VIGNETTES: COVERED WAGON WOMAN: From the Daily Journal of Margaret Ann Alsip Frink, 1850

By Carman, Judith | Journal of Singing, May/June 2012 | Go to article overview

VIGNETTES: COVERED WAGON WOMAN: From the Daily Journal of Margaret Ann Alsip Frink, 1850


Carman, Judith, Journal of Singing


(ProQuest: ... denotes formula omitted.)

SMITH, ALAN LOUIS (b. 1955). VIGNETTES: COVERED WAGON WOMAN: From the Daily Journal of Margaret Ann Alsip Frink, 1850. For Mezzo-Soprano, Violin, Cello, and Piano (2 Scores and a Set of Parts). Alan Louis Smith, 2008 (CVR). Tonal; G3-G#5; Tess: mL-H, Wide; regular meters with some changes; varied tempos (... = 60-124); WmE-D, P/mE-D, Vln/mE-mD, Vlc/ mE-D; 101 pages (ca. 45+ minutes).

1. "The Allure of the West" (Instrumental). 4/4, Andante ... = ca. 60; 3½ pages.

2. "Prologue to the Journal." A-centered; A3-D#5; Tess: mL; 3/4, 4/4, 2/4, With energy and a positive spirit ... = ca. 80; V/D, P/ mD, Vln/M, Vlc/mD; 5+ pages.

3. "There's a Lady." E major; B3-F5; Tess: M-mH; 6/8, 3/4, Quick and kicky .... = ca. 100; V/mD, P/M, Vln/M,Vlc/M; 7+ pages.

4. "Considerable Excitement." Tonal; C#4-E[musical flat]5; Tess: M; 4/4, 6/4, Moderato - With anxiety ... = ca. 120; V/mD, P/mE, Vln/M, Vlc/M; 5 pages.

5. "The Face of the Earth." A-centered; C4-D5; Tess: M; 3/4, Very expansively ... = ca. 50; V/mE-M, P/M, Vln & Vlc tacet; 3 pages.

6. "Buffalo Chase." G/D-centered; C4-F#5; Tess: M; 4/4, Rapidly ... = 80; V/D, P/mD, Vln/mD, Vlc/D; 18 pages.

7. "The Sioux Tribe and the 'White Squaw'." Tonal; C#4-E5; Tess: M; 4/4, Moderato ...= ca. 100 (more in "two" than in "four"); V/M, P & Vln tacet; Vlc/D; 4 pages.

8. "Lost Boy." G minor; G3-G#5; Tess: Wide, H; 4/4, Agitated ... = 124; V/D, P/D, VIn & Vlc tacet; 11 pages.

9. "Upon Them She Depended." Tonal; D4-E5; Tess: M; 3/4, Moderately quick, not dragging ... = 120 (waltz-like); V/mD, P/E, Vln/mE, Vlc/mE; 5 pages.

10. "The Mountain." Tonal; A[musical flat]3-F#5; Tess: Wide, CR; 3/4, 2/4, 6/4, 5/4, Andante ... = ca. 80; V/D, P/mD, Vln/M-mD, Vlc/M; 14 pages.

11. "Margaret's Dream" (Instrumental). 4/4, Andante ... = ca. 70; 6 pages.

12. "Here We Are." Tonal; G3-D#5; Tess: mL-M; 4/4, 6/4, 5/4, Moving ... = 80; V/D, P/mD, Vln/M, Vlc/M; 8 pages.

13. "Epilogue to the Journal." G-D major; G3-E5; Tess: mL-M; 6/8, 3/4, 4/4, 2/4, Leisurely rocking ... = ca. 40; V/D, P/mD, Vln/mD, Vlc/mD; 9 pages.

Alan Louis Smith, whose earlier cycle Vignettes: Ellis Island was reviewed in the March/April 2010 issue of Journal of Singing, has many abilities that make him an excellent composer for the voice. Currently Chair of Keyboard Studies as well as Director of the Keyboard Collaborative Arts Program at the University of Southern California, he has served for twenty years as a member of the vocal coaching faculty at Tanglewood and has been a frequent adjudicator for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. His long acquaintance and expertise with singers is an important part of the background from which his vocal compositions arise.

When the composer received a commission from Music Accord to composer a chamber work for mezzo soprano Stephanie Blythe, pianist Warren Jones, and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, he became serious about his interest in the lives of pioneer women, especially those who kept diaries. After considerable reading, he settled on the diary of Margaret Frink because of her amazing adventure, her beautiful writing, and the qualities of her immense personal strength. He chose passages that seemed to leap off the page from the one hundred eleven page diary, and they have proven to be the right ones for musical setting.

Margaret Frink and her husband, Ledyard, were part owners of a mercantile store in Martinsville, Indiana, when they decided-not for the first time-to pull up stakes and migrate west, this time all the way to California. They took with them a young boy, Robert (eleven years old), and a young man, Aaron Rose, who had been a clerk in the store. Along the way they encountered and reencountered various people whose wagon trains crossed their solitary path. At some point they took on a Mr. …

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