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THIS LAND - Track Listing


1. Theme and Fanfare for the Road & Variation I – Oklahoma Stomp Dance 4:44
Oklahoma Stomp Dance is my own melody, depicting Woody attending a nearby pow-wow and hearing an Oklahoma stomp dance of the Western Cherokee on a Saturday night through dawn of Sunday morning. During the dance, slightly altered versions of the theme appear as they do in almost every other variation. The variation ends quietly, joined by fragments of the initial fanfare, blending with the Stomp Dance melody and the pow-wow drums.

2. Variation II – Sunday Morning Church Service in Okemah 6:54
Sunday Morning Church Service in Okemah is a musical portrait of bygone times. The oboe, clarinet and harp introduce a mournful melody, restated by the strings, and then the theme is heard as Woody might have heard it in church played on the organ, but with extended harmonies. The theme is later stated by the English horn and harp and traces of the fanfare are woven in with the first mournful melody and distant church chimes are heard as the variation ends.

3. Variation III – Prelude and Pampa Texas Barn Dance 2:45
Prelude and Pampa Texas Barn Dance celebrates the beginning of Woody's journeys from Oklahoma through America. The strings gentle introduction to the dance is followed by the double reeds, indicated in the score to sound like the drone of Celtic Uilleann Pipes, joined by the traditional sounds of Celtic percussion, to introduce a lively original melody which I composed in the style of Irish folkloric music. As the Barn Dance progresses, the trombones and tuba enter, playing the theme as a cantus firmus, in an elongated version beneath the dance melody itself. It is as if no matter where Woody goes, the melody of This Land is Your Land stays with him through all his travels, and eventually becomes the melody used to set the timeless lyrics of his song.

4. Variation IV – Sonado con Mexico (Dreaming of Mexico) 7:18
Sonando con Mexico (Dreaming of Mexico) is a musical portrait of the Mexican workers with whom Woody spent time, and about whom he wrote some of his most memorable songs. The opening trumpet call is marked in the score to be played cuivre ed eroico, al torero (brassy and heroic, like the opening music for a Mexican bullfight). The introduction is followed by a nostalgic melody in the strings, suggesting the workers dreaming of their home and families south of the border. The melody is developed and leads to a tuba solo, reminiscent of the Mexican polkas played by folk ensembles throughout the Southwestern United States. The theme returns in counterpoint with the french horns weaving through the Mexican song as an obbligato, showing again how Woody could not get the melody and the idea for the song out of his mind during his travels.

5. Variation V – Dust Bowl Dirge 5:28
Dust Bowl Dirge for strings alone, honors the brave people who survived the national nightmare of losing everything during this ecological catastrophe and still found a way to survive.The melancholy minor variation of the theme is introduced by the violas and then restated by the whole string family.

6. Variation VI – Street Sounds of New York's Neighborhoods

7) Variation VI – Caribbean Street Festival 2:37
8) Variation VI – Klezmer Wedding Celebration and Middle Eastern Bazaar 2:56
9) Variation VI – Salvation Army Hymn 1:10
10) Variation VI – Block Party Jam and Finale 3:13

Street Sounds of New York's Neighborhoods is a compilation of many kinds of music that Woody loved to hear when walking through the neighborhoods of Manhattan and Brooklyn in the years he lived in New York, an era when music was played everywhere out of doors during the warm seasons. We hear the lively sounds of a Caribbean street festival, with the rhythms of the West Indies, Cuba, and Puerto Rico, and once again the theme appears in counterpoint in the middle of the march. The festive sounds of the street festival is followed by a Klezmer wedding celebration and a Middle Eastern bazaar, where again the theme returns, superimposed over the exotic sounds of Greek, Turkish and Armenian folkloric musical styles.

We then hear Salvation Army Hymn, recalling the ensembles of volunteer musicians who were a fixture on many street corners of New York City's neighborhoods during the late 1940s. This is a hymn-like version of the theme (using harmonies far from the three chords of the original song). It is performed by the brass family, joined by a hand bell, tambourine and field drum. The same extended harmonies of the Salvation Army Hymn are used again for the next section, "block party jam", evoking the sounds of the big swing bands of the day, often used to welcome home the returning veterans of World War II to their neighborhoods. Finally the Theme returns in a stately fashion with the original Fanfare for the Road playing in counterpoint, followed by a restating of the opening of the piece and a triumphant ending.

The biographical nature of THIS LAND became the point of departure to inspire me to write the best piece that I could, just as Hector Berlioz did when he composed Harold in Italy, inspired by the life and times of Lord Byron.

11. THEME AND VARIATIONS ON RED RIVER VALLEY FOR FLUTE AND STRINGS 14:20


 

 

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