Ashokan Farewell is one of THE MOST beautiful pieces for violin ever written, but our advanced violinists hardly ever play it because it’s so plain. We asked Kurt Bestor to fancy it up for us in what we hope will be the new definitive version of this piece. The full symphonic treatment adds so much not to mention the virtuosic runs, pedal tone variations, and gorgeous key change that really take Jay Ungar’s perfect melody to a new level. After three days of recording our Simple Gifts CD, we retreated to the big lodge pictured in the background of the video. All 100 students slept overnight in the lodge with the girls upstairs in bunks and all the guys downstairs on the floor with air mattresses. It was one of those classic orchestra bonding experiences. We played games and ate too much food. Random games of pool and ping-pong went nonstop and the out of tune piano in the front room was playing anything but classical music. The next morning Jenny and the video crew arrived but it was WAY too cold to film. The week before we had scouted this beautiful meadow with brightly colored autumn leaves, but in the meantime a storm had blown all the leaves off the trees and none of us wanted to leave the warmth of the cabin for very long. So we set up the chairs and stands as close to the cabin as we could and chose this picturesque field – which usually has volleyball standards on it. Believe it or not, we did the whole video in about three takes. The whole orchestra would run out of the cabin into the freezing air and record a single take then retreat back to the big fireplace indoors. It was one of our most memorable film shoots. The end result, with Sullivan Ballou’s letter added in, is simply moving. It’s education AND inspiration. That’s what our music is all about.
If you haven’t seen our Savior Redeemer of My Soul video that also features Jenny Oaks Baker and tenor Dallyn Vail Bayles, then please take check that one out too.