10. The Prairie
Pioneer Songs was the brain-child of Robert Marquis. This 47-year-old father of four, and public-relations businessman walked into my teaching studio in the winter of 1992 and told me he wanted to rediscover the piano-playing days of his youth. He was a decent player, and he practiced the intermediate works of Clementi and Chopin.
I had just begun dabbling in composition and had recently written two short pieces for piano. I demonstrated them for Bob, and he loved them, and took them home. The next week he told me the pieces had a true “folky, early-American” sound, and, oh and by the way…”I’ve always wanted to write a show…especially one about pioneers. Let’s do it!”
And so Pioneer Songs was born. In six months we had everything from Gathering to Celebration.
More about Bob later.
Here is some of narration concerning The Prairie. This beautiful yet unnerving piece is set for soprano and mezzo/alto.
The truth is –although the company was delightful —
The pioneers did not like the prairie —
That flat, treeless grassland that went on forever,
And bore no resemblance to home.
Our travelers were used to trees —
Lots of them — And hills.
Without them they lost their sense of scale to their environment,
And could not be comfortable.
It was an unnerving place for the pioneers —
Orchestral & Choral Version
Piano & Choral Version*
*Original Cast CD recording from August 1993:
Joy Bechtler, Soprano
Polly Kopituk, Mezzo-Soprano
David Ronis, Tenor
Martin Hargrove, Bass
Eric Houghton, Piano/Composer