Vernacular Dances (Piano Solo)

Solo Piano (1996) Three Movements. ca. 12’30”

Premiered by Perry Townsend at Steinway Hall. Of the premiere, the reviewer for the New Music Connoisseur (Vol. 5, No. 4, 1997) wrote: “Starting off the program was Griffin’s Vernacular Dances, which plays off popular styles (Latin rhythms, blues, jazz) in a very serious way. This muscular work, expertly played by pianist Perry Townsend, was the strongest of the concert.”

Recorded by Teresa McCollough (for Innova) and Tomoko Deguchi (for Capstone). See Discography.

Watch pianist and visual artist Hugh Sung’s intrepretation of the first movement, filmed at Field Concert Hall, The Curtis Institute of Music:

Listen to Teresa McCollough perform the second movement:


Listen to Perry Townsend perform the third movement:


Program Note:

A composer can only express their perception of the world through the filter of their own experience, and since my earliest musical experiences revolved around singing and drumming, I often incorporate in my writing elements of popular and/or world music that are most compelling to me, within the context of continuing a concert music tradition. Written in February 1996, Vernacular Dances is a three-movement work that comes from this impulse. The first movement blends jazz and latinesque motor rhythms with melodic material loosely derived from Webern’s Variations for Piano, Op. 27, Mvt. 2. The second movement is gentle and arioso, orchestrally conceived. The third contrasts blues rhythms with some I picked up listening to Latin Jazz. The piece was premiered by Perry Townsend at Steinway Hall in new York, and has been recorded by Tomoko Deguchi for Capstone Records and by Teresa McCollough for Innova Records.

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