Showing posts with label Chris Braddock. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chris Braddock. Show all posts

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Two Harpsichords, Two Guest Artists, One Premiere & "Catch 1"

By Christine Facciolo

Mélomanie’s concerts just keep getting better and better. Not that this innovative ensemble — that looks both to the past and to the future — ever delivers anything short of sheer excellence. But Sunday’s concert at The Delaware Contemporary knocked it out of the park with a World Premiere, the graphic notation of Polish composer Roman Haubenstock-Ramati, two guest artists as well as some delightful selections from the Baroque era.

The ensemble opened the concert with an extremely well-polished and impeccably precise rendering of the Chaconne from Marin Marais’ Suite 1 in C major (from Pieces en trio 1692).

Mélomanie performs with guest artists Matthew Bengtson & Chris Braddock.
Photo by Tim Bayard.
Harpsichordist Tracy Richardson then joined composer Christopher Braddock on the octave mandolin for a performance of Pluck, a piece that Braddock wrote in 2009 — a time when Braddock said he had far less personal responsibilities.

Braddock explained that he chose the instrument because it produces some of the low-end heft of the guitar along with the fiddle-like bounce of the mandolin, making it the perfect vehicle for Pluck with its idiomatic folk-style writing.

It was most interesting and entertaining to hear Richardson and the harpsichord take to the folk medium like second nature.

The highlight of the first half of the program, though, was Haubenstock-Ramati’s Catch 1 (1968) for two harpsichords adapted in Caught (2018) by Mark Hagerty. It’s doubtful that many in the audience ever heard anything by this composer since discs documenting his work are quite rare.

Haubenstock-Ramati’s aim was to move musicians far beyond what he perceived to their comfort zone of conventional notation. Yet the question of how to interpret his pictorial images remains. Hagerty’s realization features notated passages and snippet that can be freely selected and varied by the interpreters — in this case, Richardson and guest artist Matthew Bengtson — in response to the graphic notation.

It’s doubtful that anyone in the audience had ever heard music like this before. The experience would have been complete had there not been a technological glitch that prevented concertgoers from seeing the actual notation. Nevertheless, this was truly “music for the moment,” as Hagerty urged audience member to listen without regard to what came before or what was to follow.

Following intermission, Bengtson offered two selections from Pieces de Clavecin by Armand-Louis Couperin, cousin of the more famous Francois. Armand-Louis’ work is generally not considered as sophisticated as Louis’ but it is attractive and full of personality. Bengtson interpreted “L’Afflige” and “L’Intrepide” with sensitivity and intelligence. He was particularly successful in keeping Couperin’s rhythms flexible without distorting them and without sacrificing spontaneity.

Bengtson then rejoined Richardson for a vivid, imaginative performance of the Duetto I in C major for two harpsichords by Christoph Schaffrath, an important harpsichordist and composer in the court of Frederick the Great. Both were impressive in their execution of these demanding keyboard parts.

The concert concluded with the World Premiere of Braddock’s Hooks & Crooks, which the composer explained was written during a series of family vacations at various locales. Scored for flute, violin, viola da gamba and guitar, the work showed Braddock to be a flexible, eclectic composer with a sense of humor. The ensemble played with customary vitality and color as the music faded like a summer memory.


Friday, February 23, 2018

Good Musical Vibes from Music School Faculty & Friends

Chris Dahlke, viola. Photo courtesy of The Music School of Delaware.

By Christine Facciolo
It’s a pretty safe bet that TheMusic School of Delaware didn’t anticipate 75-degree temps at concert time when it titled Wednesday night’s program “Good Vibes and Winter Winds.” But weather notwithstanding, this was a most interesting — and entertaining — program to come out for, no matter what Mother Nature was up to.

Indeed, it’s a rare event that gives an audience the opportunity to hear works by Stravinsky, Lennon & McCartney and Haydn performed by the School’s talented faculty plus one “rising star” student.

Trumpets heralded the opening of the program as Malcolm McDuffee and Jay Snyder performed Stravinsky’s Fanfare for a New Theatre, composed in 1964 to celebrate the opening of the New York State Theatre as part of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

Flutist Paula Nelson and Augustine "Gus" Mercante — this time using his voice to narrate — offered Alan Ridout’s The Emperor and the Bird of Paradise, a delightful tale of imprisonment, freedom and happiness.

