Wednesday, February 15, 2017

F. C.'s Jig

Yo-Yo Ma and Mark O'Connor record F.C.'s Jig in 1995
In 1990, I composed my first concerto, The Fiddle Concerto. It was the first of its kind in that it adhered to Western classical concerto form and development yet drew upon American fiddling themes, rhythm, stylistic development, technique, and approaches to sound.

Five years later, Yo-Yo Ma asked me to compose a duet for us to record on our debut album together, Appalachia Waltz. Rather than compose something from scratch, I adapted a movement of The Fiddle Concerto for this purpose. I used material from the third movement, which is in jig time (6/8).

Mark and his wife Maggie film a music video of F.C.'s Jig in 2015
To convert the 14-minute concerto movement into a four-minute string duo, which I decided to call F.C.’s Jig (short for Fiddle Concerto’s jig), I eliminated the middle development section in F# minor and focused on the beginning and ending themes in D major. I retained the (1st) violin line from the score, and I adapted the entire symphonic orchestration into a second line, to be performed by cello or in this case, 2nd violin. The result is an example of American Classical string music filled with energetic rhythm and virtuoso flair!

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