KIVA -- Live at the Forest Inn

This wonderful live album was recorded at the Forest Inn, a large Victorian ballroom in the Seminary at Forest Glen, Maryland. It is the first release to include new KIVA member David Landis and the return of Diana McFadden. It also features the fantastic vocals of Amikaeyla Gaston, longtime KIVA alumni Nicole Cooley in an unusual arrangement of the traditional song "Twa Corbies", and award winning harpist Olvardil Prydwyn on harp (on "The Basin") and cittern (on "Twa Corbies"). This CD was nominated for a DC Wammie (Washington Area Music) Award for 1998, as best New Age Album.

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The Forest Inn and Our Experiences There

"Ye Forest Inne", was built as a hotel in Forest Glen (outside of Washington DC) in 1887. After the hotel failed a few years later, it was turned into a casino. At the turn of the century it was bought by John and Vesta Cassedy, who started the National Park Seminary School for Girls. They greatly expanded the grounds and the excentric collection of buildings. Later it was sold to the U.S. Army, which used it as an annex to Walter Reed Hospital. The buildings and some of the grounds were given Historict District status and a group called Save Our Seminary raised funds to restore the Japanese pagoda. Eventually, the site was sold to a developer who turned much of the site into condos and senior housing. Today you can rent the ballroom for $500 per hour with a 3 hr minimum fee. The building code allows for a maximum of 350 people. Check out the pictures of the rennovated ballroom here The Rennovated Forest Inn Ballroom.
        The Cassedys built the many fanciful buildings that grace the grounds -- a Medieval castle, Dutch windmill, Japanese pagoda, Greek Odeon temple, and others. The ballroom where we recorded is over 100 feet long and 60 feet high, with a large stage, two tiers of balconies, crystal chandeliers, and stained glass skylights all around the beam-buttressed, vaulted ceilings. Greek and Roman statues decorate niches around the ballroom and can also be found throughout the wooded grounds. The ballroom within the Forest Inn is now one of the only partially preserved buildings at this American site of ruins.
        The Forest Inn was a really beautiful place to create music. The sound in the ballroom was perfect -- not too boomy and beautifully echoing. Our audience built throughout the day until we had a great crowd to sing with us in the call and response chants that wound down our recording session.  The ballroom was pretty run down and this was the final live performance before the army stopped anyone using the place until it was sold and refirbished sometime after 2003.

        Listening to how the songs turned out while mixing down in the studio has been wonderful. KIVA is undoubtedly the tightest and best we've ever been as a group. There are several new songs and updated versions of our previously recorded songs as well. KIVA is now -- Ariana, Nicole, Eve, Diana S., Diana M., Dave, and introducing Amikaeyla. These recordings also have guest harpist Olvardil Prydwyn. With the 3 and 4 part harmonies and rich instrumentation from cello to mandolin and hand percussion to Celtic harp KIVA's sound has expanded to encompasse worldbeat and folk styles to create a sound all our own.
At one time there were restoration efforts going on and then the complex was sold to a developer who turned many of the buildings into condos and added new condo buildings onto the grounds. The building that KIVA had performed in was turned into an office building for the condo complex. To see information about the past efforts to save the buildings often called "follies" go to Save Our Seminary.

Ariana Lightningstorm
April 1997 - Updated June 7, 2021


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Revision Date: June 7, 2021