For some time I had wanted to create a work using my favorite American folksongs. The opportunity presented itself when Elisabeth Bryant approached me to write a work for wind ensemble. After picking out four folksongs, Bird's Courting Song,  Johnson Boys, A Bachelor's Song, and I Never will Marry, I discovered their connecting theme: courting. Each song contains the same basic plot telling the trials and tribulations of a bumbling person's attempt at courting. After some time I decided to bring these four together creating, a new folksong tone poem, whose story is told through melodies rather than words. 

To tell the story each folksong melody becomes a character.  Johnson Boys is the theme for a bumbling but confident young man setting out to court a young lady. When he bemoans his sorry state and insecurity A Bachelor's Song is heard. The object of his desire, is represented by I Never will Marry.  Bird's Courting Song, heard throughout the piece, plays the role of fate for-telling the inevitable outcome of the story. These melodies are intertwined and developed to form one big folk-song, Johnson Boys. 

Johnson Boys was commissioned by and premiered by the South Shore Conservatory (MA) All Star Band under the direction of Elisabeth Bryant.


8 minutes

The South Shore Conservatory All Star Band, Elisabeth Bryant, conductor, Hingham, Massachusetts.