For the beauty of the earth
For the splendor of the skies
For the love which from our birth,
Over and around us lies;
For all these with you we raise
This, our song of grateful praise!

Folliott Sanford Pierpont

Important Note: It will take a few minutes for this page to download the music samples. Broadband Internet connection is best. Please be patient - you will be well-rewarded!

Music for Sanctuary

The soul desires to celebrate the world. Falling head deep in love with beauty, it will seek it in every crevice of the earth, every corner of the mind, every window peering into the heart of nature and the human condition.

But the soul needs occasional retreat, a sanctuary to draw into and contemplate this experience called life. And what better meditative vehicle than music!

Music can create an interior, mirror-like haven that allows the light of the world to refract within the stillness of our soul. Music that evokes a state of sanctuary allows us to lose ourselves, permitting ourselves to be taken away, as if by some secret lover. We accept the mystery, passion, and romance of these melodies and refrains as merely testaments to our own felt desires, emotions, and memories.

Music allows us to celebrate life. But it also allows us to internalize the world, friendships, and love. Therefore, we may contemplate that which we hold dear, rewitness our griefs, become inspired and reinspired. And all this by sipping from a very special musical chalice.

The music ensemble, Confluence, is an exemplary example of the exploration of the soul thru both passionate and tender song. This section is your introduction and access to this exceptional ensemble that combines the many textural sounds and styles of acoustic guitar, cello, percussion, harp, piano, flute and recorder.


"Like the ensemble Secret Garden and music on the Narada label. Solid musicianship, well-produced . . . creating the musical equivalent of warm, sweet apple cider on a winter's eve. Pure Windham Hill in texture and emotion! "
Brett Campbell, music critic, Eugene Weekly

"Gorgeous breathless passion and peace; exquisite full arrangements that
lyrically sweep me into my heart"

Robert Smith, Reprise Records

Album Descriptions

In their long-anticipated first CD, Sanctuary, Christopher Forrest McDowell and Jeff Defty offer the listener a tapestry of original compositions, both sweeping in their arrangements and intimate in their conversations. Haunting lyrical melodies, like tone poems, give rise to the voices of guitar and cello, often texturally accompanied by strings, harp, recorder, flute and piano. Sanctuary is often listeners' first introduction to Confluence. It remains the ensemble's bestselling album, finding diverse use in yoga, massage, romantic evenings, and even during birthing and dying experiences.

The songs represent the advanced craft of these two composers who have played together for over twenty-six years. Their sensitivity not only to the voice of their instruments but to the soul of song has led them to conceptualize their style as "Sanctuary Music" - music that evokes wonder, healing, and celebration. Their music remains true to the instrumental ensemble framework, integrating classical, jazz and ethnic elements. The listener is firmly planted among a rich conversation between acoustic instruments and full ensemble arrangements.

There is no doubt that passion, tenderness, and romance pour forth from the songs in these albums. Amber Moon, Confluence's latest release, continues to massage the listener's spirit, integrating Celtic, Spanish, and Latin styles. The listener is swept deeper and deeper into their own reflective intimacy with life, falling in love once again, as it were, with their own soul.

Listeners often put Sanctuary or Amber Moon on continuous play, choosing to fill and refill the chalice of their heart; choosing to explore ever deeper the tightly woven harmonic relationship between guitar and cello, an intimate relationship too little explored in the musical world.

Christopher Forrest McDowell, guitar
Jeff Defty, cello, keyboards, recorder
Guest Instrumentalists
Alice Burke-Kammerer, Alan McCullough, flutes
Laura Zaerr, harp

Click on the song title designated with > (listen)

Sanctuary Songlist

In the Garden of Lady Eve> (listen-full)
Narana's Dream> (listen-full)
Soul Etude> (listen-full)
Fond Farewell
Sonji's Waltz
Lady of the Lake
Serenade for Juia

Amber Moon Songlist

Amber Moon
Simple Rose> (listen-full)

Gleneden Woods> (listen-full)
Genevieve by the Sea
Tree of Life
Ariadne's Thread
La Dolorosa
Innocence> (listen-excerpt)
Wind Peace

All songs are copyrighted 1998, 2002 by Christopher Forrest McDowell & Jeff Defty. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction of songs is prohibited without confirmed email permission. Recorded at Neptune Studios in cooperation with Neptune Music. Contact Us for further information.

Go to our Store>
Sanctuary: $18 (includes shipping)
Amber Moon: $16 (includes shipping)

About Confluence

Confluence co-founders, Christopher Forrest McDowell and Jeff Defty have fostered a musical brotherhood for over twenty-eight years. Their individual musical and performance accomplishments merge into one powerful synchronicity, as composers, arrangers and performers.

