Songs and Symphoniques: The Music of Moondog

Ghost Train Orchestra, Kronos Quartet


Songs and Symphoniques: The Music of Moondog is the fifth album from Ghost Train Orchestra, this time in collaboration with the Kronos Quartet. The album features brilliant new re-imaginings of the music of Louis Hardin aka Moondog, the blind composer who lived on the streets of Manhattan and became a fixture on 6th Avenue, dressed in striking Viking attire while selling his records and reciting poetry. His beautiful and haunting madrigals, songs, and symphoniques inspired the minimalists Philip Glass and Steve Reich, who called Moondog “the godfather of minimalism.” Featuring a diverse cast of special guests, Songs and Symphoniques showcases the work of five arrangers from Ghost Train Orchestra revisiting Moondog’s vital and uplifting music for a new generation.


About the album

Born in Kansas to an Episcopalian minister and largely self-taught as a composer, Moondog wrote dozens of beautiful songs, madrigals, and symphonies which drew inspiration from classical, jazz, Native American music, Latin American music, and Indian ragas. Blinded as a teenager, he moved to New York City in the late 40s and lived there until 1972, during which time he was often found on 6th Avenue appearing in a cloak and horned helmet by thousands of passersby and residents unaware of his musical career. He became an underground folk hero in New York City after he signed with Columbia and released his 1969 record Moondog. He moved to Germany in the 70s and lived there until his death in 1999.

Ghost Train Orchestra and Kronos Quartet recorded before and during the pandemic to bring to life new vivid arrangements of Moondog’s music by musical director Brian Carpenter and members of Ghost Train Orchestra Matt Bauder, David Cossin, Curtis Hasselbring, Andy Laster, and Maxim Moston. These new arrangements provide a new vision into the world of Moondog, expanding the darkness, beauty, and humor in the original pieces (in some cases originally written for solo piano and newly arranged for orchestra.)

Songs and Symphoniques combines brilliant instrumentals with beautiful songs and madrigals featuring a diverse cast of guest vocalists including Sam Amidon and Aoife O’Donovan, who had previously collaborated with Carpenter on Kronos’ Long Time Passing (2019), Joan Wasser and Karen Mantler, both of whom performed with Ghost Train Orchestra in NYC prior to the recordings, Marissa Nadler, Jarvis Cocker of Pulp fame, acclaimed singer and songwriter Rufus Wainwright, and the extraordinary vocalist Petra Haden, known for her striking a cappella works.

Brian Carpenter – trumpet, arranger
Curtis Hasselbring – trombone, arranger
Ron Caswell – tuba
Andy Laster – alto saxophone, flute, arranger
Matt Bauder – tenor saxophone, bass clarinet, arranger
Colin Stetson – bass saxophone
Dennis Lichtman – clarinet
Sara Schoenbeck – bassoon
Brandon Seabrook – guitar
Chris Lightcap – double bass, bass guitar
Rob Garcia – drums, percussion
David Cossin – marimba, percussion
Maxim Moston – violin, arranger

David Harrington – violin
John Sherba – violin
Hank Dutt – viola
Sunny Yang – cello

Produced by Brian Carpenter
Engineered by Zach Miley, Aaron Nevezie, and Marc Urselli
Mixed by John Kilgore and Brian Montgomery
Mastered by Bob Ludwig
Lure Design – design and layout
Cantaloupe Records 2023

  1. Theme
  2. Be a Hobo (feat. Rufus Wainwright)
  3. High on a Rocky Ledge (feat. Marissa Nadler)
  4. Caribea
  5. Why Spend a Dark Night With You? (feat. Joan as Police Woman)
  6. Enough About Human Rights (feat. Karen Mantler)
  7. I’m This, I’m That (feat. Jarvis Cocker)
  8. Speak of Heaven
  9. The Viking of 6th Avenue
  10. Down is Up (feat. Petra Haden)
  11. Coffee Beans (feat. Karen Mantler and Brian Carpenter)
  12. Behold (feat. Sam Amidon and Aoife O’Donovan)
  13. Choo Choo Lullaby (feat. Brian Carpenter)
  14. Fog on the Hudson
  15. See the Mighty Tree (feat. Petra Haden)
  16. Bumbo
  17. All is Loneliness (feat. Joan Wasser)

Released by Cantaloupe Records



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