I am performing in the debut of an original symphonic work composed by Kevin F. Becker tonight October 23rd and tomorrow October 24th. The symphony is entitled The Hudson River Folk Symphony and was written in honor of the Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial and the 30th Anniversary of the Hudson Valley Folk Guild.
Kevin did a great job writing an interesting composition, which follows the musical history of the Hudson River. He starts out the first movement with woodwinds and drums playing a sort of tribal introduction representing the early Native Americans and their environment. He then abruptly launches the string section into a Baroque style fugue inspired by the likes of J.S. Bach. This fugue represents the arrival of Europeans into the Hudson Valley.
The second movement examines the music of the 17th and 19th Centuries. The melodies are based on the themes of the Folk songs Yankee Doodle and Hudson River Steam Boat. Kevin has actually informed me that Yankee Doodle was originally written in the Hudson River Valley making it very appropriate for the composition. The chorus enters the mix of the symphony in this movement while singing versus of Yankee Doodle and Hudson River Steam Boat.
The third movement is written as a modern Rondo representing the Hudson River’s industrial era of the 20th century. It has sort of a patriotic bent and honors the importance of Franklin Delano Roosevelt to the Hudson Valley region. It is important to note that Kevin is from Hyde Park, NY and it seems that as a result FDR holds a special place in his heart. The third movement also represents great depression utilizing the theme of the song Buddy Can You Spare a Dime. The chorus also holds a key part in the third movement as it sings the melody of My Country Tis of Thee/God Save The Queen with lyrics inspired by FDR.
All and all it’s been a fun experience learning this composition and helping to turn it into a good sounding piece. As you may have realized from reviewing the other content in this blog, I thoroughly enjoy studying music history, so the fact that the symphony has a historical bent interests me greatly. It has also been nice working with a larger ensemble again, as there are 24 performers playing their hearts out in it.
For those that wish to attend the performance will be held in the Cunneen Hackett Cultural Center Theatre in Poughkeepsie, NY and begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $12.00 at the door. For more information, visit http://www.folksymphony.com. While you’re in Poughkeepsie, be sure and stroll across the new pedestrian bridge connecting across the River to Highland, the views are worth it.