While I do immensely enjoy writing scores for film, television and video games, there is nothing quite like the sense of community that comes with writing for and performing with an orchestra. I have had many chances to do this as an arranger, but this is the first time I’ve had the opportunity as a composer and have actually felt confident enough with the result to publish!
It was born of Dennis Ferrigno’s desire to feature my mother (who also happens to be the concertmaster) in an Orange Blossom Special arrangement. Dennis is one of our board members, generous arts patron and father to Senatorial Candidate Michelle Ferrigno Warren. I was immediately onboard, being quite familiar with my mother’s fiddle chops.
Unfortunately, a cursory glance indicated that this was, in fact, a tune under copyright! Dismayed, I was about to tell them I couldn’t do it when I realized that this was a perfect opportunity to grow my concerto writing skills. And who better to guide me through the process than my own flesh and blood?
The collaboration went beautifully. I essentially wrote what I wanted, keeping in mind the limitations of the instrument. However, as I am not a string player, I couldn’t always anticipate what was easy or difficult for the player. That’s when Tracy would step in and let me know if there was a better way of writing it without losing the character. I learned so much during this process that I can’t wait for my next collaboration with a soloist!
The piece starts off with the laziest swing eighths blues melody, accompanied by obligatory piano and copious portamento.
Then is a thirty second section where the orchestra does nothing but give you a soundscape of a train departing from a station. I did mostly because Dennis, who commissioned the work, is a train enthusiast. But I also thought it would be a neat orchestration challenge, and it is perfectly in tune with my tendency to write programatic music. I was worried about it as I worked on it, but it came across beautifully!
Finally the train picks up steam and we really start to move and groove. All of a sudden, we’re in Bluegrass territory!
And finally, a piece called “Rhapsody in Orange” written because we couldn’t get the rights to arrange Orange Blossom Special wouldn’t be the same without an Orange-Blossom-esque ricochet figure.
Collaborating with my mother has always been a special experience, but this was truly a moment for both of us. The full premiere can be heard here, as well as more info and a link to contact me if you are a soloist or conductor who wants to try it out!
My plate is constantly full of more things to do, which is all a composer can ask for. Look for more exciting things in 2020 and have a Happy New Year!