Two Musical Sides of Kentucky

The lion’s share of my musical life is performing as principal second violin of the Louisville Orchestra, an institution with a proud legacy of Contemporary Classical music. Living in Kentucky means the native sounds and string-playing of Bluegrass and Americana are also all around. As a violinist, exploring the contrasts and connections between these styles has proven to be especially fertile soil.

This playlist is comprised of four works composed by Kentuckians:
two Contemporary Classical pieces and two solo arrangements of folk songs.

Blue Moon of Kentucky
was written by perhaps the state’s most famous musician, Bill Monroe
The Father of Bluegrass. Originally performed as a waltz, this song has been re-interpreted many times and in many ways. My aim in this version is to use classical technique to focus a spotlight on the sometimes obscured charm of the melody.

Music for Violin
is steeped in the chordal and lilting rhythmic writing of the Baroque Period with a particular nod to J.S. Bach. Daniel Gilliam wrote it for me as something of a rumination on the towering works of the 17th and 18th centuries from a 2015 perspective.

Crossing Mountains
begins and ends with a driving folk groove that is clearly inspired by American fiddle playing.
Jeremy Beck’s music is often characterized by an intense lyricism which emerges in the contrasting middle section of this taut composition.

You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive
is one of the most performed songs by Darrell Scott, an accomplished songwriter originally from London, KY. Eastern Kentucky’s Harlan County is known for coal mining, violent labor battles and hardship. The region’s tumultuous history has inspired protest and folk songs for more than a century. To me, this 1996 song is a distant relation of Renaissance laments and even a wordless version can convey its innate sorrow.