McDuffee returned with pianist Donna Beech to perform Barat’s Andante & Scherzo with sensitivity and note-perfect accuracy. Beech, flutist Melinda Bowman and cellist Matthew Genders offered a colorful and incisive reading of Martinu’s charming Flute-Cello-Piano Trio. From the care-free Allegretto with its bird-like trills for the flute and attractive melodies, to the calm and restful Adagio and jaunty finale, the musicians gave a fresh and breezy interpretation of this joyful work.

McDuffee and Snyder once again inaugurated the opening of the second half of the program with a performance of Plog’s Fanfare for Two Trumpets.

Paula Nelson (flute), Jacob Colby (violin) and Rowena Gutana (cello) joined together to show why Haydn’s London Trios have endured despite falling out of vogue in the 19th Century. Their performance of the delightful Trio No. 1 in C major was full of zest and vitality, as they explored the composer’s wit and originality as well as his serious side, evidenced by the terse rigor of the development section of the sonata-form first movement.

Chris Dahlke then took the spotlight with accompanist Richard Gangwisch in a performance of the second movement of Walton’s Viola Concerto. Dahlke’s Vivo was energetic and incisive, bristling with jazzy syncopations reminiscent of Prokofiev, whom Walton admired. Dahlke also exhibited a mature and self-assured stage presence that belied his youth. This young man — a mere 16 years of age — has garnered a slew of awards for his playing and no doubt can look forward to a stunning future on the concert stage.

Vibraphonist Wesley Morton reached into the Lennon/McCartney songbook for his contributions. Morton gave sublime and understated renderings of the pop classic Michelle 
— dedicated to his wife to thank her for her patience in living with a musician — and Blackbird, which Lennon and McCartney composed to show the Beatles’ support for the American civil rights movement.

The Pegasus Trio, consisting of Melinda Bowman (flute), Christopher Braddock (guitar) and Jeanmarie Braddock (violin) capped off the evening with performances of two whimsical works by guitarist/composer Braddock. First, they captured the long history of tradition and variety that characterizes Scottish folk music in Braddock’s four movement composition The Hill Trow Prologues. This work tells the story of the Scottish Hill Trow, land-dwelling troll-like fairy creatures with a fondness for music and a reputation for kidnapping musicians or luring them to their Howes.

The Trio then generated a bit of audience participation with their final offering, Make a Hawk a Dove – a TV Heroine Retrospective, a medley of TV themes celebrating several small screen heroines of the '60s and '70s. Particularly touching was the hat toss the women gave in tribute to the late Mary Tyler Moore.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Pegasus Trio Makes Milford Musical This Week!

Pegasus Trio (L-R): Chris Braddock, guitar;
Mindy Bowman, flute & Jeanmarie Braddock, violin.
As part of Milford's popular Third Thursday art & music events, Pegasus Trio returns to Mispillion Art League in Milford to perform music of Bizet, Handel and Joplin as well as traditional Irish songs, Dixieland classics and the trio's own original compositions! Pegasus Trio — Chris Braddock, guitar; Mindy Bowman, flute; and Jeanmarie Braddock, violin — have been popular musical guests at Mispillion previously as well as many other Delaware venues. 

When not performing live, Chris Braddock and Mindy Bowman enjoy busy schedules as faculty members of The Music School of Delaware, which has a location in downtown Milford. Chris is also the Guitar Department Head of the Music School and the director of the school's bluegrass ensemble the Matson Run Pickers. Jeanmarie Braddock is also a music instructor with the Brandywine School District in New Castle County. 

Enjoy the sounds of the mighty Pegasus [Trio] this Thursday, July 18, 6:30pm at Mispillion Art League, 5 N. Walnut Street in Milford. The event is free and family friendly. I also recommend trying out Dolce, a wonderful coffee shop and bakery on Walnut Street as well!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Mėlomanie plays at Immanuel Highlands

The Immanuel Episcopal Church, Highlands has begun a Music at Immanuel program featuring a great fall calendar of performances starting with an evening of Mėlomanie. The program featured a world premiere by guitarist/composer Chris Braddock called Grease in the Groove which was a delightful mix of country music and jazzy sounds for mandolin, twelve-string guitar, harpsichord and cello. Doug McNames, cello, took Braddock’s brash bass line and ran with it, creating a fun and almost washtub effect while Tracy Richardson played a series of delicate scales and arpeggios on the harpsichord. Braddock played his mandolin part which he had made the lead voice dominating the trio. Then he switched to the twelve-string guitar against which he created a very high cello part which took over the dominant voice for the end of the piece — evocative of Scheherazade rather than the country style in which the piece began.

