About

Life makes art.

Vandalia River is the creative outlet of R. Hall, a pianist, songwriter, and music teacher in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. The vision of Vandalia River is to reap the art of ordinary life by creating music to distill the beauty of every day living - and encourage others to do the same.

You'll find here original music and a weekly blog with thoughts on music, music in the home, and the Christian life. 

now available

Battlescapes

Vandalia River

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Battlescapes

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Using folklike themes with subtle drama, this collection of six solo piano pieces evokes the natural beauty of historic Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, while respecting the somber aspects of its Civil War history. Listen to Battlescapes on iTunes/Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon, and other streaming services. 

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    Schoolhouse Ridge

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    Murphy Farm

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    Lower Town

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    The Heights

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    Virginius Island

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    The Confluence (Like a River Glorious)

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Solo Piano

Pensée No. 1

Vandalia River

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Pensée No. 1

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Pensée No. 1 is a brief instrumental piano piece with an ounce of pretty and a dash of suspense. Available on most streaming and retail platforms, including Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon.

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Lyrical Songs

Heaven and Earth: Scripture Songs for the Old and New

R. Hall, featuring Kellan Gash

Acoustic, catchy, and mostly not annoying: these songs are the home-grown product of a church Scripture memory program. After a long process of writing and refining, vocalist Kellan Gash and sound engineer Derryck Birt helped R. Hall bring the album to the next level.

​Now these songs are a gift to you. Listen, use, and share without compulsion to pay. A PDF of chord sheets is included in the album download.

Also available on many streaming platforms, including Spotify and YouTube!

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If you like what you hear, I'd love to send you news and blog updates every Friday.

From the blog

What I learned in jail 

“Her name’s Becky.”

That’s the description I once heard of the average listener of Christian radio. 

Having answered to that name before, I searched inside for a witty comeback and never found one. 

I’m not enamored with the music of Christian radio and keep close company with a few who’d block the frequency if they could. But one day I left the radio behind me and walked Inside - Inside, where a group of women dressed in orange were waiting for a Bible study to begin. 

It’s easy to think Us and Them when…

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The best way to know the land 

The best way to know the land is to walk it.*

The best way to see its paths, pools, bends, brooks, avenues, alleys, flowers, fauna, shallows, surprises, features, and functions is to move through it on your two feet. 

This observation doesn't stop at the earth. The land is its people, too. Half of the neighbors we have met we know simply because of a walk down the street. Some of these connections are dormant. Others have led to vibrant friendships and opportunities. 

We live where we live because of…

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Capturing a piece of life in the Indiana EP 

I'm still testing out this analogy, but I often think that life is like a vine. Beauty - the delight and interpretation we derive from life - is the wine, extracted from the vine in a process of violence and stillness. Good art is a vessel that can carry the beauty to the consumer. It can be ornamented like a royal goblet or plain like a Baptist communion cup as long as there is something inside.

I love it when people use their art to capture the meaning and beauty close to home, from the people they’re…

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A poem for Epiphany 

 

Journey of the Magi

by T. S. Eliot

‘A cold coming we had of it, 
Just the worst time of the year 
For a journey, and such a long journey: 
The ways deep and the weather sharp, 
The very dead of winter.’ 
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory, 
Lying down in the melting snow. 
There were times we regretted 
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces, 
And the silken girls bringing sherbet. 
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling 
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women, 
And the night-fires…

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The risk of inaction 

We finally got one of those family photos where everyone looks pretty good in a beautiful destination. Now I know why they are a popular thing to share:

They’re costly.

There’s a lot of risk represented in the picture. It was taken on our first family tent camping trip. (“Tent camping” has possibly scared you away already.) So much could have gone wrong. Our boy could’ve gotten sick. Our van could’ve broken down (this happened before and canceled a vacation). Our never-opened tent from Aldi could’ve…

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