Texas fiddler Ross Holmes has been playing around the edges of bluegrass music for his whole career. Grassers first noticed his highly-technical playing with Cadillac Sky after he made the move to Nashville. When that group dissolved, Holmes found work touring with pop acts Mumford & Sons and Bruce Hornsby, and now performs as a member of the iconic Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.
His current passion is a large-scale composition for fiddle and orchestra titled American Fiddle Suite, which he is completing with Aaron Malone. Running to 13 movements, the concept behind the piece is to merge the playing styles of traditional fiddle music with contemporary orchestration. Their goal is to follow on the success that modern composers/players like Mark O’Connor have seen with this type of sound, which attracts followers of both classical and folk music, with influences from modern classicists like Charles Ives, George Gershwin, and Aaron Copeland.
This Friday, he will release the opening movement, simply titled Overture, which he recorded as a lark at the end of a scheduled session at Oceanway Studios in Nashville on June 10. What was intended merely as a first capture of the 15 minute solo violin piece which Ross had composed, but not written down, turned into a perfect take that he feels is strong enough to release to the market.
He said it really happened by chance.
“My engineer, Austin Atwood, said we had enough time to attempt one pass of Overture. I was hoping for a reference recording, but the gods smiled. The entire experience was surreal.
You can get a taste of the movement in this static video, where you’ll hear how Holmes uses techniques and mannerisms common to the fiddle to perform thematic music suited to classical composition.
Ross has high hopes for this new music.
“Overture is the recording I’m most proud of. My heart and sincerity are reflected in this piece, with hope for inclusivity and acceptance of all people as I hear it spoken through melody. The world is upside right now and we’ve all turned to the arts for escape and inspiration. This is my offering.”
Overture will be available wherever you stream or download music online on July 10.