Tänka na véshu

1. Mota Shoma | Lake Dance
2. Milvarma | Village Dance
3. Keisho | The Snake
4. Véla Tänk | Child’s Dance
5. Vésha | Fisherman’s Dance

Piano | Duration c. 6’00”

Hewitt Hill Music

During my formative years as a composer and pianist, I had the great fortune to play Béla Bartók’s Romanian Folk Dances. These short folk miniatures, based on seven folk tunes that Bartók collected during his travels in Transylvania in central Romania, had an enormous impact on my writing style, and I continued to play them often during my studies at Westminster Choir College and the University of Aberdeen.

For many years I have wanted to compose a companion piece to the Romanian Folk Dances, but I was never able to find source material that I connected with in a deep enough way to do so. Bartók was well-known for his ability to extract folk melodies from various cultures and arrange them in such a fashion that they were very much his own. And so, in 2018, when I was approached by Nancy Railey to compose a new piano work, I decided that that the time was right for a new attempt. This time however, I decided to create imaginary dances from an imaginary people of my own.  

My imaginary people, the Véshu, live in a fishing village called Milvarma. This village is located on a promontory of sorts where two major rivers converge and empty westward into Lake Shoma. The Véshu are a peaceful people who make their living fishing and weaving, vulnerable at times to the fierce weather of the lake, but productive and happy nonetheless. Traditional folk tunes and dances are a natural part of their lives, performed at village feasts and events.

The first dance, Mota Shoma, is a dance that formed out of the awe and respect (and even fear) that the Véshu have for the source of their livelihood, Lake Shoma. The second dance, Milvarma, is so named for the village the Véshu inhabit, and is often heard when welcoming a travelling villager back into their homeland. The third dance is based on the Véshu legend of Keisho, the snake on the far Western bank across Lake Shoma that eats the sun as it sets each evening. Véla Tänk is a simple child’s dance, often used to calm a child’s fears at night (usually after the telling of the legend of Keisho). The final dance, Vésha, exhibits the joy that all Véshu feel in being close to such an abundance of water – this dance is often paired with the village dance in a set, as it is presented here.

-        Thomas LaVoy

Tänka na véshu
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