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Debut album 'Equanimity' is dream come true for computer consultant

Ryan Stewart is a computer consultant, but his passion is music. And for years he has been bouncing around the idea of making a CD.

This week, his dream came true. On Thursday, his debut album "Equanimity" on the Stone Angel Music label went on sale at Deseret Book. And on Saturday, he will perform a CD release concert at Riverton Music.

The music on the 10 tracks ranges from lush orchestration to solo piano.

"I have had some of these themes in my head since high school," said Stewart during an lunch-break interview. "And that's a while ago. I graduated in 1990."

Stewart's journey into music started with his mother.

"She was a classically trained pianist and organist," he said. "She passed away when I was 12, but she gave me the gift, if you want to call it that. I was lucky to have her develop my love for music."

Stewart's influences range from classical works of Rachmaninoff, Chopin and Debussy to jazz icon Harry Connick Jr., New Age artists Vangelis and film soundtrack composers Hans Zimmer and John Williams.

"Their music is an open space that gets filled in with imagination," Stewart said.

A few months ago, Stewart decided the themes running around his head needed to be recorded, "if only to hand out to my family."

So, he sat down, finished composing the songs and began recording them in his home mini-studio.

"My knowledge of computers obviously helped me record the music," he said. "There were times when I had mini-crises. The music I had in my head wasn't translating so well with what was being recorded. And I need to credit my wife and two daughters for understanding what I was trying to do.

"The days when things were going right were the days when I understood that I was using the computer as a tool to help me get to my goal."

Still, like a lot of artists, Stewart also faced uncertainty.

"There were times when fear crept in as I was recording the CD," he said. "Are people going to like the music? Are they going to be open to it?

"I kept thinking those thoughts. But I guess my dream of actually making the CD drove me to continue. I kept arguing inside that music is my hobby, and what do I have to lose?"

Those arguments led to the CD title, "Equanimity," Stewart said.

"The title reflects the times in my life where I faced difficult challenges," he said. "The title embodied some of those challenges. The answer of dealing with those trials is to find equanimity. Find the joy and challenges in life and move on."

If you go . . .

What: Ryan Stewart, piano

Where: Riverton Music, 9491 S. 255 West, Sandy

When: Saturday, 7 p.m.

How much: free