I. Hard Rain Comin' - score preview
II. No Time Left To Be Young - score preview
III. Reunion - score preview
Double Concerto for Celtic Fiddle, Bluegrass Fiddle and Orchestra. Commissioned by the Nashville Chamber Orchestra
Audio streaming of entire first movement available on SoundCloud.
Long Journey Home, commissioned by the Nashville Chamber Orchestra, is a work that connects two different traditions of fiddle playing: Irish Folk Music and American Bluegrass. The piece is as much a tone poem as it is a double concerto for two fiddles. In presenting these styles of music, the composition takes the listener on both a historical and emotional journey. At first, the music seeks to convey a sense of time and distance reflective of the geographical and chronological separation between traditional Irish fiddle playing and the relatively more modern American Bluegrass style. As the piece progresses, however, the listener becomes aware of a connection between the two – that one style seems to emerge from the other. It is this aspect of the piece that intrigued and challenged me as a composer. In a sense, this work is really the story of America in the Twentieth Century. It is the story, in particular, of the immigrant who leaves everything behind and begins anew in this country. Through the vehicle of traditional fiddle playing, it is a story told in this piece.
The first movement is entitled Hard Rain Comin’. Just as one can feel the change in the atmosphere prior to a thunderous downpour, this movement seeks to recreate the feeling of the Irish immigrant on the cusp of leaving his homeland. The music is filled with a nervous edginess and a sense of oncoming and inevitable change. The movement also features a prominent theme written in an Irish “Reel” style. There are flashes throughout of a new style of music (Bluegrass) that is forthcoming.
The second movement, No Time Left To Be Young, concerns itself with the immigrant in America. She is older, wiser but fatigued by a lifetime of working. The music reflects her state of mind as she surveys her life. It is nostalgic, a bit melancholy but also sweetly optimistic. Her work has borne fruit. Her family is securely rooted in their new home and the next generation plays happily at her feet. This movement is also dedicated to the memory of my grandmother, Sophia, who after a long life struggled with Alzheimer’s Disease during the time this piece was written and who peacefully reposed not long after its completion.
In the final movement, Reunion, a new generation takes over bringing with it a new energy and style. The music blazes along at a fast clip throughout and features a Bluegrass inspired theme. The Irish style also returns through a reappearance of the theme from the first movement. However, the style has been transformed into a blend of the old and new. In the end, this is the true meaning America has for all its citizens: a place where the old and new encounter one another in endless combinations to form a powerful new community.