In the fall of 2009 I was approached by Eric Stumacher, director of the Keene Chamber Orchestra, to compose a piece of music for a joint performance by the KCO and the Keene Elementary Strings (comprised of elementary school children in the various Keene schools).
The resulting piece, Joyful, was performed on May 9th, 2010, at the Colonial Theatre in Keene.
Click title to activate playing (it’s about 7 minutes). This audio is rendered from the music notation program Sebelius: the sounds are artificially generated, so listen with a grain of salt.
From the Program Notes
Joyful was inspired by the spontaneous Celtic-flavored musical embellishments that often emerge among contra dance musicians. The musical forms in Joyful are a jig, a waltz, and a reel, all common to traditional music of Ireland, Scotland, French Canada, and New England, and which comprise the repertoire for contra dance music. The orchestration of the piece relied on inspiration from what traditional players might do (such as the soaring flute and piccolo parts which mimic the penny whistle heard in Irish music), but the piece is also informed by other unlikely sources: as a teenager Gordon was drawn to the orchestrations of Brian Wilson, notably from the Beach Boys Pet Sounds album, and also the wonderful harmonies and instrumentation of the Byrds. Add a little Bach and a little Duke Ellington into the mix and the result is a stew that has been simmering for years. Hopefully the result is a piece that is pleasing to listen to, and fun to play.
Having this piece performed for the first time on Mother’s Day inspires me to dedicate Joyful to my mother, Margaret Peery, who nurtured an early and life-long appreciation for the most indefinable aspects of music.
Download the Score