“Art Song was written for the Chautauqua Ensemble, an indescribable group I led for the better part of a decade. TCE explored Classical, Jazz, and Non-western traditions, reshaping them for its own amusement, resulting in an uncategorizable repertoire that was loads of fun to play but was a nightmare to promote. Jazz clubs thought we were too Classical and Classical venues thought we were, well, not Classical, anyway. Record stores had no idea where to put our CD. As TCE’s repertoire became more experimental it became even more difficult to find places to play, so in the end the group disbanded, more because of professional roadblocks than from artistic exhaustion. It was a decidedly noncommercial project which never found a home, but I would not want to change its fate because it left me with a substantial musical legacy.
“I wrote most of the music for TCE, so after its demise I was left with a mountain of sheet music—lots of pieces, some rewritten many times—to sort through in a confusing attempt to discover the point of what we had done. At first I had no idea how to handle them, but in time they reinvented themselves in different ways, each according to its own nature. Some became marimba solos. Others I’ve rewritten for smaller ensembles and in different instrumentations which I still perform with various groups today.
“I’ve always thought of these arrangements as The Chautauqua Etudes, a series of works which have a common source tying them together. The first set is Attendance to Ritual, Art Song, Mozambique, Fantasy for L-5, and Soca. All are recorded on the CD, Water and Fire. The second set, Iyesá, Blue Lake, Balafon, Salam, and Cumbia, was released on the CD, Metric Imperative. Both recordings are available on YouTube.
“It means everything to me that some of them are now being republished by Marimba Productions because otherwise this music would ultimately be lost. Whether others judge them to be of value or not is, in the end, less important than whether others get the chance to judge them at all. I love these works as old friends who I’ve come back to time and again through the years, so I hope that you will love them too.
“The roadmap for each piece is obvious and needs no explanation here, but I would encourage your group to do anything and everything you want to it. Be brave: rearrange it, transpose it, reorchestrate it, and most importantly, email me the recording at: email@example.com. I would love to hear it.”