Program Notes for The Wexford Carol for String Quartet

The;Wexford Carol is the fourth chamber work that I have written based on Anglo-Irish folk materials, a series which began with the Sonata for Violoncello and Piano‚ (Music & ArtsCD-603) and continued through the Sonata for Violin and Piano "Celtic Wedding,"‚ commissioned by Pacific Serenades and premiered in the spring of 199l. This piece differs from the others in that it is in one movement, and the borrowed tune is infused in every measure of the piece, rather than being a dimly lit ghost in the background. The reason for the single movement is to create an intense, seanless and concise dramatic sweep.

It was completed in the summer of 1992 and is the result of my reaction to hearing the carol in a Christmas Eve service at the church where my wife is the music director. Instantly, the entire piece took shape during the performance, and I refined the execution over the next six months. The impression that I am trying to give is one of total melody in three dinensions, each stringed instrument vying with the others for the tune. Another image which influenced the composition of the piece was a memory of a church in Mexico that I visited in the spring of 1992. Every square inch of the interior was covered with gold, mirrors, and fantasy figures of various sizes. The entire visual effect was one of reflected brilliance, almost too beautiful to be perceived, and certainly out of the realm of comprehension. I wanted the melodic drive of the piece to be excruciatingly pretty so that the listener begins to question the nature of beauty itself.