I'd like to share below the recordings from my String Quartet no. 1: Botanical which was begun during the summer of 1997, mainly as an outlet to express positive feelings and memories in music. At the time, I was writing a lot of darker pieces, or pieces about love lost, so most of my positive feelings went into the Quartet. The piece is probably the most neo-classical I've written, with most of my other output being rooted in Romantic sensibilities, and I think the "instrument" of a quartet suggested that direction to me. However, I couldn't help being quite programmatic in my thinking while writing the movements.
While adding articulation marks to the piece on the T, (Boston's Subway), I met Frank Ignolia, another composer and teacher at Northeastern. He also had a quartet he wished to premiere, and we got together with Chris Avery, a Juilliard grad to put a concert together. The following is the recording of my piece from the concert taking place shortly after 9/11/2001. With the tragic events in the background of everyone's thoughts, I felt that the old Americana optimism of the pieces was a welcome distraction, and the crowd was enthusiastic at St. Paul's Church in Brookline.
1) Prelude to Summer - That feeling when summer is coming and the world is glowing with life.
2) Aquatic Creatures Rejoice - I imagine happy little fish in a pond, stealing bait, and nobody's catching any fish.
3) Doin' Nothin' - Not enough pieces to commemorate this non-activity, in my opinion.
4) Breezy Nocturne (Wild Oaks) - I stood on Beacon Street at 3AM and watched the trees sway gently, as if alive in the wind.
5) Botanical Overture - A recap of the first theme goes into some wild variations. A fantasy of childhood adventure, mixed with a love of nature.
- Jesse Hopkins