Folk music in overdrive–that is how the happy marriage of Scottish/Irish folk music with ragtime and blues known as bluegrass has been described. And it is in a remote corner of the world, Appalachia–named after the mountain range in the south-western United States, that this folk music tradition sprung up which has inspired country, folk, gospel and blues musicians. It also tickled Giel Vleggaar’s fancy when thinking about a new piece for the Nieuw Ensemble, a group whose focus on string instruments would lend itself very well to sounds as yet little known in the Netherlands. Vleggaar was very curious what might happen when the incredible virtuosity of bluegrass performance were mixed with bebop and contemporary classical music playing techniques. The star of the piece is the steelstring guitar, helped out now and again by a side-kick mandolin, both most definitely in overdrive, on a rollicking ride through an extraordinary urban landscape.
Appalachia was awarded the Henriette Bosmans Prize in 2007.