Opus 618

Folk Fantasies (2005)

for Solo Euphonium, String Quartet, Percussion

  • Highland Ballad (Scotland)
  • Ceremonial (Nigeria)
  • Circle Dance (America)

Duration: 12 min.

Dedication: for Matthew Murchison

Commission: Commissioned by Matthew Murchison

Publisher: Musik Fabrik

Performance materials available from the publisher.

Folk Fantasies (2005) for solo euphonium, string quartet, and percussion was commissioned, inspired by, and is dedicated to euphoniumist Matthew Murchison. When we first began discussing the idea of a new chamber euphonium concerto, Matthew specifically requested a piece connected to folk music. In recent years, he has been interested in taking the euphonium into folk music contexts in which it is not normally found. Thus, the idea behind this work became that of creating a concert piece connected to folk traditions.

Although this work is heavily connected to folk music, it does not quote or use any actual folk tunes or material directly. For each of the three movements, I began by composing an “original folk tune” within that national style. Each movement of the work is then an “arrangement” in my own musical style of my original “folk tune.” The formal and harmonic language is simple, direct, and uncluttered throughout, as is appropriate for folk music.

The first movement, Highland Ballad (Scotland), begins and ends with lyrical music. The middle sections contain settings of the basic melody—first presented over a bagpipe-like drone (with interjections) and then in a full harmonization.

The second movement, Ceremonial (Nigeria), combines a harmonic refrain along with a simple melody in the Nigerian/Yoruban folk style. As the movement progresses, the euphonium plays the role of a song-leader, adding increasingly impassioned countermelodies and textures over the basic refrains.

The third movement, Circle Dance (America), is jubilant—in the vein of the folk songs of the Shakers. A basic rondo structure alternates the principal melody with contrasting excursions.