Far Away from Here

Music for Bluegrass Band and Orchestra

Peter Schickele

Rental
Publisher: Elkan-Vogel, Inc.
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

I guess it must have been Ralph Rinzler, who was one of my roommates at Swarthmore in the 50?s, and who was later involved in the management of the Newport Folk Festival and Bill Monroe and was a member of the Greenbriar boys ? he must have been the one who first introduced me to bluegrass music. But it was in late ?60 or early ?61 that I became truly hooked. I was visiting a friend in San Francisco, and when I mentioned that I needed some photos of myself, she called up a friend of hers who was an amateur photographer; when the session started, he put on a record of Earl Taylor and the Stony Mountain Boys, and that was it, I was gone, I don?t remember the session at all, all I remember is how that band moved the molecules around in that room.

Many years later, as part of my researches into the highly figmental music of P.D.Q. Bach, I discovered a cantata, ?Blaues Gras,? for tenor, bass, bluegrass band and baroque orchestra, which has been recorded. So, although I was completely delighted, I wasn?t completely surprised when I was approached by a bluegrass band about the possibility of my writing them a concerto. The next time the McLain Family Band was in New York City, we got together in a hotel room ? it wasn?t that big, it was wall-to-wall musicians ? and they played, and I listened, and we talked, and I liked them immediately, and they indulged me in my years-old (ever since that photo session) of singing ?In The Pines.? Then, up in New London, my wife and kids and I went and heard them perform with symphony orchestra, after which we repaired to an appropriate place to debate the merits of various different kinds of dessert. Plans were made.

"Far Away from Here" was completed on September 9, 1984. Since most folk musicians don?t read music as fluently as classical musicians do (although they usually memorize music more quickly than classical musicians), and since the McLains are on the road almost constantly, it seems like (and I?m not home an awful lot myself, once things get going), I made a bunch of tape cassettes: one of me hacking through the entire piece on the piano, complete with a telephone ringing in the background and me and the friend I got to turn pages cracking up when my fingers became so confused that I resorted to singing instead; and then six more tapes, each with one of the individual band parts superimposed on the basic tape. The only time the McLains and I could find to get together was September 29th; they were playing Victoria, Texas, and I was playing San Antonio, and we managed to grab a couple of hours together somewhere in there.

The piece itself makes use of bluegrass textures within classically-oriented forms, as well as a sort of layering technique that came out of my days as an arranger for Joan Baez, Buffy Ste. Marie and other folk singers. The fourth movement is built around a beautiful old hymn that I learned off of one of the McClain?s records, ?I Will Arise and Go To Jesus.? All the other tunes and lyrics in the work are original.

The official premiere took place on December 15th, 1984 with the composer conducting the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

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Additional Information

Duration 00:21:00
Orchestration 3(Picc.) 2 2 2 - 2 3 3(B.Tbn.) 0; 3Perc. Str. Bluegrass Band (6 Players): Banjo/Vln./Mand./Gtr. Mand. 3Gtr. Cb.