Christen Lien Shares New Single “Breathless” Featuring Ari Afsar (American Idol, Hamilton)

*The Following Press Release Was Issued By Big Hassle Media*


“Lien’s essential belief is in the power of music to speak to people in the most profound ways, regardless of whatever differences may exist between them. It’s a message of freedom and connection much needed in our times.” — Anthony DeCurtis
Photo credit: Heather Gildroy
Christen Lien and Ari Afsar (Hamilton, American Idol) have teamed up on new single, “Breathless,” out today. Lien, a contemporary classical musician who creates stunning, emotional work based around the viola and use of loop and effects pedals, creates the instrumental landscape for Afsar’s tender vocals to soar, creating a deep and introspective tune that leaves a lasting mark. The accompanying music video pairs director Heather Gildroy with creative director Dilly Gent (Phoebe Bridgers, Radiohead) to create this stunning companion piece, made by an all-star cast of women. 

On the new single, Christen Lien says:

When we decided to create Breathless, Ari and I wanted it to be a duet, so the interactions between our parts were important. When I play the solos of ‘Breathless,’ I feel like I’m soaring in the air from the way the notes ascend and descend. I’m reaching for the sun, I’m carving through the wind. The solos in ‘Breathless’ feel that beautiful to perform. And then, Ari with her world-class vocals that are both skillfully controlled and emotionally free… what a joy she is to create with! Ari’s technical and emotional range has incredible depth; she always knows when to bring a tender energy, embody anticipation, and when to belt out from her heart. And it is never too much or too little, Ari’s instinct for drama is just right. 

Breathless is an emotional, moody journey of a woman seeking freedom. Experiencing the song with the poetic underwater music video by director Heather Gildroy and creative director Dilly Gent is a hypnotizing experience, and I am proud of what this powerhouse team of women have created.”

Ari Afsar came to public attention on American Idol, before developing the role of Eliza in the original cast of Hamilton and composing her own musical Jeanette.  She was a top contender in American Idol and a former Miss California. On the new collaboration, she says:

Honored to be working with Christen on this piece shedding light on strength, power, and energy despite all odds. ‘Breathless’ focuses on finding your internal light when you feel like there is no hope- something we all strive for every day.”

The music video is directed by Heather Gildroy and features underwater dancer Mary Jeanette Ramsey of the Aqualillies. The creative director of the video is Dilly Gent, who is best known for being Radiohead’s creative director for 17 years and Al Gore’s executive producer/commissioner of 61 short films about climate change. She’s also worked closely with Blur and most recently, Phoebe Bridgers. On the “Breathless” video, she says:

Working with Christen is a bit of a dream as her music is so visually inspiring. Musically I knew this video had to be in slow motion and lyrically, it needed the feeling of being trapped. This immediately led me to thoughts of the video being underwater, which then led me to the wonderful world of the free divers and underwater dancers. We were lucky enough work with the amazing Mary Jeanette Ramsey, who is not a free diver, but can certainly hold her breath long enough for us to get these beautiful shots.”

“Breathless” is a remix of Lien’s song “Horizon” from her album ELPISELPIS is a concept album that tells a cautionary tale about hope. ELPIS, the Greek goddess of hope, is one of the original evils that Zeus placed into Pandora’s Box in Greek mythology. In the story from ancient mythology, Elpis became forever trapped in Pandora’s Box after her failed escape. With the album ELPIS, Christen picked up where the Greek poets left off and continued writing the story. Elpis learns how to escape Pandora’s Box through confronting her repressed fear and anger, finds freedom in our modern world, and for the first time since being together inside Pandora’s Box, reunites with all of the evils that Zeus created.

In the original ELPIS album, Horizon takes place after Elpis escapes her prison and finds freedom by burning down Pandora’s Box. With this remix and single “Breathless,” singer Ari Afsar takes on the role of Elpis and shares the complex emotions of what it means to be free and alive in today’s world. “Breathless” was produced by Adam Moseley (U2, The Cure) and mastered by Grammy-award winner John Greenham (Billie Eilish, Sam Smith, Katy Perry, Lindsey Stirling). 

Christen Lien has performed for the Dalai Lama, hosted a TED talk and played Burning Man in addition to her own headline shows. During the pandemic, Lien has become a regular performer on Clubhouse and has played for over 30k people on the platform. Lien recently completed a 33-day challenge where she performed live daily in her Cosmic Balcony club, where she continues to play full concerts every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 3:33pm PT. CH founder Paul Davison join the stage during her rooms, bringing nearly two and a half thousand followers with him, to listen to her perform. Known for the emotional intensity, philosophical deep dives and widely diverse mix of club members, Cosmic Balcony is an experience of creative perspective that’s both interactive and multi-disciplinary. 

Be sure to join an upcoming Clubhouse live event to experience Christen Lien’s music, community and the movement she’s creating. “Breathless” is streaming on all platforms now and there’s more on the horizon from Christen Lien — stay tuned. 
Photo credit: Heather Gildroy

Christen Lien is an avant-garde composer and performing artist with classical roots who creates an innovative brand of musical storytelling. The viola is at the heart of her music-making; however, she also incorporates multiple instruments and synthesizers, and the use of guitar effect processors and looping pedals, to create a multi-faceted landscape that bridges electronic, industrial, and classical genres.

Her multimedia performances communicate stories of mythology and imagination, politics and prose, hope and empowerment. 

Christen has performed for diplomats, Fortune 100 executives, heads of state, royalty, celebrities and has inspired many crowds around the globe. She has performed for His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Google, the Obama White House, Burning Man, Forbes Under 30 Summit, Berklee College of Music, Nexus Global, MIT and the United States Institute of Peace. Venues such as the House of Blues and the REDCAT Theatre and museums such as the de Young, Legion of Honor and the Detroit Institute of Arts have showcased her live performances. Christen’s sound design work is on exhibit at the National Museum of Qatar, where she created sound design for a 50-foot video installation by John Sanborn, commissioned by the Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and the Doha Film Institute. 

Her concept album ELPIS continues a long-lost story of Greek mythology and is a cautionary tale about the spectrum of hope. The album and story was adapted into a ballet production with acclaimed choreographer Amy Seiwert, where dancers were choreographed to both Christen’s live musical performance and storytelling.

Christen is an active citizen who stands up for her beliefs. While serving as the Executive Director of the Ann Arbor Film Festival, Christen won a First Amendment lawsuit against the State of Michigan to protect artists’ freedom of speech.
Photo credit: Heather Gildroy Photo credit: Heather Gildroy 
For more information on Christen Lien, please visit:

Website | Clubhouse | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud | Bandcamp | YouTube

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