New Music Friday: Balkan Dances

Happy Friday, everyone! We have another new music selection for you this week: Balkan Dances, a collection of arrangements of folk music by Marcia Stockton.

This suite comes from the rich folk music traditions of southeastern Europe. Five folk dances from Romania, Moldova, Hungary and Serbia that were selected for approachable rhythms, scales, and harmonies. “Hora” means dance, usually a line or circle dance.

  1. Palóc Táncok – a dance from the Palóc region in Hungary. The melody is handed off from one section to another.
  2. Hora Fetelor – a women’s circle dance from Romania. Features the first violins with a swinging accompaniment in the lower strings.
  3. Hora de la Munte – a circle dance from Moldova. Features a second violin-viola duet.
  4. Joc de Leagane – a cradle dance from Transylvania in Romania. The first violins’ plaintive, expressive melody has a curious pizzicato accompaniment.
  5. Basara – a gallop from Serbia. All play presto to a rousing conclusion.

Marcia Stockton (ASCAP) composes predominantly for string orchestra. Her pieces range in difficulty from grade 1 to 4+, and her original compositions span a gamut of styles from quasi-Baroque to late Romantic to Impressionism to 20th-century Americana featuring spirituals and folk tunes. Her works are always tonal, but some stretch listeners’ comfort level a little bit through the use of jazz-influenced harmonies and unusual modulations that explore interesting harmonic relationships. She also composes sacred works. Marcia studied music theory at Swarthmore College (B.A. 1975) and pursued advanced cello study with two eminent Philadelphia Orchestra cellists. She had a fruitful technical career, achieving distinction as Senior Technical Staff Member and Master Inventor at IBM (1983-2005) before turning back to music composition, performance and teaching in 2013. She volunteered with the Carson Valley Sinfonia, a unique orchestra that ignited many music careers by giving string students an opportunity to “apprentice” by playing alongside professionals and community members. Many of her works were premiered by the Sinfonia.

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