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.