Blue Mountain

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Blue Mountain  for Strings  [12 minutes]

1. Daybreak  [6.5 minutes]

2. Sundown  [5 minutes]

Performed by the Colburn Chamber Orchestra with Maxim Eshkenazy (Conductor) for a Sundays Live Broadcast at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Instrumentation:  Solo Violin I, Solo Violin II, Solo Viola, Solo Cello, Violin I, Violin II, Viola, Cello, & Bass.

Year Composed:  2008

Program Notes:  

The string instrument has deep roots in American folk heritage, especially the bass and fiddle.  I have always been fascinated by the playing styles and communal activities that surround mountain music and bluegrass bands.  Blue Mountain explores the locale, energy, and improvisatory style of these genres of music.  

Much of this music developed in and around the Blue Ridge Mountains of the Appalachian Range with beautiful, broad, and majestic landscapes that stretch on seemingly to eternity.  The first movement, Daybreak, paints a picture of the sun coming up over the horizon, revealing all of the majesty of the geography, foliage, and fauna.  Solo melodies give the impression of life waking up while the orchestra plays notes on open strings, tuning up their instruments for the new day.  The piece then moves to a chorale like ostinato that flows in and out of the foreground while the morning melodies weave in and out of the texture with light, dancing lines bouncing about.  The texture goes back and forth between the full orchestra and solo string quartet as the images change from close-up views to wide panoramas.  This all steadily builds to a climax as the day settles in. 

The second movement, Sundown, begins with the solo quartet tuning their instruments up again for the festival at night.  The party is bustling with excitement around a bonfire as people dance, clap, and sing.  The soloists take turns showing off as they toss the melody around from player to player and the orchestra retorts in a call and response style.  The calamity builds to a loud shout chorus until the soloists take over again and the broad melodies of the first movement come back into the scene, reminding us of the grand surrounding.  The bass players then kick in with a walking bass line for the ensemble to “improvise” around until it builds back up again to the shout chorus.  Sundown races to the end with some last minute showing off before the final exclamation. 

© 2014 Roger Przytulski Music • All Rights Reserved