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Tuolumne Songs


Bill Horvitz
Solo Acoustic Guitar

Marblecone Music 012

Audio Samples

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Press Reviews


Between 1997 and 2004 I had the truly good fortune of being invited to play solo acoustic guitar at the annual Tuolumne Meadows Poetry Festival in Yosemite National Park. This intimate and exquisite festival of spoken word and music takes place during the third weekend of August and is a National Park Service event. Each year there are three poets who read for two afternoons. The pieces on this CD are ones I composed specifically to go before each poet's reading. For this festival I annually wrote six or seven such works -- short and succinct, in many ways much like poems. My goal was to evoke a mood, to create an opening in which images might appear, linger and move on.


I loved performing at Tuolumne. People of all ages come to the high Sierra to camp and hike and sit around the fire, and in mid-afternoon walk the path to Parson's Lodge, an historic stone building rising from the meadow.

They arrive in small groups and alone, with daypacks and writing pads, step inside and listen with a hungry intensity and rapt attention. Many of them return year after year. I couldn't ask for more.

Being invited to compose and perform these pieces provided a wonderful opportunity for me to focus on acoustic guitar. While I have always played acoustic and loved it, most of my performing and recording through the years has been on electric. More recently, largely because of these commissions, I've been able to give acoustic guitar playing the attention that I desire and that it deserves.

I'm often complimented on my ability to capture in these pieces a sense of the high Sierra. I'm forced to admit in these moments that I don't actually set out with this goal in mind. When I'm composing I'm playing with sound, sifting through possibilities, mucking around. Notes, textures, patterns, chords and melodies appear, disappear, come together, fall apart, and eventually become something complete. It is when I give titles to the pieces that I consider how they relate to place. Perhaps the connection comes from time spent in these mountains, a gift I treasure and wish to share in these songs.

Tracks and Audio Samples:

Please click on a link below for either RealAudio or mp3 formats.
You can download a free RealAudio player here.

1. Say You Will 4:33

2. Teeter Totter 3:35

3. Everywhere You Look 3:02

4. When Eric Dolphy Opened My Eyes 4:10     56k    DSL/Cable   mp3

5. Rain On Mt. Dana 5:18     56k    DSL/Cable   mp3

6. Meadow Saunter 3:27

7. Scavenger Hunt 3:55

8. Switchback 3:47     56k    DSL/Cable   mp3

9. The Stillness of Rock 3:20

10. Lightning ‘Round Langley 3:48     56k    DSL/Cable   mp3

11. Roll It 3:45

12. New Days 4:26     56k    DSL/Cable   mp3

13. This Time of Year (for Mom) 3:50

all compositions Bill Horvitz



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Press Review

Bill Horvitz, Tuolumne Songs
By Celine Keating
Acoustic Guitar Magazine, May 2005

The beauty of Tuolumne Songs steals slowly over the soul, perhaps the way the early morning sun creeps over the Yosemite mountains to bathe Tuolumne Meadows in light. Bill Horvitz cites that landscape—where he has performed for many years at the Tuolumne Poetry Festival—as the inspiration for these original solo guitar compositions, and for the gorgeous cover art as well. A northern California composer and guitarist, Horvitz most often plays electric guitar, frequently in avant-garde jazz settings. But on acoustic, his tone is as pure and clear as a mountain-fed spring. The pieces have the deceptive simplicity and immediacy of momentary meditations, their sophistication becoming apparent only with repeated listening. While there are traces of blues and even boogie-woogie, most of the pieces, like the haunting “This Time of Year” and “When Eric Dolphy Opened My Eyes,” are abstract and ephemeral. The striking “Rain on Mt. Dana” and “The Stillness of Rock” capture the serenity and austere poetry of the natural world that can be expressed on solo acoustic guitar. (Marblecone 012)