Belle Aire for Mandolin Orchestra

Belle Aire for Mandolin Orchestra

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  • : Back in 2002 I began to write my own light airy flute and guitar arrangement of the Ukrainian New Year's carol "Щедрик", or Carol of the Bells as we know it these days, as a gift for my wife. I got part-way into writing it and morphing it into a 4/4 trance tune (of all things), then set it aside and wrote a "Baroque/Bach" version of the carol instead ( "Belle Fugue" http://www.macjams.com/song/18042 ). So the "Belle Aire" sketch gathered dust for years... …until... in November 2011 I met a local mandolin player (Kevin), who told me the "San Diego Mandolin Orchestra" group he was playing in had a Christmas concert coming up and they might be looking for new music for Mandolins and flute. This seemed like a fun opportunity to re-orchestrate something, learn about a new instrument (the mandolin), and possibly have a piece of my music performed live! But I only had a few weeks to come up with something. I remembered this very short (half-completed) "holiday" piece from almost a decade ago, and started researching the mandolin. Oh wait... it is an ORCHESTRA, a whole FAMILY of instruments! Mandolin, Mandola, Octave-Mandolin, Mandolin-cello... I learned as much as I could about each instrument and its range and what clef each played in, then started reworking the music for these instruments. The flute's deceptive initial counter-melody (that makes the listener start wondering if this might not be Carol of the Bells at all) was already there and remained intact, but I added some embellishments, like adding a short swing-section, bouncing the melody between guitars and mandolins in the middle, and putting in some of the characteristic mandolin tremolos near the end. Well, to make a long story short, Jim Trepasso, conductor of the orchestra very kindly accepted my score, and had his musicians start practicing it for the performance. It was premiered on December 21st, 2011 at the Coronado Public Library, and the evening was a jam-packed success. Several years later, I offered a modestly updated version, which they rehearsed, and performed again on December 17, 2014 in Coronado. So, without further ado, here is a video recording of the 2014 performance of the San Diego Mandolin Orchestra performing "Belle Aire”! My warmest thanks to Jim Trepasso, Kathleen the flute player and the Mandolin Orchestra musicians for performing my piece, and to my wife who always inspires me beyond words.
  • : GoPro Hero 3+

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