The Pilgrim (2012) is an adaptive arrangement in the spirit of Copland’s Appalachian Spring, using the same 13-voice instrumentation. Where Copland’s work embellished on the famous Shaker melody “Simple Dreams,” I decided to visit my southern Appalachian roots and set a tune from the Sacred Harp anthology: “Beach Spring,” more commonly known in hymnody as “Come to Me, All Pilgrims Thirsty.” The finished work was programmed back to back with Copland’s by the Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra at the University of Miami.
The chamber orchestration of The Pilgrim is notable for a few reasons. One, in lieu of writing for the typical string desks one would see in an orchestra, I chose to write separate parts for each string player. Two, I made heavy use of double stops in the strings, aiming to provide a southern “fiddle” sound to the ensemble. This expanded the texture immensely, making the 13-piece group sound much fuller than it actually was. The work also features a lengthy bassoon solo and a very exposed double bass solo in its treble register (if all thirsty pilgrims are to come, they should all get something good to drink). Rich in color and texture, this Americana work paints a beautiful picture of southern Appalachia.