Fragile Gifts

“As we begin our slow descent into the shadowlands of Trump, it comes as balm to the soul, this gorgeous CD by Anne Hills and Jay Ansill: Fragile Gifts. It has everything soon to be in short supply: beauty, intelligence, deep strength. It is going on to my hard drive, never to depart. Thank you, Anne! Thank you, Jay!”
                                                                                                                — Tom Paxton

Fragile Gifts by Anne Hills & Jay Ansill


NEW!! (released August 5, 2016)
Fragile Gifts (2016)
Hand & Heart Music HHM2016


One of the most beautiful voices in contemporary folk joins forces with a multi-instrumentalist composer and arranger for a set of songs (and one instrumental) that fuses folk music, poetry and classical music (string quartet and a full orchestra).

Jay Ansill writes: “In my memory, it seemed to come out of the blue. Anne Hills called and asked if I’d be her sideman for a gig nearby. I don’t even remember if I’d officially met her before that. (We must have met. What kind of crazy woman would ask a complete stranger to play a concert with her!?) It did feel to me like a certain magic happened when we played. It wasn’t just musical, but in lots of ways our sensibilities seemed completely in sync, and before long we were playing together every chance we could. And talking on the phone most days when we couldn’t. We played all up and down the east coast, and I joined Anne for several of her December tours through the midwest, and we worked together in a play in Philadelphia and wrote songs together … and twenty some years later, the magic has never let up.

“A series of opportunities put the idea of this recording in motion. I’d been writing and arranging for a string quartet and, when I could get people to play them, woodwinds and brass. And Anne has always been looking for new adventures in music. We found ourselves both interested in creating a body of music that combined our folk inclinations with more formal instrumental settings. I couldn’t be happier with the results.”

Here’s a track list with a few samples:

  1. Follow That Road (Hills) 6:34
  2. Rowan (Ansill/Hills) 2:42
  3. Allie (Graves/Ansill) 4:25
  4. Epitalami (Wedding Prayer) (Alcover/Bibiloni) 3:52
  5. The Scarecrow (L&M Waterson) 4:09
  6. Lover’s Knot (Ansill/Hills) 3:39
  7. Counting the Beats (Graves/Ansill) 3:08
  8. Sonnet: Fragile Gift (Hills/Ansill) 3:32
  9. Winter Roses (Hills/Ansill) 3:19
  10. Some Boats (Hills) 3:43
  11. One Hard Look (Graves/Ansill) 2:14
  12. When You Are Old (Yeats/Ansill) 2:39
  13. Suite: Capvespre a Deià (Ansill) 6:37
  14. Under the Olives (Graves/Ansill) 2:43

Click HERE to download the complete lyrics for the CD.

The Musicians:

Vocals: Anne Hills

The Quartet: (All except 3,7)
Violins: Lawrence Major & Jen Bolcar
Viola: Geoffrey Baker
Cello: Sachino Tsinadze

Harp: Alison Simpson (6, 10)
Flute: Susan Winsberg (1, 2, 6, 7), Roberta Goren (9, 13)
Oboe, English horn: Janet Easlee (1, 2, 6, 9, 13)
Clarinet: Brian Adamczyk (1, 2, 6), Nathan Snyder (13)
Bassoon: Eric Wilson (2, 13)
French horn: Kim Newell (1, 2, 6, 9, 13)
Trumpet, Piccolo Trumpet, Flugelhorn: Bob Wagner (1, 3, 6)
Trombone: T.J. Harris (1, 6), Gail Wagner (3)
Tuba: Stephen Rhindress (1, 3, 6)
Additional Violins: Myanna Harvey (1, 6), Nancy Brown (1, 6),
Scott Hensil (9), Jessica Tosti (9)
Additional Viola: Nancy Brown 1,6
Contrabass: Andrew Nelson (1, 6, 9), Jordi Gaspar (9)
Celtic harp: Jay Ansill (3, 7)

Produced by Jay Ansill and Anne Hills
All Arrangements by Jay Ansill
Robert Graves poetry is ©The Trustees of the Robert Graves Copyright Trust
Recorded at Cheesy Road Studios by Jay Ansill
(Anne’s vocals at Artfarm Recording Studio by Sean Boyd)
Mixed at Artfarm Recording Studio by Sean Boyd (with Jay and Anne)
Mastered by Charlie Pilzer at Airshow Takoma Park
Cover painting by Claudia Balant, “Matinada a Deià”
CD Design by Mark D. Moss

To purchase this CD ($15 plus p&h):

or print an order form to mail with a check.
To purchase a digital download ($9.99/album or $.99/track):