends as well.

  The day after my concert, Viktoria left to head back to LA for another few days, while I recovered! ha!

The following weekend, my little family and I headed down to Utah for my house concert at Michele McLaughlin’s Cozy Corner House Concert Series. ¬†I was really excited because the show had completely sold out, and she even overbooked it. I was wondering how we were possibly going to fit all those people in her living room!

I apologize – these aren’t the best photos because they were taken from mobile phones, but here you are…

With my dear friend Dixie and her husband – after the concert. Dixie is the one whom I dedicated “After the Storm” to on my album.

With Jared and Tamara…

With Dwight Tanner, my cellist for the concert…

With singer and friend Lori Cunningham

With pianist and friend Michele McLaughlin…

Performing “Secrets” with Dwight…

And now for some goofies…

Out to eat after the concert…

You can watch the concert on YouTube here:

Along with my concert in UT, my husband also ran the Wasatch 100 mile Endurance Race. Yes 100 miles. ¬†Here we are at the mile 53 aid station…

So anyway, now I’m back in Seattle and enjoying a nice little break from things. ¬†That is, I do have to film my piano performance scenes for the Moonlight video this weekend, and also prepare transcriptions for an entire orchestra for the December symphony concert, and also film a music video for “Illumination”, oh and head to LA in November for the HMMA’s….but other than that….I’m just playing with my kiddos ūüôā

Jennifer Thomas “Illumination” Music Video: Submit Your Ideas

Have you ever wanted to be part of the making of a film?  Are you a storyteller?  Well, then I need your help.

To make a long story short…

Over the past many months, my filmmaker, producer, and myself have been going back and forth about concepts for a music video for my title track “Illumination”. ¬†We have settled on something, only to later change it. ¬†And then, recently, we had come up with a very cool concept involving some very fancy cars, parkoir runners, with a sleek theif vs. FBI agent type of feel. ¬†I even still have the cars lined up for the video, including a Rolls Royce and a very fancy sports car – thanks to the local Exotics car club here in Seattle.

Listen to “Illumination” here:¬†http://www.reverbnation.com/play_now/song_13720191?utm_campaign=opengraph&utm_content=song&utm_medium=link&utm_source=facebook

However, new bump in the road:

I recently shot a music video with Viktoria Tocca for our collaboration together on our song “Moonlight”. ¬†Though the video was shot very differently, the concept ended up being quite similar to our idea for “Illumination”. ¬†It was a hard decision to admit that we needed to, again, change the idea for the Illumination video. I didn’t want two music videos made back to back that were both dark, secret-agent type videos.

(Fun shots from “Moonlight” video shoot….)

So I did a 180 degree, and decided that even though I personally love the whole fast car chase type video, I needed something more personal for this video; something very light and positive.  Something that would inspire people, just as I would hope this song does for people.

Our original shoot for this video was scheduled for the weekend of Sept 15th, however, we’ve decided to postpone it until we have a really solid creative idea for the concept. ¬†We’ve gone back and forth on several ideas but so far, there hasn’t been one idea that has really popped out and stood out as the front runner. ¬†This is a very special song and it needs a special story/concept to go along with it. ¬†I don’t want people to just watch it and say “That was cool.” But I want them to watch it and get goosebumps and share it with their friends because it inspired them and really made their day better, and made them feel like a better person.

THIS IS WHERE YOU COME IN: I asked my filmmaker if he would be all right with me extending the invitation to my fans to submit story/concept ideas for the video. ¬†I, in no way, wanted to infringe on his creative territory on this video, but we both agreed it would be really great and fun to hear what other people came up with. And hey, if you submit an idea that we end up using, we will definitely list you on the video credits for your role and input in it. ¬†And give you a huge shout-out. ūüôā

Some things you need to know before typing away your ideas:

1.  Our budget for this video is like super tiny.  The best ways to keep filming budgets down are cutting down on shooting time, i.e. not a zillion different locations.  And no super hard special effects.

2.  I live in Seattle and the video will be shot in the Seattle area.  Think ocean, trees, city, mountains, green.

3.  The best music videos are ones with a story to them, even if it is very simple.

4. ¬†I want something that is positive, inspiring, and uplifting. ¬†Think of the meaning behind the word “illumination”.

5. I originally wrote the song for a luxury car commercial, so it kind of has that vibe/inspiration behind it. ¬†But it doesn’t have to be about that. Just wanted to let you know why I had written it.

All right -ready, set, go! ¬†Post your ideas away! I’ll be checking this for the next month or so….and we’ll probably be hoping to lock something down and shoot October or November. ¬†Please help me make a great impacting music video that you would love to see. ūüôā Thanks.

– Jennifer and team

P.S. If you don’t want everyone to read your idea here in the comments, you can personally email me at jennifer@jenniferthomasmusic.com