Balkan Dances (2015)
For flute choir and flute soloist
Solo Flute – Piccolo – Flute I, II, III – Alto flute – Bass flute – Contrabass flute
Debbie Gilbert, Artistic Director of the Woodbridge Flute Choir, Woodbridge, VA
Woodbridge Flute Choir
Emma Resmini, flute soloist
National Flute Conference, Washington, DC
August 14, 2015
Performers in audio recording:
Woodbridge Flute Choir; Emma Resmini, flute soloist; Debbie Gilbert, conductor
"The Balkan States," or simply "The Balkans," is a collective name for the geographical region between Europe and Asia comprising Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, and Western Turkey. I have long been fascinated by the unique musical culture and heritage of this region. When I think of Balkan music, I think of Bulgarian women’s choirs singing in glorious, fullthroated, straight-tone chorales that oscillate between lilting rhythms and long tones, with harmonies at the major or minor second that create a richness and "bite" found nowhere else in the world. I think of festive Greek wedding songs in 7/8 with elaborate ornamentation that make me want to leap up and dance despite my lack of Greek heritage. I think of Macedonian, Romanian, Turkish and Bulgarian dancers flowing through complex uneven meters as effortlessly as Austrians might waltz, and often at wickedly fast tempi. I think of colorful costumes, national pride, exotic-sounding scales with multiple augmented seconds, and the importance of passing music and dance on through oral/aural tradition. Balkan music never fails to intrigue, inspire and invigorate me!
While no one Balkan country’s traditional music includes all the aforementioned features, I wanted to bring as many of these characteristics to my own original composition as I could. All the music in this composition is original, although one brief section in the middle reharmonizes a quote from a Bulgarian folk song.
I remain exceedingly grateful to Debbie Gilbert, the Artistic Director of the Woodbridge Flute Choir, for commissioning this work and for directing its premiere at the 2015 National Flute Association Convention in Washington, DC. I am also grateful to Emma Resmini, the very gifted and hardworking young flutist who played the solo part at the premiere. This work is dedicated to Debbie Gilbert and the Woodbridge Flute Choir.