Fiddler's Galaxy



Fiddler's Galaxy


Sarah Johnson, Violin


Jane Hawkins, Piano




Lukas Foss (b. 1922)


Composer, conductor, and pianist Lukas Foss began studies in piano and theory in Berlin with Julius Goldstein. From 1933 to 1937 he studied piano, composition, orchestration, and flute in Paris. Foss moved to the United States in 1937 where he continued his studies at the Curtis Institute. He also studied conducting with Koussevitzky at the Berkshire Music Center and composition with Hindemith at Yale University. Precociously gifted, Foss received the New York Music Critics' Circle Award in 1944 and became the youngest composer ever to receive a Guggenheim Fellowship. Foss was professor of music at UCLA; music director of the Ojai Festival; music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic, the Milwaukee Symphony, and the Brooklyn Philharmonic. He was elected to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1983.


Three American Pieces


I wrote my Three American Pieces at a time when I was in love with my newly adopted country. This love affair began with The Prairie, based on poetry by Carl Sandburg. Sandburg and Aaron Copland were responsible for revealing the United States to this youngster from Paris. My American period continued until I became wildly avant-garde. And then I returned to an American style in my American Cantata of 1976, which was a Bicentennial commission. I've continued to write such pieces ever since — my Central Park Reel for violin and piano, for instance and my guitar concerto, American Landscapes. All the music possesses an open-air quality I think I learned from Aaron, but I've handled it my own way. And there is always the influence of folk music — I looked at it a lot. I was also in love with jazz. The only popular idiom I never got close to was Broadway.


The Three American Pieces are about 14 minutes long. The longest piece is the second, “Dedication.” Its initial Lento builds to an accelerating central episode whose agitato climax is the suite's weightiest moment: a Lento reprise follows. The brisk outer movements are clearly “American.” Movement one, “Early Song,” begins lyrically (Andante) — a prairie lullaby? An Allegro episode eager and breathless follows. A reprise of the opening leads to a final section in which the piece's contrasting materials are superimposed. The closing “Composer's Holiday” zestfully appropriates a variety of popular styles.


— Lukas Foss


Aaron Bachelder (b. 1970)


Composer and percussionist Aaron Bachelder has composed chamber, choral, orchestral, and electronic music, as well as songs in popular genres. In addition to his compositional activities, Mr. Bachelder is a founding member of the improvisational chamber group, the Spool Ensemble, and the rock band Chapsticks. Mr. Bachelder studied composition with Sherwood Shaffer and Larry Dillon, and percussion with J. Massie Johnson. Additional studies included electronic music with Michael Rothkopf and Robert Yekovich, drumming with Rick Dilling, and microtonality with Johnny Reinhard. Mr. Bachelder lives in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.




In late 1997, Sarah Johnson happened to hear a performance of the Enrichment Center Percussion Ensemble at the Enrichment Center's annual art auction. Expressing intrigue with the capabilities of the group, she suggested that we collaborate in the future. It was quite a while before we re-established contact, but the timing turned out to be excellent — Sarah was in the process of putting together her new compact disc, and proposed that I write a new work for her and the Ensemble for that recording. The resultant work, Nomos (Greek, `law'), may be understood primarily as an exploration of the struggle between such dualistic concepts as order/disorder, cohesion/fragmentation, rationality/irrationality, and particularly, freedom and restriction: restriction internal or external, inherent or imposed. In each of these pairs, neither element need be interpreted qualitatively, as the work is more concerned with the process of how change is effected by the imposition (or mere existence) of rules or structuring forces, and assumes that such processes, objectively observed, will exhibit similar characteristics. The structuring forces in question are ever present, often hidden, disguised, or fragmented, but just as often stated quite bluntly. The first, a series of pitches, is therefore heard at times in its entirety and at others divided into constituent motives; the second, derivative of the Indian tala principle, is a rhythmic cycle (5+5+4 beats) which also undergoes some transformation and fragmentation. Each emanates from the percussion, generally taking the role of `order', with the violin in contrasting role. Having presented the symbolic or metaphoric content, it should be pointed out that the work is constructed not as a narrative, with programmatic continuity, but more as a set of quasi-variations, each presenting a different perspective or outcome of the conflict set into motion — one, the other, or both of the conceptual elements capitulate to varying degrees and in differing ways. The percussion, in its ongoing effort to restrain the nature of the violin, finds itself just as often compromised and transformed from its original intent and form. By the conclusion of the work, neither the percussion nor the violin has managed to retain its original nature, and both are left reeling from the final fracture of identity. Nomos is dedicated to Sarah Johnson.


— Aaron Bachelder




The Enrichment Center


The Enrichment Center, located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, has achieved national and international recognition for its work in developing the career potential of musicians, dancers, actors, visual artists and poets with developmental disabilities. Founded in 1985, The Enrichment Center has discovered that the arts, like no other avenue, develop self-esteem, extinguish the belief that these individuals have nothing to offer, and open the door to community involvement. The Center fulfills its mission “to enrich the community by promoting the abilities of adults with disabilities” through programs that include a Percussion Ensemble, Performance Company, Studio 610 for the visual arts, and The Enrichment Center Poets. Artists who participate in these programs earn money through the sale of visual art, published poetry, and fees for performances.


