Adirondack Sketches: Five Mountain Dances
for Fiddle, Native American Flute, Hammered Dulcimer, Banjo, and Piano (2018)
approx. 17 min 10 sec
II. "Lonesome Song"
premiered February 2019
John Kirk, fiddle
Werner John, Native American flute
Dan Duggan, hammered dulcimer
Scott Hopkins, banjo
Kara Pitkin, piano
Philip Spaeth, Conductor
Mayfield Presbyterian Church
About Adirondack Sketches
Adirondack Sketches: Five Mountain Dances (2018) is a piece that grew out of my love for the Adirondack Mountains of New York where I grew up, as well as an interest in the traditional music of the Adirondack region. In the tradition of the Baroque dance suites and other such concert music traditions, this piece sets out to borrow folk music styles and present them in a concert or chamber music setting. The difference here, however, is that the piece is scored to incorporate the traditional instruments themselves along with a piano accompaniment. I have also sought to translate these instruments and styles into my own musical language. In researching this piece, it became very clear to me that Adirondack music must always be very personal to its composers, songwriters, and performers, and so I have sought to make this as personal an artistic expression as possible, while also honoring the traditions from which the piece borrows. The use of quotation marks for each of the movement titles is intended to signify that these pieces are not to be heard as pure expressions of the traditional forms, but as impressions from the composer. Most of these dance styles grow out of the Northern European tradition. The exception to this is the second movement, "Lonesome Song", which takes its name from the music composed by solo Native American flutists and known for its freedom of expression, composed here as a kind of free continuous variation, eventually involving the entire ensemble.
The choice of instrumentation of this suite is to represent the many world influences that have found their way into the musical tradition of the Adirondacks. The fiddle and hammered dulcimer hail from different areas of Northern Europe, the Native American flute from the United States, and the banjo from Africa (with American adaptations). The occasional somewhat "orchestral" writing in the piano owes itself to my vision of rearranging and expanding this music as a concerto grosso for traditional instruments with chamber orchestra.
You can read more about the creation of this piece here.
Below are video recordings of the final two movements - IV: "Waltz" and V: "Hornpipe" - from the premiere in February 2019.