A Fantasy on “Shenandoah”
Composed by David Leisner
For flute and guitar
Published by Theodore Presser Co.
Duration: ca. 11 minutes
Includes flute part and guitar part (parts are mostly in score form)
AWAY for flute and guitar is a fantasy based on one of my favorite folk songs, “Shenandoah.” This one-movement work, in eight sections, is imagined as a musical journey down a wide river.
It begins moderately slowly, in contemplation of the patterns of “Currents” in the water, slows down to consider the effect of “Concentric Ripples,” increases in speed and activity in a “Rolling River” passage and even more in “Rapids,” arrives at a “Waterfall” – the loudest and fastest section, with rapid cascades of descending notes – passes through “Calming Waters,” pauses in a quiet canyon (“Canyon Echoes”) where the theme is finally played in its entirety the the flute (marked “ardent and alone in a vast space”), while the guitar provides the echoes, and finally comes to rest in “Still Waters.”
Each section plays with a small fragment of the song, sometimes imitatively, sometimes obsessively repeated and layered, or rhythmically augmented and diminished. While these reductive materials might have a hypnotic effect, it is my intention that their relatively rapid rate of change might rather make the listener more attentive.
Written for my gifted former students, Bradley Colten and Heather Holden, known professionally as the Arc Duo, AWAY was commissioned by the Diller-Quaile School of Music and written in 2008.
– David Leisner