for string quartet
"Fox Hollow" was commissioned by the Lafayette String Quartet. The title refers to the Fox Hollow Folk Festival, which I attended and performed in as a teenager. The festival was hosted by the Beers Family on their family homestead in upstate New York, and ran from 1966 to 1980. It was a festival of the times, steeped in romance as a world of musical magic and enchantment was created. It was a festival of intimacy and limited attendance that brought together “big names” with lesser known traditional artists. Most remarkably, it was purely acoustic — no electricity.
"Fox Hollow" for string quartet is in four movements depicting different moods and times of day, beginning with early morning and ending with an all-night campground jam session. Additionally, each movement is structured around the open strings of a different folk instrument in the following order: banjo (Appalachian modal tuning), guitar, mandolin, and fiddle. The movements are played without pause, with cadenzas providing a link from one to the next: first viola, then cello, then alternating violins. The movements are entitled: "Sawmill Tuning" (banjos at breakfast), "Midday Blues" (guitar licks in the heat of the day after a night without sleep), "Natural Amphitheater" (un-amplified concerts on a terraced hillside) and "Campground Cacophony Under the Stars" (multiple overlapping jam sessions expand and recede until the dawn, when it all starts again.)
Excerpts of "Fox Hollow," from a performance by the Lafayette String Quartet at Open Space Gallery, Victoria, B.C., Canada, Nov. 8, 2013.