• details

    • Order numbers: tbd
    • Instrumentation: wind orchestra
    • Duration: 12'30
    • Grade: 4
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Pennsylvania Faux Songs

(Folk Songs Pennsylvanians forgot to write)
Johan de Meij
 
 

PUBLICATION IN PREPARATION

 


Pennsylvania Faux Songs

(Folk Songs Pennsylvanians forgot to write)

Johan de Meij

When I was asked to compose a new work for the 190th anniversary of the legendary Allentown Band, America’s oldest community band, I didn’t hesitate: it was a no-brainer. What an honor to write for a musical group founded in 1828. I gave conductor Ronald Demkee an enthusiastic: Yes! My first idea was composing an instrumental suite based on Pennsylvania folk songs. Demkee agreed, and I began researching the musical heritage of The Keystone State. But after three weeks of looking under every musical rock, I was coming up with nothing: I came to the disappointing conclusion that there were no adequately inspiring melodies to attribute solely to the state. After wringing my hands for quite a bit, I phoned Demkee with a preposterous proposal: “Pennsylvania should have its own folk songs. What if I made them up myself?” Spontaneous laughter erupted on the other side of the line. Yet Demkee gave me the green light. It resulted in a suite of five songs—all of which could have come from Pennsylvanian denizens long time ago:

On the Banks of the Susquehanna River
The Gettysburg March
The Girl from Allegheny
The Punxsutawney Groundhog Waltz
The Allentown Jig

The world premiere was enthusiastically received on the Fourth of July, 2018, performed by The Allentown Band under the composer’s baton, exactly 190 years after their very first concert in 1928.