The Blue Ridge Mountains have always held a special place in my heart. Having grown up in the coal field region of southwestern Virginia, I was incredibly lucky to be surrounded by the beauty of this region during my formative years. Many people travel great distances to sit on the porch of a cabin in the woods and watch the sun rise over the mountains. I had a front seat to this scene every day of my adolescent life. When asked to serve as the conductor/clinician and to compose a work for the Washington County Virginia All-County Band in 2019, I knew that I had to write a piece that would encompass the beauty, kindness, solitude, and happy times that I was blessed to witness as I grew up in this area.
The four scenes described in the work are experiences in which many of us are familiar. The first is “Sunrise” and allows us to view the horizon as the sun comes up from behind the mountains and allows the landscape to be illuminated, so we can go about the business of the day. Quickly following we are thrust into the day’s activity as we go “About the Town,” running errands, socializing with friends, and enjoying our time and those activities that help us fill it. Next, we take a moment to enjoy a celebration
that many small-towns hold as their most adored summer or fall activity, “The County Fair.” As we move about the fairgrounds we can hear the activities around us in addition to the hustle and bustle of the town just outside the gates. Finally, with the day’s activities slowing, we realize that we have exhausted our energies and we must go home to rest up for tomorrow. In this final “scene,” we are resting comfortably in our bed, looking out the window as darkness reclaims the landscape. We then think back over the activities of the day while we slowly drift off to sleep as “Evening Falls.”
Although the work is titled Scenes from the Blue Ridge, the aural pictures on which it is built could likely be seen in any small town across our great continent. These scenes are part of the fabric of humanity and we are blessed by God to be able to experience this gift throughout our lives.