Confluence has developed a unique style, embracing and fusing classical, jazz and ethnic elements into a stirring, lyrical texture, with rich melodic lines riding on the wings of fascinating and satisfying harmonic changes. Indeed, it is this very quality of sophistication of compositional structure that weaves a strong thread in each song's tapestry. However, it is the improvisational nature of Confluence performances which perhaps draws the most visceral response from audiences. Listeners are often mesmerized by the nature in which group members create free-spirited melodies, harmonies, and solos of exquisite and adventurous lyricism.

Clearly, the focus of the relationship between ensemble members is to draw out the musical love affair possible between guitar, cello, and percussion. This instrumental combination has been explored very little in both classical and jazz idioms. The instruments converse intimately like monks by a river. They dance passionately with Spanish fever, find communion in prayer, then share laughter in spontaneous play.

Whether in concert performance, where song and spoken word interweave to arrest the soul's attention, or in the expanded arrangements of strings, winds, harp, and flute on their CDs, Confluence offers a place of musical sanctuary for the soul, an opportunity for renewal of spirit.

Christopher Forrest McDowell

Brings over fifty years of composing and guitar performance to the ensemble. His musical lyricism is driven by an aspiration to marry the deepest yearnings of the heart with the soul's desire to celebrate and contemplate life. This is shown at once in both his passionate and tender guitar renderings.

His early guitar instruction came at the hands of a gifted Italian concert pianist, and perhaps accounts for the full harmonic structure and melodic sophistication of his compositions. A prolific songwriter and writer, for the past 28 years he has focused primarily on pieces for small ensemble.

McDowell's dramatic storytelling, be it Hesse or Khayyam or the like, is both emotionally spontaneous and tender, as if the authors themselves were breathing back into life their own life's experiences and musings.

A scholar and philosopher (holding a PhD), he is also a nationally recognized and best-selling author in the fields of wellness care, spirituality, sanctuary and gardening. A longtime student of meditation, he lives with his wife Tricia on the beautiful 22-acre Cortesia Sanctuary outside Eugene, Oregon, USA.

Jeff Defty

Is a classically-trained cellist, composer and arranger, as well as a gifted storyteller. He has appeared with the Eugene Symphony and the Oregon Bach Festival Orchestra. He is the 1999 recipient of the Oregon Arts Commission Fellowship for New Music. Defty's music bridges classical, jazz, electronic and world music idioms. He has composed critically-acclaimed music for dance, theatre, video, and concert performance. Increasingly, he is also being sought by other performers/artists for his keen ear and insights as a producer.

Defty has released, under the Neptune Music label, two recordings of original music, Vanish into Blue (regularly featured on the nationally-syndicated "Music from the Hearts of Space") and The Descent of Inanna.

Jeff's passionate cello playing comes both from knowing the craft of his instrument and allowing his free spirit the opportunity to take spontaneous flight, evoking the cello's lyrical qualities and unlocking its rich tonal pallette. The sensitivity in his compositions is borne out of the composer's craft, yet clearly mirrors the soul's deepest surrender through the emotional labyrinth of life. These archetypal journies appear frequently in his music, storytelling, and stage productions.

A children's librarian by vocation, Jeff lives in Eugene, Oregon, USA with his cat, Money Penny.

Music & Performance to Arouse the Soul

Audiences are often at a loss to describe how they are affected by a Confluence concert.

What listeners do know is that they have experienced a rich musical texture founded on sound classical, jazz, and ethnic influences. The resulting hybrid sound has often been called Romantic Instrumental, or Chamber Jazz. Some listeners have even characterized it as "Classical with a twist of lime," or a type of "Elegant jazz with a sensibility."

Indeed, it is the inspired flight of passion, tenderness, and romance that makes Confluence so magnetic. This is concert performance at its richest and deepest emotion, and audiences throughout the Pacific Northwest (USA) have begun to discover parts of their souls through the entrancing music.

As guitar, cellos, and percussion meld into a single instrument capable of romance, laughter, and lamentation, so the listener willingly follows in journey. Whether they are playing a carefully-crafted composition or taking flight on an improvisational excursion, the members of Confluence sense and anticipate each other's emotional and musical gestures so well, it is often difficult to tell what is planned and what is almost magical synchronicity.

The ensemble often creates concerts around themes: "Sanctuary," "My Spanish Heart," "Rivers of Light," to name a few. It is not uncommon for a concert to interweave original music, storytelling, and the poetry of great masters such as e.e. cummings, Rumi, Omar Khayyam, Hermann Hesse, among others. Such concerts create a sense of intimacy between performer and listener. Often Confluence rounds out their ensemble with guest artists on flute, harp, or vocals.

Related Links
Copyright 2007, Cortesia Sanctuary