This last week a voice student of mine participated in “All State Choir” held in Bellevue Washington. This brought back many memories for me – as I also participated in this event when I was a junior in high school. It was a 3 day event held in Yakima, Washington – a chance to sing with the best of the best in all high schools across Washington, Montana and Northern Idaho.
I have many memories of being involved in this event – but my FAVORITE one is this next song. It is the exact arrangement that our choir did. If you listen to it all the way through you will hear the melody line and the harmonies sounding like waves on a river – the gentle soft rolls, dipping and falling. At some points in the song, the harmonies rising above the melody line – and then the beautiful falsetto voices of the men. I have never heard an arrangement that can equal this one.
I found this explanation of the lyrics and song origin on Wikipedia:
“The lyrics may tell the story of a roving trader in love with the daughter of an Indian chief; in this interpretation, the rover tells the chief of his intent to take the girl with him far to the west, across the Missouri River. Other interpretations tell of a pioneer’s nostalgia for the Shenandoah River Valley in Virginia, or of a Confederate soldier in the American Civil War, dreaming of his country home in Virginia. The provenance of the song is unclear.”
Whatever you think the meaning of the song – I’m sure that you will agree that this is one of the most BEAUTIFUL folk ballads ever written. I find myself becoming emotional at the sheer simple sweetness of this arrangement – as I remember singing the second soprano part – over 30 years ago. Come along on my journey as I remember the past.
Hope you enjoy it!