About

Life makes art.

Vandalia River is the creative outlet of R. Hall, a pianist, songwriter, and music teacher in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. 

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

You can also listen to the music of Vandalia River wherever you stream or download.

Now Playing: A New Piano Solo

There is a moment in late winter when the wind brings warmth, and you know that this time the weather isn’t teasing. The trees are still skeletal, but the new grass glows beneath. The cold is still bitter, but it beats retreat. 

In a favorite children's book, back-to-back blizzards force settlers in a South Dakota town to stay mostly housebound from October to April. School is closed, company is scarce, and supplies are scarcer. After months of being shut in an uninsulated house with a small fire, the protagonist wakes one night to the sound of wind - and another sound she cannot recognize. When she realizes it is water dripping as the snow melts, she jumps out of bed and cries, “The Chinook is blowing!” 

Her father teases her later. “Waking us all from a sound sleep to tell us the wind was blowing! As if the wind hadn’t blown for months!” 

“I said the Chinook,” she replies. “That makes all the difference.” 

This is the moment the new single from Vandalia River is about. But it’s not just about the weather. It’s about the moment you know your hope is not in vain. 

It’s about the moment the miles are behind you and the finish line in sight - the moment the paper is turned in and you know it’s good - the moment the family van pauses at Grandmother’s gate after 15 hours on the road - the moment the baby is born but she’s not in your arms yet - the moment the groom sees the bride but the vows must still be said. The fatigue is still in your bones, but the sight of rest comforts your heart. 

Many of us are longing for a moment like that to come. 

At least we’re no longer waiting for spring. At least it is here now, with all its light and bloom to cheer us along our course. 

“The Chinook Is Blowing” is now available just about anywhere you listen to music. 

Follow Vandalia River on Spotify.

music inspired by home

"Life isn't a support system for art. It's the other way around." - Stephen King

My first impression of Harpers Ferry was similar to that of many others: I was struck by the beauty of the landscape. The confluence of two shapely and storied rivers - the Potomac and Shenandoah - nestled between the upward thrusting land creates a panorama unique to the Blue Ridge Mountains. The scene was enough to give Thomas Jefferson and George Washington something to write home about, and every year thousands visit Harpers Ferry when the weather is nice. 

But once here, visitors encounter invitations for somber reflection as they see the battlefields, the wax figure of John Brown, and numerous flood level markers painted on a lower town building, explaining why old town Harpers Ferry is not what it used to be. 

To this day, a resident might unearth white leaden bullets when digging a new garden bed. A young couple might get engaged yards away from where a bridge was destroyed in war. Parents walk their children by soldier-dug trenches and take family pictures on former encampments. 

So much beauty, so much battle - neither ever completely safe from the other. 

This place has been the landscape of my family’s life for seven years. Interacting with it has brought life-enriching memories, opportunities, and friendships. It's been the backdrop to some really hard stuff, too. Every time my hands spread over the piano keys, the fields and hills looked in through the windows, giving me themes that have shown up in the music. 

The music is now shared in a collection of six pieces named for areas of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. You can hear and download it below or anywhere else you stream or download music. A limited supply of CDs is also 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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If you like what you hear, let me know if you want to get news about new releases and live performances.