The Enrichment Center Percussion Ensemble was founded in the fall of 1997 by director Aaron Bachelder. Its members, having little to no prior musical experience, were selected from the participant body of the Enrichment Center after evaluation of musical inclination and interest. Membership has remained essentially the same, though expansion remains a goal of the group. The Enrichment Center Percussion Ensemble has performed frequently in and around Winston-Salem, North Carolina.


Aaron Bachelder and the members of the Enrichment Center Percussion Ensemble would like to thank the following people and institutions for their invaluable assistance in making this project possible: Jeanne Butler and the Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts, The Enrichment Center, Sandy Seeber, Susan Davis, Sue Kneppelt, Rekiko Foust and Diane Cottrell, Bill Allgood, and all of the family and caregivers of the members of the ECPE. We would like to express the deepest gratitude to Sarah Johnson for the extraordinary experience she provided for us in initiating this collaboration.




Robert Ward (b. 1917)


The Pulitzer Prize winning composer received his early musical training in Cleveland, Ohio's public schools and graduated from the Eastman School of Music where he studied under Bernard Rogers and Howard Hanson. His graduate work was completed at the Juilliard School studying composition with Frederick Jacobi and conducting with Albert Stoessel and Edgar Schenkman.


Ward served on the faculties of Queens College, Columbia University, the Juilliard School, and Duke University where he held the Mary Duke Biddle Professor of music position. The Executive Vice President and Managing Editor of Galaxy Music Corporation and Highgate Press, Ward also served as president of the North Carolina School of the Arts.


Ward's large and distinguished musical creations have been commissioned by organizations ranging from the New York City Opera to the New York Philharmonic. He has composed seven operas, six symphonies, major choral works, songs, and concerti for piano, violin and saxophone. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.


Appalachian Dances and Ditties


The composer writes that, “This work reflects the interest I have had in American folk music in general since the 1950's and in Appalachian music in particular since the 1970's when my wife and I had a second home in Sparta, North Carolina. The richness and vitality of that music is unparalleled by that of any other region of the country. The mountain folk are a singing people and the tune are an inspiration or a solace for a wide spectrum of feeling.


In this work, I have tried to catch the spirit of the mountains and the people. The movements reflect various moods, from the sad or religious to the sentimental or boisterous. “Cloggin'” includes the only authentic folk tune, a wonderful one, “Kitchen Girl.” “Women-folk, Just Chattin'” is a musical portrayal of some of the photographs of primitive farms in the North Carolina mountains with their porches and rocking chairs. There a group of women and girls could sit shucking peas or husking corn while enjoying the latest gossip or news. “A Lorn One, Grievin'” is a portrait of a young girl's sorrow when her lover has forsaken her and her dreams have been shattered. “Cloggin'” is a picture of the climax of the Saturday night social when the cloggers become the center of attention. The mountain “likker” imbibed earlier has loosened the feet. The fiddling and banjo picking has gone wild and all cares have been forgotten until Sunday morning's hangovers and hymn singing.


The work was commissioned by Music in the Mountains and premiered by Amy Mugavero, violin, and Michael Ching, piano.


— Robert Ward


Kenneth Frazelle (b. 1955)


Born in Jacksonville, North Carolina, Kenneth Frazelle was a student of Roger Sessions at the Juilliard School and attended high school at the North Carolina School of the Arts where he now teaches.


Frazelle is composer-in-residence with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and the Santa Rosa Symphony. In 1998 he was a recipient of the American Academy in Rome's Regional Visiting Artist Fellowship. Frazelle's music has been performed by orchestras throughout the United States including the Buffalo Philharmonic, Colorado Symphony, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra as well as at chamber music festivals including the Spoleto Festival and Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.


Frazelle's score for Still/Here brought him international acclaim. The music, written for the folksinger Odetta and ensemble, was written as part of a multi-media dance theater work. The film version of Still/Here has been viewed by millions on national public television and in Canada, France, and Japan.


Fiddler's Galaxy


Fiddler's Galaxy takes its name from the Appalachian town of Galax, Virginia, where the oldest fiddlers' convention in the country is held, and where a unique style of fiddle playing has existed since the early nineteenth century. I have borrowed bowings, phrasings, and particular versions of tunes from the Galax area for this composition.


The piece is in two sections. The first, “Old Time Conventions,” is slow; melodic lines rise and fall like mountain ridges as they reach into the past for fragments of the old music. “Breakdowns,” the second section, is fast; it is a series of dances that becomes a contest between the performers. Breakdowns are distinctive Appalachian fiddle tunes derived from the reels and hornpipes the settlers brought from the British Isles.


I spend much of my time in the blue Ridge Mountains near Galax, where I enjoy the old-time music I have incorporated into this musical fantasy. Fiddler's Galaxy was composed in the summer of 1989.


