Gigs & press

Biography

   

The "guitar dharma" of acoustic fingerstyle player Clarelynn Rose reflects her unique life experiences in the woods, in China, and as a Buddhist. A 20-year resident of California now living in Scotland, Rose has developed an elegant and enchanting blend of Celtic and New Age.

As a forester, she has spent a lot of time outdoors. "My music is a kind of natural resources interpretation. When writing a piece, I get a feeling about it and match that to a feeling I've had elsewhere. Often that's an experience in the woods."

   

While studying in Santa Cruz, a friend who thought Clarelynn's compositions were reminiscent of Alex de Grassi's introduced her to the Windham Hill recordings, which were a tremendous influence and inspiration. Shortly afterwards, she had an opportunity to study briefly with Windham Hill guitarist Daniel Hecht.

Spending two years living in China as a university student, Clarelynn learned to speak Chinese and wrote songs in Mandarin. She also studied Qigong, TaiChi, and Daoist and Buddhist teachings. After returning to California, she continued her Buddhist studies and now attends sessions at the local monastery. Her compositions Amitabha Buddha and Song of Putuo Mountain are based on traditional Buddhist chants.

In 1999, Clarelynn had the good fortune to attend a one-week seminar with guitarists Alex de Grassi and John Renbourn. Since then, de Grassi has been a mentor providing feedback on her compositions, which has improved the orchestration, color and texture of her pieces immeasurably. Renbourn remained an important mentor as well until his passing in 2015, with his influence introducing a lively Celtic sound into her music.

After establishing her independent label, Heartwood Music, in 2000 Clarelynn produced her debut CD, The Redwood Sidthe. This album as well as her second, Elegant Tern, contain a mix of new pieces and old compositions that date back to the mid-1980s. In 2004, after hearing recordings of Robert Barto performing the works of Sylvius Leopold Weiss on the lute, she took up the 13-course baroque lute. After studying briefly with Barto at the Lute Society of American seminar in 2004, she recorded her first baroque lute composition for the third album, Meadow Run. In the words of one reviewer, this most recent CD has established her as "clearly one of the premier steel string acoustic guitar soloists/composers playing and recording today."

Clarelynn moved to the United Kingdom on a composer's visa in 2005 and was involved in various projects, including singing in a vocal group (the Penicuik Taize Vaults singer), orchestration, music commission, and authoring a booklet and articles on Guitar Dharma.

She performed extensively throughout Northern California, sharing stages with Alex de Grassi, Steve Baughman, Dorian Michael, and Teja Gerken, with performances venues in the US, UK as well as China. While Clarelynn is not currently performing, her CDs are available at selected bookstores and on the internet (iTunes, amazon.com, and other vendors.

Clarelynn has explored the concept of Guitar Dharma, finding that many of the principles of her Buddhist practice can be directly applied to practice, performance, and composition. "Playing guitar, for example, often gives me the same centered, grounded feeling as meditation," she comments.

Primarily exposed to classical music as a youngster near Chicago, Clarelynn played in quartets and orchestras, including the Chicago Youth Symphony. She received various honors as a violist, including selection as first chair violist in the Illinois All-State Orchestra at age 15. She also learned the harp.

When her viola and harp were burned, she picked up the guitar at age 17. Immediately she began writing her own music, and remained a predominantly self-taught player who relies on intuition when composing. "I try different harmonies and rhythms. My heart and my ear know when it's right. It's rare that I write things down, as it's easier to remember the shapes and phrases."

A Registered Professional Forester with masters degrees in both Forestry and Environmental Engineering, Clarelynn donates a portion of CD sales to environmental education. To date, donations have topped $1,000. She was very active in community forestry and education for wildland fire protection. In addition to serving on the boards of the Mendocino County Fire Safe Council and a local outdoor education project, she was elected chair of the Northern California Society of American Foresters. Formerly a SmartWood-certified Resource Manager, she has consulted with SmartWood, assessing the sustainability of forestry operations in various locations in China and the US.

In 2005, Clarelynn was granted a composers visa to the UK. She now lives in Forres, Scotland.

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