Strange Folk

string quartet

duration: 11 minutes

Strange Folk was premiered by Hannah Stitzinger, violin, Rachel Patrick, violin, Megan Fergusson, viola, and Anne Patterson, cello, at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI on February 6, 2006.


Program Notes:

The first movement of Strange Folk was composed in a few days for a reading session with the Enso String Quartet. I am normally a methodical worker but in this case I was forced to compose quickly with a minimum of self-editing. The resulting piece flowed surprisingly easily onto the page and was quite different than anything I had written before. After the reading, ideas started pouring out for other movements. I wrote all nine movements quickly, though spaced out over the course of several months. They are all miniatures (or at least mostly-miniatures) but they group themselves into three larger sections each with three movements. The music contains gestures, phrasing and sounds reminiscent of a lot of folk music, but nothing is derived from any particular source. I am always curious to hear responses to the it: people have described it at different times as having an Eastern European, Mongolian, Jewish and Estonian sound but to me the piece feels like one of my most personal pieces. My own background is Estonian but I think the sound of Strange Folk has more to do with absorbing a medley of folk and vernacular music while growing up as well as experiencing folk music ‘second hand’ through composers like Bartók, Veljo Tormis, Janácek and Stravinsky. The piece is 11 minutes long.