— Kenneth Frazelle




Sarah Johnson, violin


Sarah Johnson, a gifted child performer, made her debut with the Minneapolis Symphony at the age of ten. Hailed as “quintessentially romantic and uncommonly witty” she has received accolades throughout the United States, South America and Europe for her “first rate fiddling.” (New York Times) In addition to her international and regional touring, Ms. Johnson also served for nearly a decade as founder and director of the critically acclaimed and very popular “Sarah Johnson & Friends” chamber music series at the Dock Street Theatre in Charleston, South Carolina.


A former member of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and a founding member of the South Carolina Chamber Orchestra, Ms. Johnson is a graduate of The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia where she studied with Ivan Galamian, Jaime Laredo and members of the Guarneri Quartet. Further studies took her to New York City where she studied with Erica Morini and played with the Orpheus Ensemble.


Ms. Johnson has taught on the visiting faculties of the Eastman School of Music, Duke University and the College of Charleston and is currently a member of the Artist Faculty of the North Carolina School of the Arts.


Sarah Johnson appears on two additional releases on Albany Records performing Robert Ward's Violin Concerto with the Winston-Salem Symphony Orchestra and music for violin and piano by Arthur Foote and Amy Beach.


Jane Hawkins, piano


Jane Hawkins graduated with distinction from the Royal Academy of Music in London where she studied both cello and piano. Since coming to the United States, she has concertized with both singers and instrumentalists, delighting audiences with her ability to bring out the best in her partners while retaining brilliance and individuality for her own part.


From 1990-1994 she and violinist Sarah Johnson performed the multi-sensory program, Aural Landscapes, throughout the South including appearances at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina. Other collaborations include the Dorian Wind Quintet, the Chicago Symphony Chamber Players, James Buswell, and Sharon Robinson, among others.


Artist-in-Residence at Duke University during the academic year, Ms. Hawkins spends her summers teaching and performing at the Musicorda Festival in Massachusetts. She is a founding member of the Mallarme Chamber Players and the North Carolina Chamber Soloists.






Cover Art: Jeremiah Miller, Moonlit Landscape Near Galax, Virginia, oil on panel, 8 x 10 inches, 1999




To my loving and deeply understanding husband, Jeremiah Miller, who teaches me every day about love.


To my wonderful women friends — Kathy Alligood for her abiding friendship and critical encouragement, Rebecca Mays who always understands those “sinking spell,” Sarah Lu Bradley and EJ Essic, without whose loving presence my life might have been bereft of that special kind of understanding that women share; Sibby Wood, who has shared her generosity of spirit in hopes that I may too be fearlessly generous one day, and Susan Bush, who is direct with me and crack me up from time to time and who never makes me feel crazy, and to the next generation of searching souls.


To my sister Annie, who has always been one of my best friends; to my sister BJ whose poetic soul and no-nonense directness I cherish deeply; to my sister Katie whom I have always adored; and to my dad who is still too cute to fear being really old!


Also, to the dear, long-suffering management women at Siegel Artist Management — Jane Lawrence Curtiss, Liz Silverstein, Jeanie Thompson and Ethel Siegel.


Thanks also to Susan Davis, Sandy Seeber and Sue Kneppelt of The Enrichment Center, Jeanne Butler of the Kenan Institute for the Arts, The Percussion Ensemble musicians and Aaron Bachelder, Kenneth Frazelle for the idea and faith to do this recording and dear Dr. Robert Ward for his constant belief and support.


Special thanks to Kenneth Frazelle for coming up with the idea for this cd.


And finally, Very Special Thanks to the Frederick S. Upton Foundation, Steve and Betsy Upton, David and Linda Upton, Priscilla and Chet Byrnes, and Sibby and Max Wood for their patient and loving support without which this project would not have been realized.


A portion of the proceeds of this compact disc will be given to The Enrichment Center of Winston-Salem, North Carolina.






Fiddler's Galaxy


Sarah Johnson, violin


Jane Hawkins, piano


Lukas Foss


Three American Pieces


1 Early Song [4:48]


2 Dedication [5:06]


3 Composer's Holiday [3:11]


Aaron Bachelder


4 Nomos [14:40]


Sarah Johnson, violin


Aaron Bachelder, vibraphone, bongos, temple blocks, water bowl


Debbie Davidson, high rototoms,


suspended cymbals, Chinese opera gongs


Valarie Williams, finger cymbals, claves, water bell


Marcie Haley, low rototoms


Cecelia Henry, woodblock, flexatone


Robert Ward


Appalachian Dances and Ditties


5 Women-folk, Just Chattin' [4:07]


6 A Lorn One, Grievin' [4:06]


7 Cloggin' [3:24]


Kenneth Frazelle


Fiddler's Galaxy


8 Old Time Conventions [9:12]


9 Breakdowns [5:37]








“This disc is a joy. The repertory is fresh, varied, and often lovable; the performances are impeccable and full of zest; the recorded sound is gorgeous. Fiddler's Galaxy is a must-hear for anyone who loves `fiddle' music.”


— William R. Trotter, author of Priest of Music: The Life of Dimitry Mitropoulos.




“Playing from the heart that has technical security and tonal polish.”


— Martin Bookspan