Instrumental pianist Anne Trenning titled her third recording Watching for Rain, as a metaphor indicating a time of hopeful anticipation. “As our world continues to face the challenges of economy, war and the environment, we find ourselves looking toward new opportunities, for rain to come and refresh the earth, and for growth and positive change to occur.”
Trenning explains, “In a broader sense, it seems many of us are hoping for our world to enter a period of healing; we want to be part of a cleansing transformation — which is why I chose the analogy of rain. I wanted the music on this album to reflect new beginnings, and to offer emotional encouragement during this time of anticipation and hope.”
Trenning has always used personal experiences to create music that she hopes will resonate universally. “Sorrow and grief are as much a part of life as joy and happiness, and all those emotions resonate in my music. My compositions are often melodic portraits of challenges I have faced in my own life.”
She began exploring those emotional landscapes on her first album, Suite Tea. That recording also evoked water imagery with the original composition “Where Rivers Run” as well as a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “The Rain Song.” Trenning’s second album, All One World, promoted her belief in global peace, love, and friendship, but also addressed personal challenge (“Walking Through My Tears”) as well as willingness to reach out (the traditional “Give Me Your Hand”). While Suite Tea received substantial sales and airplay internationally, Anne’s popularity soared with her next recording. All One World debuted at #4 on the national New Age Reporter radio airplay charts, and NAR also named All One World one of the Top 5 acoustic piano albums of the year. It ranked #9 in a competition of 2,800 recordings on NAR’s annual list of all contemporary instrumental albums.
Trenning has become known both for composing strong melodies, and for arranging memorable tunes in new ways. Trenning’s sound blends her classical training with her love of new age, gospel, Celtic, jazz, classic rock, folk and Americana. Her recordings feature a few solo piano pieces along with an assortment of selections where the piano is accompanied by other acoustic instruments such as violin, cello, flute, piccolo, guitar, bass, and percussion. All One World and Watching for Rain were both produced by classical percussionist Rick Dior. Dior graduated from the Manhattan School of Music, studied with jazzsters Bob Mintzer and Joe Morello, and serves as a percussionist for the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra. Dior has backed numerous stars including James Taylor, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Hamlish, Ray Charles, Bobby McFerrin and Lionel Hampton.
Watching for Rain contains ten originals plus the Welsh folk melody “The Ash Grove,” the traditional spiritual “I Want To Be Ready,” the modern gospel “H. I. A. T. W.,” the Don Schlitz-Paul Overstreet country classic “When You Say Nothing At All” and a 37-second benediction-like coda of Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released.” Trenning also offers a new arrangement of the Celtic-spirited “Eden Hall” that originally appeared on her first recording. Her new material ranges from the grand and stately “The Welcome Song” (featuring a piano-cello-violin trio), to the Americana minuet-feel of “Carolina Moon.” “You and Me” is about the evolving nature of relationships. “A Prayer for the World” is both reverent and soulful.
There is an organic quality to Anne Trenning’s music that derives from her love of nature and the world around us. She has a deep respect for rural lifestyles. She believes strongly in the importance of family and tradition. History is another fascination, reflected by her penchant for antiques and old homes. Her love for the past also is evident in the traditional sounds of acoustic instruments found throughout her recordings. Anne, who is an avid reader of all genres of literature, feels strongly about passing on knowledge. When not writing, recording, or performing, she teaches piano performance.
Trenning lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. She was raised in the Chicago suburb of Barrington, Illinois, where she began playing the organ at age seven. She remembers “learning lots of sheet music from the Big Band era.” When she was 12, Trenning shifted her focus to playing piano. Church and choir also shaped her earliest musical memories. Her father encouraged practicing and a love of four-part harmony by paying her a dollar for every hymn she learned to play from a Presbyterian hymnal passed down from her grandmother. “My entrepreneurial spirit insured that I learned to play most of the songs in that well-worn, treasured family collection.”
Anne has always loved varied and diverse musical forms. Her early classical studies led her to appreciate Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Debussy and Chopin. At the same time, she always loved listening to “just about anything on the radio.” A teenager in the eighties, she found herself drawn to classic rock and pop music from the previous decade, including Crosby Stills Nash and Young, James Taylor, Cat Stevens, Steely Dan, The Guess Who, Elton John, The Allman Brothers, and Dan Fogelberg. Trenning attended Converse College in Spartanburg, South Carolina on a music scholarship, and earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music and History. In college, her classical studies expanded, and she became a fan of Mendelssohn, Scarlatti, and Ravel. Simultaneously, she explored country, folk, and new age music, and was especially inspired when she discovered the music of George Winston. Other artists of influence were Joni Mitchell, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Bonnie Raitt, and Emmylou Harris. In more recent years, Trenning’s musical tastes have continued to expand to include other new age musicians such as Suzanne Ciani, David Lanz and Jim Brickman. Jazz and Americana are newer interests, as well as traditional folk music by artists that include Jay Ungar and Molly Mason.
After college and three-months of traveling in Europe, Anne moved to Charlotte, North Carolina. Her musical career took a dramatic turn when she began composing music. “I didn’t even own a piano in the immediate years following my graduation from college, but after I purchased my first home, I inherited the family piano. After years of taking lessons, I suddenly found myself sitting at the piano without a set goal for my practicing. That’s when I began experimenting and creating my own music.” Soon Trenning made a demo tape that was heard by best-selling new age artist David Lanz, who said he liked her style, and gave her welcome encouragement. Anne then recorded her debut album Suite Tea. “The title is a tongue-in-cheek nod to years of classical studies, and my whole-hearted embrace of the refreshing Southern tradition of sitting back and enjoying a cool glass of sweetened iced tea.” The recording was produced by GRAMMY-nominated and DOVE Award-recipient Dave Moody. She followed that CD with the Top 5 airplay album All One World. Her third recording, Watching for Rain, continues to showcase carefully arranged material for piano-led acoustic ensembles.
“I am always watching the horizon, not just for rain, but for whatever is coming next. There is a change in the air for the whole world, and I wanted this collection of songs to communicate the hope for constructive transformation. Water is one of life’s essentials, and I feel the same way about music. At times it simply washes over me, and other times I completely immerse myself in the blessing it has to offer. Music, like rain, suffuses the world in beneficent grace.”