Down the Lonely Path by Brett Abigana
Premiered April 23rd at Carnegie Hall
Vista High School Wind Ensemble
Ralph Ewell, Director
New York International Music Festival
Presented by World Projects
The composer writes:
Down the Lonely Path is piece which continues the trend in my recent work of exploring the bluegrass aesthetic and its influence on concert music. Of course, many composers have been fascinated with the extended harmonies, complicated rhythms, and overall aesthetic of jazz for the past hundred-odd years, but comparatively little attention has been given that other uniquely American art form of bluegrass. While bluegrass can certainly claim ancestry from many cultures and non-American aesthetics, I believe the resultant mix of styles is very American and should be explored and exploited in concert music. Down the Lonely Path draws upon the simplicity and beauty of a bluegrass waltz, but frames it in a more extended harmonic framework, with nods to jazz (Glen Miller in particular), Copland, and Vaughan Williams. The piece begins with a layered waltz rhythm behind a soaring alto saxophone solo which develops constantly throughout the piece. At the climax of the piece is a not-so-veiled quote of Waltzing Matilda, which seemed to me at the time to be the natural result of the preceding melodic development. The work ends peacefully with that same saxophone solo, slowly winding down as it runs out of energy.