Two baroque pieces introduced each half of the program. The Paris Quartet No. 4 in B Minor, TWV 43: h2 featured Chris Braddock playing an additional continuo to Richardson’s harpsichord and the Concerto No. 3 in D Major by Joseph Bodin de Boismortier which featured Eve Friedman (baroque flute) and Priscilla Smith (baroque oboe). Both pieces were lively and light; not at all out of place with the contemporary pieces on the program.

Mėlomanie also presented excerpts of four pieces they had commissioned in the past decade and invited each composer to speak about his or her piece. Not only was it a treat to have the composers be present for the concert, but it was interesting to compare the acoustics in Immanuel to those of Grace Church.

Violinist Christof Richter
Chuck Holdeman said his Quarter note = 48 was written in 5/4 time to make sure there was no recognizable downbeat, but the impeccable coordination between flutist Kim Reighley and cellist Doug McNames made it seem more strictly laid out than he led us to believe. Ingrid Arauco’s Pavane opened with the harpsichord’s sparkling high register and melted into a fugal resolution picked up by the modern flute, gamba, cello and violin. Mark Hagerty’s Trois Rivières excerpt was very jazzy with a 5/8 meter creating a dance feel which he felt was influenced by his time spent in Brazil.

Flutist Kimberly Reighley

The two excerpts from Kile Smith’s The Nobility of Women were brilliantly played by his daughter Priscilla, for whom he wrote the piece. Her baroque oboe sound is so incredibly smooth that the listener might forget it is a double reed instrument – the baroque oboe being more temperamental even than its prima donna modern cousin. The Sarabande is slow and sad and the oboe voice pierces plumbs the darkness with its soulful sound and the Canarios, which featured all of the Mėlomanie players, was written in a traditional baroque style, yet it still evokes a very swinging and modern dance, especially when the oboe is playing long dotted rhythms over the other voices.

Mėlomanie will continue their residence at Grace Church on Washington Street in January.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Week in the Company of the Queen: Live & Lots of Local

OK, this is way late for a post, but I couldn’t get these guys out of my head. So…here’s my summary of one week of music, featuring love for fantastic local musicians and props for the love being shown to them by World Café Live at the Queen (WCLQ).

Event #1: Open Mic Tuesday
I headed out with some gal pals to the 6:30pm performance at WCLQ (500 N. Market Street, Wilmo) and enjoyed earfuls of awesomeness that covered nearly every genre from musicians of every background.   Lead-off for the night was a performer who wowed us with an incredible 10-minute set of African drumming and song.  I wish I remembered his name, but when I find it, I WILL let you know!  Following him, the Mosaic String Duo of guitarists Chris Braddock and Doug Seth gave us a rousing performance and a tour around the globe with their original music.   Touching on Spanish, classical, even “bluegrassy” influences, they had the crowd clapping, cheering and whooping it up during their entire set.  I hope they make a return visit to Upstairs Live very soon!  Also amazing that night was WCLQ regular, pianist/vocalist Noelle Picara, who I heard performs for happy hour on Fridays Upstairs Live as well.


Event #2: Free Noontime Concerts
Another girlie pal and I met at WCLQ on a Friday afternoon for nosh (note: try the eggplant fries…YUM) and nuttiness from the ultimate “dork rock” duo, Hot Breakfast!  The pairing of Jill Knapp and Matt Casarino kept the packed room dancing in the streets…I mean, seats…for a great lunchtime break.  Their wacky set included songs like The Hole in Your Pants and epic covers of classic tunes from The Buggles (Video Killed the Radio Star) and Bonnie Tyler (Total Eclipse of the Heart).  This duo are as hilarious as they are talented…Yes, Breakfast is great for lunch!

