Beyond Spirit Tailings, Set to an original score by composer Philip Aaberg
Ghost Stories With A Haunting Twist
A ghost story can raise goose bumps, but when you add some world-class spooky music, it becomes a frightful delight.
The Montana Historical Society Press and world-class composer and pianist Philip Aaberg and his Sweetgrass Music label have teamed up to put Ellen Baumler's best-selling book of Montana ghost stories, Beyond Spirit Tailings, to music.
The five-CD set includes four CDs with Baumler reading her stories gathered from across Montana with Aaberg's musical interludes and sound effects adding to the ghostly experience. There also is a single CD featuring only Aaberg's musical interpretation of the book.
Baumler and Aaberg spent three days at his recording studio in Chester, Montana, completing the audiobook. It is the Montana Historical Society's first venture into talking books.
Aaberg was a 2002 Grammy Nominee for Live from Montana and the 1995 recipient of the Montana Governor's Award for the Arts, soloist with such prestigious symphonies as the Boston Pops, and sold-out performer at concerts across the world. In his early days, that included playing with the Doobie Brothers, he was called a "deft, ebullient rocker" by Rolling Stone magazine.
"Philip really put me at ease and masterfully caught the mood of the stories that I have gathered over the years," Baumler said. "Montana is lucky to have someone with his great talent return to his home state and get involved in its history and heritage. It's a great honor to have his music enhance my stories."
Aaberg said he became interested in the project after reading Baumler's book and being moved especially by a tale called "Digging Up the Dead," which takes place in Helena's Benton Avenue Cemetery. A nurse by the name of Mary Dunphy was caring for the two children of R. T. Kuehn, when all three died of diphtheria.
The inscription on the children's tombstone reads "How We Miss Them," which became the title of Aaberg's theme song for the CD.
Over the years people reported seeing the spirits of Mrs. Dunphy and the two children walking through the cemetery.
"It is just the most hauntingly beautiful composition you can imagine," Baumler said. "Listening to it was like a movie playing in my mind. I could see Mrs. Dunphy and her two little daughters walking hand in hand through time."
This boxed set of five CDs sells for $25.95, and can be found at bookstores across the state, or ordered directly from the Montana Historical Society museum store , shipping extra, by calling 1-800-243-9900.