Real Country - World Premiere
St. James Theatre, London --- November 14, 2014
London's acclaimed and adventurous Lontano Ensemble, under the baton of artistic director Odaline de la Martinez, present the world premiere of Real Country. Here is a description of the new piece:
"Growing up in the rural American South, I’d occasionally hear the phrase “real country” as a way of identifying people – sometimes even my people, sometimes even me. It didn’t so much as describe a person’s profession or place of residence but rather something more qualitative – a characteristic walk or stride, a peculiar taste in food or conversation, and above all else, a richly accented voice thick with dialect and diphthong. It was something inside the body that just happened to make its way out somehow.
It’s that something within the voice that prompted me to write Real Country. Although I’ve titled each movement after a particular old-time country or gospel singer, I’m not really aiming to imitate any of them here – nor do I lay claim to anything resembling an “authentic” or “real” country style. First and foremost, this piece is a purely instrumental response, prompted by my listening over and over again, to a handful of special singers, all the while wondering and imagining – what sort of music do these voices invite? What idiosyncrasies and ornaments might I excavate from these old, strange and weird worlds? And how might I reimagine them in my own musical landscape?
There are, to be sure, a number of tunes here, too – some traditional ballads, some my own creation, others that fall in between. Some might recall the high-lonesome lament of the Appalachian murder ballad, others the ecstatic hollering of low-church gospel, and yet others the syrupy lilt of old-time country’s jilted lovers. Throughout it all, I think of these melodies as places to wander – pathways and byways mostly – each one traveled and populated by the peculiar, sputtering, plain and joyful voices of this other country – my country."