Working with pianist Sharon Wright, my close friend and esteemed colleague, has always been a delight and inspiration. As mentioned in a previous article, she will be accompanying my students for their special recital this November. I was pleased and honored, however, when the kind folks at Quaker Gardens requested that I also contribute to the performance. Sharon has convinced me to perform, not only a short “darling nugget” by Shostakovich, but also one of my own compositions. Overall, my pieces tend to span an eclectic style-spectrum, and I’ve performed my few pieces for violin and piano many times for churches and private concerts. So, desiring something different, I have chosen a sweet, somewhat jazzy piece called “Pittsburgh Melody”, originally for flugelhorn and piano, which I will perform on my violin. At first, I was uncertain that a violin could capture the mood of the piece like the flugel, but, after trying it in rehearsal, it seems to have a unique character all its own. Sitting in the lower register of the instrument, there is a mellow sweetness and simplicity about it — not entirely unlike it with the flugelhorn, but perhaps gentler, more subtle.
I am very proud of “Pittsburgh Melody”. The melody was first conceived on one of my tour busses, as we were passing through that great city. I quickly jotted down those passing thoughts, then abandoned the idea until last year, when I began to tinker with an accompaniment, which manages to subtly change the harmonic flavor each time the melodic hook comes along. At that time, I had met James (who plays trumpet, flugel, and cornet), and I mentioned my desire to feature some brass-type instrument on the melody, something jazzy but mellow. He instantly suggested flugelhorn, and he was kind enough to debut the piece during one of our Performance Seminars at school.
Come to our recital in November and experience “Pittsburgh Melody”, played for the first time on the violin!
Update: For your listening pleasure, I have uploaded a small sample of Pittsburgh Melody.