Continuing the thread of “Behind The Tracks” posts about my new album “Enter The Fadolín” (now available for pre-order at Bandcamp as a download, as a collection of sheet music or handmade autographed CD-R), this post focuses on two tracks that go back-to-back, hand-in-hand:
“Going Home -> Leaving Home -> Finding Home Again” and “Light”
Listen to them both below as you read this post.
“Going Home -> Leaving Home -> Finding Home Again” takes its inspiration from the very famous melody of the slow movement (the “Largo”) from Antonin Dvořák’s “New World” Symphony, composed in 1893. I first encountered it during my first summer in the United States, when I was a violin (!) student at the Interlochen Arts Camp — this was also my first time playing in an orchestra.
Fast forward to 2020 — I was standing on the corner of 95th and Broadway in Manhattan with a fadolín in my hands, playing music for our neighbors. Due to the pandemic, our neighborhood experienced an influx of people who chose to seek safety on our streets rather than risk going to a shelter. Earlier that week I had taught a student the melody “Goin’ Home” melody ––but what was “home” for the people on the street? I thought it might be interesting to play this melody for an extended time and see how it changes, how it bends. “Going Home -> Leaving Home -> Finding Home Again” was a good structural construct for an improvisation. If you’re a pedestrian walking down the street, you have a destination – your time beats fast. But if you’re a performer on the street, your time is slow, it’s guided by the path of the sun, by the interval between the buses, the ambulances… I played it on the street, then went home and played the melody on Facebook Live for twenty minutes. A couple of weeks later, I was a guest on the “Mondays with Mark and Maggie O’Connor” online concert series. I wanted to play “Going Home” but my time slot was shorter — so I improvised a more compact rendition. The version you’re hearing on the album, at around 7 minutes, is one I transcribed from that performance.
“Light” is an improvisation on the African-American spiritual “This Little Light of Mine“. I’ve had it in my ears for years — and it came back to me on a day known as “Blackout Tuesday“, a day action to protest the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor (and many others). That evening, a curfew was enforced in New York City and a police barricade prohibited movement south of 96th street in our neighborhood. That evening I draped a black handkerchief over my computer’s camera and played “We Shall Overcome” and “This Little Light of Mine” as a medley on Facebook Live. As I was recording “Going Home” for the album, this beautiful, hopeful song came back to me.
Thank you so much for listening – enjoy!
||> See a playlist videos of Ljova’s new music released during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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