Excerpt performed by the Modern Mandolin Quartet; recorded at Mike Marshall Studios, Oakland, California, 1993.
Grass Valley Fire, 1988
for mandolin quartet
(also version for string quartet)
Instrumentation: mandolin quartet
(two mandolins, mandola, mando-cello)
Also, version for string quartet.
"Grass Valley Fire, 1988" for mandolin quartet commemorates the 1988 fire that burned 49 square miles around Grass Valley, California, including the home of the composer's sister. The piece's three continuous sections loosely follow the progress of the fire---the opening suggests the pastoral quality of the grasslands before the fire, the middle evokes the fire as it takes hold in earnest and the conclusion is a stark desolate reworking of the opening, depicting the charred remains the fire left behind. The fire itself is represented as an intensity of rhythm, derived from the composer's experience playing Afro-Cuban charranga music on the violin.
This piece, written for the Modern Mandolin Quartet, was the first original piece in their repertoire that was designed expressly for their instrumentation. The Quartet gave the premier performance in 1989 at Merkin Concert Hall in New York and have toured the work extensively. The work also exists in a version for string quartet, which was premiered in Buenos Aires by the Quartet of Argentina in 1991.
Radio interview including discussion and performance of "Grass Valley Fire, 1988."