Exploring Our Matrix
The Blog of Dr. James F. McGrath, Clarence L. Goodwin Chair in New Testament Language and Literature at Butler University, Indianapolis
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I’ve long loved the melody “Ashokan Farewell” and so I was delighted when someone brought to my attention this video of Jay Ungar, who wrote it, performing his composition, accompanied by the Molly Mason Family Band.
I heard that only once years ago, when Rebecca Boyer Hall and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra played it at a summer pops concert. Thanks for reminding me.
As an occasional guitar player myself, I love this arrangement for classical guitar:
The last I checked, this was the only version endorsed by Jay Unger on his site, which had a link to where on can purchase the sheet music for the arrangement. It’s also available on CD, here:
I heard Jay Unger’s group and a woman who sings celtic music do a medley of Ashokan Farewell and Come by the Hills, but I can’t remember the woman’s name. If you’d like, I’ll try uploading it to Youtube (it’s audio only, recorded from the radio). When I first heard it I remember thinking that it was the best medley I’d ever heard. I still can’t think of any that surpass it, as the two pieces complement each other exquisitely!
Just for fun, here’s one of my favorites by one of the finest folk/blues interpreters I’ve ever heard, who tragically died at 33, just on the eve of mega-stardom!
I have the DVD set for “The Civil War” which I will watch every now and then and after the journey of watching the entire series the DVD of extra is a special treat. On the extras DVD is an interview with Ungar about the creation of the melody and then he plays it. I have always considered the selection of “Ashokan Farewell” as one of the true genius moments for Ken Burns in the creation of his series on the Civil War.
I remember that series on PBS, and you are absolutely right, i.e. it was pure genius for Ken Burns to chose Ashokan Farewell to complement the poignant drama.
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