Follow them @hotbreakfast

Event #3: Six Voices, One Piano
My final trip to WCLQ was a benefit for the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition.   It highlighted not only great vocalists, but also the continued benevolence of one in particular: Joe Trainor.  He organized the event and gathered a stellar line-up that starred Noelle Picara (who wowed us earlier at Open Mic Night), Leslie Carey, Brian Diltz, Gina Degars, Angela Sheik and Trainor himself.  The stark set and lone keyboard drew you in to their raw talent…wouldn’t it be nerve-wracking to perform just you and your piano?  Offering up both original music (Angela Sheik debuted a song called Good Year) and covers, their performances were effortless and soothing and powerful.   I know I’ve said this before, but I love to watch Joe perform.  He takes you on a emotional trip inside his own songs and practically transforms himself into whoever he’s covering---Billy Joel, the Beatles, you name it.  You’re really missing something special, in both talent and compassion, if you’ve never seen him.

Follow the Joe Trainor Trio @JTTrio

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Mosaic String Duo at the South Coastal Library

Both of the musicians are teachers. Douglas Seth founded the Guitar Academy of Southern Delaware after years of teaching in Florida and Chris Braddock has taught for many years at the Music School of Delaware and is currently guitar department head. Their concerts are lessons in stringed instruments: an octave mandolin, an oud (the Middle Eastern ancestor of the lute), a Dobro or resonator guitar, a twelve-string and classical guitar for Braddock and a classical, flamenco and electric guitar for Seth.

The concert consisted of pieces written by Braddock and Seth and they treated the crowd to brief explanations of titles, introductions to the various instruments and spoke of the composing process. Seth’s strong classical style and training (listen to his rendition of the prelude to the Bach Cello suite on his web site) is a great backdrop for Braddock’s more eclectic musical style. Together the two of them are quite creative.

Their tongue-in-cheek musical jibes as in the piece Ottmar Who?, a gentle mockery of Ottmar Lieber’s constant use of flamenco themes, was a lot of fun – with Braddock playing a melody reminiscent of a James Bond walk-on theme and Seth playing a constant flamenco ostinato in accompaniment. Seth’s virtuosic guitar solo for RW’s Backwoods Adventure took him to a very complex picking pattern of a wild country music hoe-down with Braddock accompanying him on the resonator guitar.

It was a fun evening and a delight to see such a large and enthusiastic crowd on a stormy rainy night at Bethany Beach.


Friday, January 15, 2010

Born in the 20th Century

On a very cold and dull January Sunday, musicians were busy preparing for a most unusual concert – a gathering of composers, some performing their own pieces, in a church. As our blog has reported before, Calvary Episcopal Church has invited musicians, actors and other artists to show their creativity to their congregation and to the community.

All of the composers on the program were born in the twentieth century, all but Miles Davis are still living. Three of the composers were present and two played in their own works.

Christopher Braddock’s piece, All the days he has seen, was inspired by Winterthur’s Hippocampus and Box Scroll Garden. The guitar, flute and violin trio is a baroque-inspired work but with modern harmony – a muse on what Hippocampus sees during the changing seasons in his reflecting pool.

Chuck Holdeman’s Avant, adage, après for bassoon and piano is a piece in three movements – the first and last movements having a very jazzy and syncopated style and the middle movement made up of sustained chords which the composer used to create an effect of dreamy contemplation.

Kirk O’Riordan’s Pressing forward, pushing back was perhaps a bit too amorphous for my taste – the wild beginning felt like ambulances off to an emergency – with Melinda Bowman, flute and Richard Gangwisch, piano giving it a great run for the money. But O’Riordan told me later that his piece was his expression of how people resist new ideas…and I guess I am guilty of resisting.

Andrea Clearfield (not present) wrote a trio called Spirit Island and two movements were offered, showing off Hiroko Yamazaki’s amazing energy and technique on the piano. Her playing provided a great basis for Jennifer Stomberg’s cello and Melinda Bowman’s flute lines. I found Rowing much more of a structured piece than Variations on a dream.

Hats off to Zachary Crystal for a startlingly surprising soft beginning of Michi by Keiko Abe for solo marimba. Crystal played with four mallets and started and ended so softly that he drew the audience’s attention with a pianissimo and said adieu the same way.

Next month’s community event is a photography contest. Entry forms and rules are on their web site.


Monday, October 5, 2009

Arty at the Blue Ball Barn with Melomanie

Arty went to the Blue Ball Barn for the October 3 Mélomanie Special Concert and Party, a fundraiser for their new recording of music by five regional composers: Ingrid Arauco, Chris Braddock, Mark Rimple, Mark Hagerty, and Chuck Holdeman. The Holdeman and Hagerty pieces have already been recorded at UD’s Gore Hall by Meyer Media. Composer Ingrid Arauco is eagerly anticipating the recording of her Florescence.

