Trumpet and Violin Duet



Written for and commissioned by Jared Wallace

Program notes

Trumpeter, Jared Wallace, is of Irish/Scottish descent but lived the early years of his life in New Brunswick where he was heavily influenced by the Celtic/Irish side of Acadian fiddle. The piece explores his roots and the story of Irish immigrants represented in the New Brunswick Census of 1851 and 1861.

In the years following 1845 New Brunswick experienced an influx of Irish immigrants due to the potato famine from 1845-1849. Yet thousands of Irish were living in New Brunswick prior to these events, the census made it possible to identifying those born in England, Scotland, Ireland, “other British possessions” and “other countries” along with their date of entry. Thus making it possible to evaluate the numbers of Irish emigrants entering prior to and during the famine.

Traditional Acadian music can be found in the Atlantic provinces of Canada dating back to the original French settlers in 1604. Considered by many Canadian’s as “old-time” music, Acadian fiddling is dominated by the “Down East” style, a blend of Celtic (Scottish via Cape Breton), Irish and American country fiddle styles. Among many fiddlers from the Atlantic provinces I am influenced by Canada’s most famous New Brunswick fiddlers, Don Messer and Gerry Robichaud.

The first movement (Emigrate) depicts the struggle of living in Ireland during the famine. The piece starts off very clear with a popular traditional Irish folk melody, “O’Connell’s lament”. However, it quickly starts to distort harmonically and rhythmically gradually introducing different extended techniques in the process. The trumpet “fog horn” gradually gets louder and more frequent as the piece moves forward depicting a ship leaving for Canada. The first automatic fog horn was installed in 1859 on Partridge Island, New Brunswick by Robert Foulis (Scottish immigrant). Even if Ireland did not have a fog horn on there ships or the peer, the horn acts as a musical landmark.

The second movement (Voyage) depicts the long and bumpy journey across the North Atlantic Sea from Ireland to New Brunswick. The Violin is tuned ADAE, which lends to the Irish tradition of fiddle music. Double stops at the beginning act like a bagpipe with a drone which finishes off broken by the end of the movement.

The third movement (Immigrate) depicts arriving and settling into New Brunswick society and culture. Unlike the Irish fiddle style the Down east fiddle style is usually much more clear with fewer grace notes, double stops and triplets. I briefly reference the traditional Canadain folk tune, “Twin Sisters” which Gerry Robichaud learned by ear from Oscar Melanson. Robichaud’s style was much more ornamented and busy than Don Messer’s, however, I reference both styles in this movement. At various points the trumpet will untighten all of its valves to produce a clicking sound, this is to reference the tradition of using one or two tap shoes while playing the fiddle. The tap shoe effect is produced more frequently in the Ottawa Valley fiddle style where the rhythm would be constant quarter notes on the beat or repeated eight and two sixteenths.

The down east style of fiddling brings together multiple fiddle styles and ‘Census’ although primarily an Irish story, taps into different regional styles.