01: AMERICAN VARIATIONS

(Walter Mony, violin / Michal George, guitar) • The genesis of American Variations resulted from a charitable project in Youngstown, Ohio. A local radio station contacted Rollin with an urgent request for a popular song to be used for the noble purpose of raising relief funds for devastated Ohio and Pennsylvania tornado victims. Rollin composed the tune in a few hours; and with the help of a local recording studio and professional musician volunteers, the song was quickly recorded and sang by a chorus of 38 local radio and television personalities. The resulting public service spot was aired many times and raised over $15,000 for community assistance.

The tune became source material for a theme and variations for harpsichord played on tour by American virtuoso Elaine Comparone under the title, Variations and Interludes on an Original American Theme, and was later transcribed in the present form at the request of Rollin’s publisher for extensive Canadian and American tour performances by the Gwyneth Rollin/Lynn Harting-Ware Violin and Guitar Duo.

Instead of the usual location, the theme, subtitled Rock, is placed as the third movement of a five-movement work. The first and last movements, true variations, are subtitled Blues and Bebop respectively. The contrasting second and fourth movements are lyrical sound studies with intermittent references to two Zuni Indian melodies connected with the Corn Harvest Ceremony. Rollin encountered Zuni music during a visit to Native American areas near the border between Arizona and New Mexico.

The hybrid mixture of variation and alternating form is a recurring feature in Rollin’s works. The Native American melodies were used with reverence and respect in line with the concepts of relief and renewal, which generated the original theme.

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