You may wonder why I've titled this post "Blackberry Winter" when the video below starts off with Chopin.
Well, it allows me to kill two birds with one stone; first, I want to introduce Benjamin Zander to you in case he is new to you. Benjamin's most enjoyable TED talk on the transformative power of classical music is my lead-in to tell readers who are new to David Schnaufer that yes, David's musical tastes ran through just about every musical genre from traditional music to rock, jazz, lullabies, Tex-Mex, and even classical music. When David got to Nashville, almost no one had heard of a mountain dulcimer, and those who did had a very narrow perspective on it. Some disdained it as a primitive instrument with no place in professional settings; others thought of it as a rhythm instrument to accompany a singer at home on a cabin front porch; still others had heard of it but knew nothing of its own rich history or potential that David knew by then. It was his determination to put the dulcimer front and center in the country music world that drew him to Nashville. And, similar to Maestro Zander's mission, he was determined to get people to listen, understand and be moved by dulcimer music. The seeds David planted through that determination are still sprouting all across the country and around the world.
One of the the more unexpected performances involving the dulcimer came about in 1996 when David was approached by the Nashville Chamber Orchestra to develop a first for the classical music world: a concerto for dulcimer and strings which David titled "Blackberry Winter". David, the dulcimer and the Tennessee Music box were to be featured front and center within the three movements; other pieces in the program were the more traditional classical music pieces. This evening would be the culmination of the Blair School of Music's then dean Mark Wait's vision for his faculty to cross musical boundaries in order to create something new.
You can read the backstory of "Blackberry Blossom" and the unexpected events that surrounded it in Pluck, so I won't delve into those stories here. But I hope you enjoy Zander's perspective on classical music as much as I did, and look for the shared philosophy and approach with David's own philosophy and vision of spreading dulcimer music far and wide via music.
After watching Zander, enjoy Stephen Seifert performing the first movement of "Blackberry Winter"'. Movements Two and Three are also available on the same channel.
When Loretta Lynn passed away recently, I was struck by a quote attributed to her I read as to how one ensures success in the music business: You either have to be the first, the best or different. "Blackberry Blossom" certainly fits all three as did David when he officially became a Nashville player in 1984.