Stranger Variations (2008) for violin

DURATION: ca. 9:00

FINALIST: ASCAP Foundation Morton Gould Young Composer Award


Stranger Variations was born out of an attempt to reconcile my love for two genres of music: contemporary concert and American folk. Fusing elements of these (superficially) dissimilar categories has been problematic in the past, but, in the case of this piece, the solution was direct juxtaposition in the form of a theme and variations. Stranger Variations uses as its subject the traditional tune “Poor Wayfaring Stranger,” which is first presented as a lonesome fiddler’s lament. This melody then proceeds through a number of mutations, variously inflected by both concert and fiddle styles. Even though the piece is unambiguously sectional, the seams between the two paths of musical discourse are smoothed over with quasi-improvisatory interludes and a multitude of stylistic elisions.