Folk Music / Now Ensemble Works / Concert Music

Folk Music

Folk Music, 2004 (10′)

for NOW Ensemble (flute, clarinet, electric guitar, double bass, and piano)

Folk Music was written in the summer of 2004, for the House Band project at the Tanglewood Music Center. Steve Mackey led the composition Fellows in a performance-oriented workshop, where we performed each others’ works, with assistance from a few brave ringers from the ranks of the instrumental Fellows and the New Fromm Players. I’ve had a long personal relationship with Tanglewood, having visited the festival every summer since I was born. My family spent time in the Berkshires, and I attended college in the region, so my experience at Tanglewood was colored with a deep sense of nostalgia and an overwhelming feeling of arrival and belonging. Folk Music begins with a lightness and sweetness that reflects my joy at being in Lenox, and takes the material in a direction that emphasizes group interaction and grooving together. While writing the piece, I knew that I would arrange it for NOW Ensemble (substituting a flute for the original violin part), and that sort of ensemble work is something that we do well. But more than anything, this piece is about a frank expression of joyful living, tinged with the sadness that is always also present in any true account of life – something that one hears in the best folk music of all cultures. The title comes both from that sentiment and from the material that forms the basis of the piece; snippets of what sound like borrowed folk songs are heard throughout the work, including a high bass solo that finds its beauty in its fragility, and a section of rocking out that suggests that we have our own living folk cultures in the early twenty-first century United States.