My goal in writing Opus Twelve was to create music that is well suited to mandolins. For me, this project has been less about the recording and more about honing my abilities as a composer. I’m happy about the recording, but I’m thrilled about the compositions. I really have learned quite a bit through this process and hope that other mandolin players discover these fun new pieces.
For the world premiere, I’m grateful to the Austin Mandolin Orchestra for learning and performing these pieces in recital in June 2013. In preparation for that concert and afterward, I’ve made many edits to the score and parts to make them more enjoyable and practical to play. Some of the parts are also available in tab format.
A full recording of all 21 pieces is now available on Amazon, iTunes, and CD-Baby.
More about the pieces
The Bees Knees In the summer of 2013 as I was editing parts, this duet was inspired by honey bees that frequented the pond outside my office window. I dedicated it to Austin Mandolin Orchestra (AMO) founding member Joane Rylander for all her hard work in helping me keep the AMO running.
Lullaby (for Joshua David Fort) In fall of 2012, this was one of the first Opus 12 pieces I wrote. A duet for two mandolins to celebrate the arrival of my nephew’s first son.
Lento (for Ruhong) This duet for mandolin is dedicated to long-time AMO member Ruhong Cai. Okay, it’s really faster than ‘lento’, but the name stuck.
Lotus Flower Unfurling Another mandolin duet. This one for AMO member Brenda Boenig.
Gliding The lower part on this mandolin duet also works well on mandola. I wanted to write a nice piece incorporating glide strokes.
Floating This ornate mandolin duet is easier to play than it sounds because it features floating on open strings. Both parts get a lot of action in this one. It is dedicated to AMO supporter and gifted potter Susie Fowler.
Moon Over Machu Picchu This duet was designed for mandolin and mandola, but also works well for two mandolins. It was written to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Gail Penny-Chapmond and AMO super-hero Thomas Chapmond.
Spiral Refuge I asked Jacob Hodges to play marimba on Un Sueño del Horizonte and he sounded so good, it inspired me to write this fugal prelude for solo marimba which a dedicated to him.
Un Sueño del Horizonte A Latin duet for mandolin and marimba. I wrote this for my good buddy and AMO founding member Richard Somers.
Dungannon Cowboy A duet for mandolin and mandocello commissioned by AMO mandocellist Dede Hurson and dedicated to her husband Tony, One part Ireland and one part Texas. The low part also works on mandola.
If It Rains A duet for mandolin and guitar for my good friend Cathy Troutner.
Cuddlebug A three-movement duet for mandolin and piano commissioned by fiddler and multi-instrumentalist Chris Peterson for Julia Wagner. Features a blues, a waltz and movement in 7/8.
Ode To Elsie A mandocello solo written for my good friends Michael and Katy, whose Bluetick Coonhound Elsie passed away just before the Opus Twelve Recital in June 2013.
A solo mandolin piece, which I wrote to open the Opus Twelve recital. Spiral Refuge is a rework of this thematic material. Hint: the names of these two pieces are both anagrams of ‘fugal reprise.’
Waltz for Doc
Written in honor of Malcolm S. Moore, Sr. MD from Sid Moore and family. This mandolin solo features an altered tuning. One D string is retuned to B, which allows for some interesting harmonies,
A mandola solo, this one is dedicated to my friend, supporter, and talented composer/musician Kevin Becker. The Japanese language has many descriptive words for rain. In this case, warm spring rain.
I wrote this with my border collie Dart sleeping at my feet. We almost named him Tanjiro, which means highly-valued second son. It’s inspired by kora music from West Africa. This trio for two mandolins and guitar is dedicated Mark and Beverly Davis. I had the pleasure of meeting Mark, who is an exceptional guitarist, at the 2013 CMSA convention in Regina.
Glo’s Tree in real life is a huge water oak planted over forty years ago by Gloria Crawford. Commissioned by Joe Crawford in memory of his wife Glo. A quartet for two mandolins, mandola, and mandocello.
In Memory of Nell Wilson Pond
Commissioned by stalwart AMO member Lloyd Pond in memory of his grandmother, who was in a mandolin orchestra in Orange Texas almost a century ago. This piece is in four movements for full mandolin orchestra, including guitar and bass: Riverboat, Nests, Rustic Dance & Orange County Idyll.
That’s her mandolin group pictured below from Orange Texas at the turn of the century. Most folks in the group are relatives or in-laws of the Pond clan. Nell was a piano, violin, and mandolin player, who taught lessons (including Lloyd’s first lessons) and played piano in a Baptist church in Orange Texas.
Lloyd relates that as a teen, she skipped school to go watch the riverboat arrive. She went aboard to the top deck and was accidentally shot in the arm by some men along the dock who were shooting pistols randomly into the air.
Lloyd also reports that her favorite piano tune was a stride piano piece called Rustic Dance (public domain)