Tommie Almond, President of the Mélomanie Board, was the adroit mistress of ceremonies. Arty enjoyed hot hors d’oeuvres by Greenery Catering staff before sitting down to hear the full Mélomanie ensemble play a short overture and gigue by Georg Muffat, (1653-1704) followed by some Michel Corette (1707-1795) duos for viola da gamba and cello played by Donna Fournier and Doug McNames- an excellent illustration of the difference between the modern cello and its older cousin, the viola da gamba.

This first musical interlude concluded with a movement of Chris Braddock’s Close Tolerances, whose name he took from the concept of gears meshing in close tolerance just as musicians achieve a close tolerance of voices in ensemble.

Party guest Sally Milbury-Steen is also working on close tolerances of power sources in her efforts to wake Wilmington up to the need to transition away from carbon as advised by Rob Hopkins Transition Town movement.

The second musical interlude featured Fran Berge playing baroque violin in Marco Uccelini’s (1603-1680) toccata for violin and basso continuo, one of the first pieces to feature solo violin.

Chuck Holdeman described the third movement of his Sonate en Trio as “like a Hostess Twinkie with a surprise inside.”

The finale, Chaconne in E minor from Quartet 6 of Georg Philipp Telemann’s Paris Quartets, put the party in a joyful mood. Michael Foster, music librarian and radio host, suggested to composers Mark Hagerty and Chuck Holdeman to compose more pieces using the now obsolete technical innovations for violin by Marco Uccelini.

Composer Mark Rimple pulled the event’s winning raffle ticket: The prize of a party at Blue Ball Barn went to WSFS executive Drew Aaron. Aaron and his wife were at the party representing WSFS, a corporate sponsor of the Mélomanie CD project. He and his wife, Judy, will host their going-away party for his parents who are moving to Florida.

Arty had so much fun, he angled for an invite to the Aaron’s Blue Ball event, but didn’t get a nibble.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Brandywine Guitar Quartet Braves the Storm

The guitars of BGQ plucked Dan Graper’s arrangement of a William Zinn string quartet version of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” as one hundred people listened in the beautiful Pell Gardens along the C & D Canal in Chesapeake City.

The music and the idyllic setting seemed like something from another world – picnic blankets, happy faces, dogs and babies, and a very Spanish-sounding classical guitar quartet.

After two movements of Mozart, the quartet played Graper’s arrangement of a Georg Philipp Telemann string quartet, which showed their virtuosity – especially in a tricky fugal movement. They suddenly changed style in a Vivace they added to the Telemann.

Chris Braddock joined Graper on “Ballad for Kay” for two guitars by Nick Webb of Acoustic Alchemy.

After a dramatic Intermezzo from the opera “Goyescas” by Enrique Granados, a crack of thunder drowned the applause. The quartet continued with “Blue Tango” by Leroy Anderson, but those clouds burst and the crowd ran for cover.

The untimely ending left the crowd hungry for more, but no worries. Their appetite can be appeased on October 18 at Kennett Flash in Kennett Square, when BGQ will repeat the show and feature Mark Unruh in a ragtime/swing song that garnered him a bluegrass guitar prize.

Dan Graper’s music:
Chris Braddock’s music:

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Brandywine Guitar Quartet at Pell Gardens

Chris Braddock, Dan Graper, Mark Unruh and Mark Oppenheimer are the versatile members of the guitar quartet they founded in the summer of 2008.

Speaking to Chris about the group means hearing the incredible energy and enthusiasm he has for the music. He, like the other three, is a composer (see blog on SOWETO Festival for a review of his composition for harpsichord and mandolin for Melomanie.)

For the August 9 concert at the Pell Gardens along the canal in Chesapeake City, Chris has transposed the William Zinn arrangement of Eine Kleine Nachtmusik by Mozart, and Dan Graper has arranged some Leroy Anderson string quartet arrangements of Blue Tango, Jazz Pizzicato, Belle of the Ball.

They will even do a Beethoven trio arrangement as well as the first movement of the third Brandenburg Concerto – so variety will not be lacking.

Come enjoy the gardens under the stars with this free concert.

To listen to the quartet:

To hear Dan Graper’s music:

To hear Chris Braddock’s music:

Monday, July 20, 2009

ARTY at the Party!

