An important part of the folk tradition is the presence of variant forms of the same tune or text, even within the single-line melody.
Sacred and secular folk songs occupy the same musical territory: the music without the words can't tell if it belongs to the church or the parlor. The 'concert' on this recording celebrates both strains as found in the Shendandoah Valley of Virginia in the early-to-mid-nineteenth century. The hymns in the cantata are as varied as the folk songs in the following suites, and were sung by the same people in their daily lives.
The moment that a folksong is to be sung by more than one voice, or to be played on more than one instrument, the tendency to variation is greatly extended. Someone - the singers, players or arranger - has to decide who will do what, and bring to the tune the benefit of another point of view, based on experience, ability and imagination. They may become a popular song, a symphonic movement or an instrumental solo, each reflecting the bent, or need of the particular re-creator.
I have spent years studying, composing and conducting choral music, and an equal amount of time collecting, listening to and singing folk melodies. The particular 'transformations' in this collection are the result of the combination of all these activities. As with many of my distinguished predecessors (Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Britten, et al.), I recognize the incredible value of folksongs both as music and social history, and wish to bring them alive to a new audience. The aim is simple: to preserve the unique quality of each tune while challenging the performer and delighting the listening ear. --- Alice Parker