All Is Calm All Is Bright
It all really got started over pancakes - the annual Altona, Manitoba, Canada tradition of the Sunflower Festival pancake breakfast on the Credit Union parking lot. Loren and Lori Hiebert were enjoying a hearty breakfast that summer morning in 2002 when former piano student Rosemary Siemens walked up. Rosemary, who was studying in Miami, Florida, was visiting her parents, Jack and Mary Siemens who live near Plum Coulee, Manitoba. After catching up on recent news, Rosemary said it would be good to play together again (Loren had been her accompanist in past years at the local music festival.) Loren agreed, thinking they would probably play over some of the classical pieces they had played in the past. But Rosemary had other ideas. She wanted to play hymns! They started improvising on some familiar hymns and immediately found common ground - a flair for improvisation, and a love for the music of the church. They played together in Loren's church the next Sunday morning, and that same day began plans for a CD of hymn improvisations. Within a few months, their first CD 'Take My Hand' was released. In the meantime, Rosemary and Loren began appearing regularly in church services and concerts. The frequency of these engagements is increasing exponentially, limited only by the geographical challenge of Rosemary now making her home in Vancouver while Loren still lives in Altona. The release of their second CD 'All is Calm, All is Bright' a Christmas compilation, was heralded by a standing-room-only crowd of five hundred fans in Gretna's Buhler Hall. Both of their CD's have gone into several reprint runs, and have achieved best-seller status. A feature of their appearances is the invitation of requests from the audience. They especially enjoy requests for songs they've never played before. It's an exhilarating experience to discover together with an audience what makes a particular song 'tick' on that particular day. There's always a feeling of closeness with the audience when playing 'their song' that might not be there with other repertoire. Their musical styles have evolved over the years and they have played music from many areas including jazz, pop, country, rock, and fiddle, but gospel remains at the centre of what they do.