Our very own arts party-hopper, ARTY, was out on the town this week. This time, Arty hit the annual Mélomanie picnic on July 18 at the home of co-Artistic Director and harpsichordist Tracy Richardson. The ensemble hosts the event each year to celebrate its past season, thank colleagues and collaborators, and look to the coming year. Arty was thrilled to see that the intimate get-together was a veritable “who’s who” of regional performers! Arty chatted up violinist Sylvia Ahramjian and Mélomanie co-Artistic Director and flutist Kim Reighley, who were both delighted to be holding repertory classes this year at West Chester University.

Composer Chuck Holdeman was excited about the premiere of his Quintetto, set for the International Double Reed Society convention in England on July 23.

Guitarist and composer Chris Braddock---there with his beautiful wife, soprano Jeanmarie Braddock, and daughter Ellie---talked enthusiastically about his Brandywine Guitar Quartet’s upcoming concert on August 9 in Chesapeake City.

Also in attendance was composer Ingrid Arauco, who was quite pleased with the recent premiere of her Divertimento at the Delaware Chamber Music Festival. Percussionist Gerardo Razumney was lively, as he explained to guests the difference between Argentinian tango and the American ballroom tango.

A great gathering of artists on a beautiful summer day! Look for information on Mélomanie's 2009-2010 season coming soon! Thanks for the invite, Mélomanie!

Got a party you'd like ARTY to attend? Send us an email at

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

3 Arty Things You Need to Know

I love promoting new, unique, or "underground" projects. While I don't consider these "underground", I do believe more people should discover them!

1. DHF Books & Authors Series
Delaware Humanities Forum features City Theater Company actors in a monthly book discussion series called Interpreting Dreams. The first of three programs starts June 19 at 7:00pm at Ameritage Bistro, featuring Song Yet Sung by James McBride, which details the story of runaway slaves. CTC favorite, actor TS Baynes, will no doubt give another of her dynamic performances for the reading that kicks off the program. Also, percussionist Kamau Ngom performs African drum music and talks about connections among blues music, country shouts, and the Underground Railroad.

See or

2. New Wilmington Art Association
This group of contemporary artists has steadily created buzz, and I couldn’t be more jazzed to see their work — sculpture, installation, photography, video and more — arrive on the Wilmington art scene. It’s refreshing, thrilling, sometimes even bewildering — and you need to see it all. NWAA member Ron Longsdorf has a solo exhibition in DDOA’s Mezzanine Gallery through July 17. But July’s Art on the Town (7/3) will see a massive group show from NWAA members at 605 Market. Get there!


3. Brandywine Guitar Quartet
The group features a fave musician of mine: guitarist, composer and teacher Chris Braddock. All its members are classically educated and accomplished performers and instructors around the region, and they’ve joined forces to perform a range of music including classical, jazz, flamenco, and more. Check them out August 9 at 6:00 p.m. at the Cecil County Summer Music Concert Series at Pell Gardens in Chesapeake City, MD.

See or

Monday, May 25, 2009

Chris Braddock's duet

A couple of years ago, Tracy Richardson and I collaborated on a piece I’d written for dobro and harpsichord. It got a positive reaction when we performed it together at a Mélomanie concert. But I couldn’t figure out if that reaction was due to the real musical worth of the piece or rather the novelty of combining an American bluegrass instrument with a European classical one. The last thing any composer wants is to use a cheap gimmick to get applause.

Last year Tracy suggested doing another piece for that combination. It’s always great to work with Tracy, so I said, “Sure!” I’d been playing mandolin and enjoying it so much that I decided to write a duet for those two instruments. For one thing, the mandolin is a much easier instrument to play convincingly than the dobro.

And the combination makes sense. They’re both plucked, metal-string instruments. The project assumed greater legitimacy last fall, when my family and I visited Mount Vernon, the northern Virginia estate of George and Martha Washington. During the house tour, one walks past the music room. There were a harpsichord and a mandolin.

Like many composers, and especially guitarists, I have lots of little “riffs” in my head. These figures sound particularly good on the mandolin. So I assembled these segments into a coherent piece of music. The harpsichord part came after that.

Composers sometimes say they’re disappointed the first time they hear a piece rehearsed. Perhaps it’s hard to measure up to the version in their heads. That was not the case with my piece “Pluck.” Right away it seemed natural, spontaneous and full of energy.