Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Frontier fiddle concerto by Barbara Harbach for silent Western

The image is borrowed from the Flickr of Cindy Tomczyk; it belongs to her, not us.

Barbara Harbach graciously accepted the first real Poetry Scores commission, to score Paul Muldoon's great elegy Incantata (the premiere is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 30 at the Touhill).

Barbara is a "real" composer, in the sense that her work is widely performed and recorded by symphony orchestras and chamber groups. But she also has the right sort of spirit for improvisational, eclectic, inclusive characters like Poetry Scores.

So I feel comfortable tossing her ideas as readily as I toss them to my post-progressive rock innovator buddies on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, my rock star penpal from Northern Italy, the folk fiddlers of Central Illinois, and our bread and butter, the survivors of the St. Louis music scene.

Barbara has now pitched in not once but twice in response to my latest call for source recordings. The poet and I are poring over source recordings for scoring O sadness over rage O rage over sadness by K. Curtis Lyle. We intend to come up with something that will work well musically as a silent Western, since our thing is to go from long poem to musical score to silent movie, and we want to make a silent Western.

Barbara works fast as a whip, so since posting up her Freedom Suite for String Quintet I have had to spread it around a little before circling back to the violin concerto she sent me. Most recently I posted some Chirps Smith old-time fiddle tunes; what could only be called frontier fiddle tunes. With Chirps in mind and ear, then, Barbara's Frontier Fancies for Violin and Orchestra should fit right in.


Frontier Fancies for Violin and Orchestra

By Barbara Harbach



Recorded by Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra; Kirk Trevor, conductor.


The poet and I are coproducing the score, and I have been liking Curtis' picks from my postings. For example, to the Chirps Smith selection, Curtis responded, "I especially liked 'Illinois Cotillion'. It has a certain poignancy in the cadence that I like very much. I'm thinking a certain amount of very slow tunes in the piece."

This violin concerto certainly fits the bill for "a certain amount of very slow tunes". All three movements of the piece come in at just over eleven minutes. So we could even incorporate all of it and still have fifty minutes or so to play with; we are finding that an hour is a nice time to work with for a Poetry Scores silent movie.

I have already broken Barbara into the idea of fragmenting her previously recorded work, provisionally retitling it, and incorporating it, collage-style, into larger musical patterns; and as I have said, she gets it. This could be fun.


Barbara Harbach's liner notes to Frontier Fancies for Violin and Orchestra are brief but to the point:

"This exuberant violin concerto features spirited interaction between violin and orchestra. Fiddleflirt is a dual of speed and energy. Twilight Dream is an evocative aria and lush respite before the wild tarantella of Dancedevil."


Frontier Fancies for Violin and Orchestra
is published and copyrighted by Barbara Harbach with VivacePress, University of Missouri-St. Louis, 2010. It is recorded by Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra on Orchestra Music of Barbara Harbach – Symphony, Reverie & Rhapsody, Vol. 1, MSR Classics 1252, Newtown, CT, 2007



Six Chirps Smith fiddle tunes for a silent Western score

"Alcohol and Used Father Peyote" with Mike Burgett
From car jam to lost rock bands to Black Indian Cowboy poem
Barbara Harbach string quintet for Black Indian Cowboy score
Spaghetti Western music for O sadness over rage O rage over sadness


The image is borrowed from the Flickr of Cindy Tomczyk; it belongs to her, not us.

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