“Daughter of the Stars” is inspired by the American folk tune, Shenandoah. The title comes from the meaning of the word Shenandoah, which is “spruce stream, great plains, beautiful daughter of the stars.” The folk song refers to a river, so while writing the piece I imagined traveling down a river and seeing the beautiful countryside surrounding it. At one point, the river becomes turbulent, goes over a waterfall and opens into a wide, smooth, serene scene. Some say the folk song originated with fur traders and then became a sea shanty. Since sea shanties are often in ¾ time, the melody was adapted to fit this time signature. Some say the folk song originated with slaves, and the lyrics “across the wide Missouri” were originally, “across this world o’ mis’ry.” This inspired the minor and turbulent section of the piece. Most believe the song is about a fur trader in love with an Oneida chief’s daughter and longing to see her, which fits so well with the melancholy yet hopeful nature of the piece.
This piece was the 2nd place winner in the 2020 American Prize in Composition – pops/light music division. Chief judge of the competition, David Katz, commented, “Traditional sounds and scoring for strings: attractive, competent. Has a nice feeling, vaguely nostalgic, leading to a rich setting of Shenandoah which is done so well as to catapult the piece to another level. Accessible to many ensembles technically, and worthy of many performances. Special.”