Music in the mountains

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BETHEL – The farmhouse perched up a slope along the Mayville Road in Bethel looks just like any other well kept, restored farmhouse.

But one step inside shows this is definitely not your typical farmstead.

The ell is a showcase for music CDs, the living room overpowered by a huge sound recording console. A small room off to the side contains all manner of microphones for recording small groups or individuals, and a large, barnboard-paneled room off the end of the ell can accommodate larger groups.

It’s The Outlook, a professional recording and audio production studio, owned by Conni and Ted St. Pierre.

The St. Pierre’s have recorded everything from punk and heavy metal rock to the Maine humor of Joe Perham, the guitarist from the Paul Winter Consort, Joe Perry of Arrowsmith, the folk Denny Breau Trio, local metal bands like Catatonyc and Theory of Negativity, and Conni’s special blend of ambient, meditative, New Age music.

The studio’s label, Smash Easy, has recorded 13 artists or groups representing 21 releases in the past 25 years, ever since they moved to Maine from Boston.

Ted, who is the producer/engineer for the studio as well as a musician, taught at Gould Academy for a time. When the couple decided to leave Boston, they thought of the beauty of western Maine.

“I wouldn’t choose to be anywhere else. This is a place I have room to grow. I just have to be in nature,” she said.

The farm sits on 103 acres that are being preserved as a wildlife sanctuary.

She has also written and recorded several of her own CDs, focusing on quiet, meditative music often used with yoga, massage, meditation, Reiki and other healing arts.

“Music is the best form of expression,” she said recently in her studio.

She loves all kinds of music and for 42 of her 48 years, she’s been studying many instruments. She started playing the piano, clarinet, flute and guitar at age six, as well as learning voice. She also plays gypsy harp, which is a slightly smaller instrument than an Irish harp.

She attended the Stephens College in Missouri and the University of London, Morley College.

Her CDs are filled with a quiet, relaxing tone, hinting of their many subjects – the water softly bubbling around a lily, the gentle touch of snow on lilacs, the haunting sounds of a Japanese flute known as a shakuhachi or the equally touching Native American flute.

Chimes often lightly punctuate a theme, along with soft keyboards, and the sound of rain created by the harp.

She released three CDs from 1997 to 2003 known as the Legends Trilogy – “Beneath the Waves,” “Between the Branches” and “Beyond the Sky.”

Now she is about to release a second series, beginning with “Flower Spirits,” to be followed in the next couple of years by mountain, tree and water spirits.

A native of Kansas, Conni’s creative talents have extended to acting, which she did for a few years when she was younger, and into writing prose and poetry as well as music.

She is working on a mythic contemporary fantasy novel, and plans to write guided meditations and visualizations to be voiced over her music. She recently completed a yoga CD.

“A lot of creative people have gravitated here to the water and mountains. I’d be doing very different music if I was someplace else,” she said.

Her CDs can be found online, available for downloading, and at music and New Age bookstores around the state.

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