Cellist Margaret Maria and Soprano Donna Brown Are “Between Worlds” On Collaborative New Album

Enveloping the philosophy of Eros and Thanatos, the creative life force, and the inevitability of death, Between Worlds starts and ends as just another day, with the Sunrise and the Sunset. What fills our days on this earth, from birth to death, is a journey of extremes. Between Worlds was a unique collaboration between two artists whose hearts are very much aligned, Cellist Margaret Maria and Soprano Donna Brown.

With her masterful skills as an extraordinary cellist merging with the intuition of a gifted creator, Margaret is a unique and exciting new voice in the world of music. Her talents have been described as “an unstoppable force of nature – seamless in its complete unification of technical and subconscious realm,” making her music one of a kind and mystifying in its process and creation.

A graduate of the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music, Margaret’s career has seen her play on many stages as a seasoned solo and chamber music performer and in professional orchestras across Canada. Her later in life transition into composition has seen her work being performed on stage in her very first World premiere of a piece for orchestra and soprano.

The original production of Between Worlds premiered in 2019 in Ottawa, featuring the Ottawa Chamber Orchestra, with guest soloist, the great Canadian soprano Donna Brown.

“While I was still a member of the National Arts Centre Orchestra, I heard many glorious sounds, but one particular artist caught my attention,” says Margaret. “The artistry and personality of Donna took my breath away.”

Donna’s voice has been described as “shimmering, luminous, and gemlike in its brilliance.” She has performed on the opera and concert stages worldwide and has sung in over 200 recitals with such pianists as Stephane Lemelin, Philippe Cassard, and Roger Vignoles to name a few. Her repertoire is extensive, including opera, recital, chamber music, contemporary music, and even alternative music.

“I was enraptured and could only dream of writing music for her voice,” says Margaret. “I had just begun composing, and my idea was more a figment of hope rather than something concrete. Some of the poems written for Between Worlds were explicitly set to music, while others were adapted into music composed in the poem’s theme. She writes her poetry like I write my music! Her words oscillate between different states of consciousness just as I live my life and feel my music.”

The album was recorded despite enduring many challenges, including the pandemic delaying the project for almost two years. Throughout the recording process with engineer Tim Peterson, Donna sang her parts acapella or headphones to pre-recorded music – a new challenge for her – and Margaret later created the pieces around her voice.

For the last piece, “One,” the music had already been written, and Margaret asked Donna to write words to it. This was a new challenge for Donna, but in listening to the music, the words came to her quickly, as though they were always meant to be there. All of this made for a very fluid process of creation.

“With a kind of synesthesia, I take in the energy waves of a moment in time, an event, poem, or concept, expand its emotions within me and then coat it in musical notes that are imbued with that emotion and send it back out into the world as music. It is my voice making a statement on what it means to be a spirit in a human form living in this world today; from our darkest instincts to our lightest facets, reflected through my music.”

The world goes on, season after season, uncaring of the humanity that is struggling to breathe, to live. And yet we experience life, death, and time almost despite the world that keeps on carelessly turning. Every step of Between World shas had its challenges in being brought to life in this format, but Margaret Maria and Donna Brown’s fervent passion for this project held them steadfast to release an album already garnering attention around the world.