Music By Will Ackerman: The Gathering, 4 Guitars

Universally recognized as the preeminent pioneer in the new age music movement, and the founder of Windham Hill Records, Will Ackerman’s career spans more than three decades of remarkable vision, single-minded determination, fervent business savvy, and “a thorough love of the mystery of making music.” The glory years at Windham Hill with Ackerman at the helm launched the recording careers of many acoustic instrumentalists. The primary influence Windham Hill cast on contemporary music emanated from folk roots, the acoustic guitar, and the piano. This legacy remains with Ackerman in a uniquely prolific and peerless career.

Will lives in Windham County, Vermont outside Brattleboro. On this beautiful spot stands Imaginary Road Studios, a three-story structure and state-of-the-art recording facility. The walls of Imaginary Road Studios are lined with Gold and Platinum Records representing the millions of albums sold when Windham Hill Records rose to prominence. The first of these is George Winston’s 1980 solo piano release, Autumn. This album played a pivotal role in Ackerman’s life as a producer at the beginning of his career and the transformation of Windham Hill Records from a cottage industry into a corporate giant. His ability to distinguish music that resonates on a deeply fundamental level with a wide variety of listeners has never wavered; it’s only gotten better with age.

Imaginary Road Studios records acoustic instrumentalists from across the country and from around the world. Piano and guitar continue to be the most popular solo instruments recorded and produced under Ackerman’s direction.

The reflective nature of Will’s instrumental music is best captured in a Billboard review: “The music of Will Ackerman has that timeless introspection that has made his music so enduring.”

Among his many accomplishments, Ackerman is a Grammy Award-winning recording artist with thirteen recordings in his discography. Since his debut In Search of the Turtle’s Navel in 1976, Will released a new album about once every two to three years. Three consecutive releases, Sound of Wind Driven Rain (1998), Hearing Voices (2001), and Returning (2004) were nominated for Grammy Awards in the New Age category. In 2005, Returning won the Best New Age Grammy Award. He writes, “Returning was an opportunity to capture my career as I hope it will be remembered. These are new recordings of my favorite pieces spanning 35 years of music writing. Over years of performing these pieces, they’ve evolved nuance that was invisible to me then. I honestly had to make this record for myself…the Grammy Award only proved to me that it had worked for others as well.”


Art By: Abby Howard Murphy

Northeast Florida artist Abby Howard Murphy developed a love of place and an appreciation for natural wonders as a child. This self-taught artist had some inspiration from a fearless travel agent mother, a creative DIY father and an artist babysitter. Seeing Monet’s water lilies at the Louvre at age 10 sparked an affinity for combinations of bright colors that grew into a special appreciation for American impressionists. Snorkeling reefs and a road trip to Marineland sealed a passion for the marine world. In her teens, stewardship included leading community cleanups and recycling efforts, advocating environmental issues and even talent show fundraisers for the National Wildlife Federation as well as a self-study in stage design. Before leaving high school she had several art commissions for local doctors’ offices and her Christmas character ornaments in local stores.

At the School of International Service at The American University, she specialized in marine biology, limnology and law of the sea; interned for the International Institute for Environment and Development on a project for the United Nations; created an illustrated guide to dune plants of the Turks and Caicos Islands; and worked on stage sets for the Connecticut Repertory Theater-Nutmeg Summer Series and Barn Theater in New Jersey.

Abby’s perspective and subject matter continued to develop during a professional career that spans addressing hazardous waste at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; consulting for the U.S. Corps of Engineers on Everglades restoration; launching the University of North Florida Environmental Center; educating youth and adults on the St. Johns River as a volunteer for SJRWMD; and assisting the North Florida Land Trust preserve special places for generations.

While a bank executive and consultant, she continued to paint; winning regional awards. Her murals grace several cottages at the Sunshine Foundation, granting wishes to chronically and terminally ill children. As a mom, she continues to champion environmental and children’s issues and, when not in the studio, volunteers in the art classroom at Twin Lakes Elementary and Stanton drama productions.

Working primarily in oil or acrylic, seascapes and skyscapes are often inspired by her own photography and world travels. Abby’s vibrant colors capture the play of light on water and clouds… or a child entranced just at the ocean’s edge… as she still is.

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