Haunting Hymns from U.S. to Erin (1996)
THOMAS C. DUFFY
This piece was commissioned to be premiered in Ireland by the musicians of Mount St. Charles Academy (RI), directed by Marc Blanchette, in collaboration with musicians from Irish bands. It is a musical collage that pays tribute to the special relationship that exists between the United States (U.S.) and Ireland (Erin).
Each of the melodies within comes from the folk heritage of one of the countries. The tunes are traded about among the sections, symbolic of the distance between the lands. The final hymn is presented by one unified ensemble. Hymns present in the work include Boolavogue, which represents the 1798 Rebellion in Co. Wexford, and Shenandoah, a traditional American chantey. The well-known American Civil War tune, When Johnny Comes Marching Home is heard, followed by the plaintive strains of bagpipes. The final hymn, The Streams of Bunclody, contains lyrics that were supposedly written by a Bunclody emigrant who sent them back from the United States during the 1820s. The tune itself is traditional and believed to be much, much older.
Tonight’s performance of the piece is timely, following on the Yale Concert Band’s recent return from a three-city tour of Ireland (Cork, Limerick, and Dublin).
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