Look at the Pasquotank River in the early morning as the sun dances off the water, or perhaps the Perquimans River at dusk, and you might understand composer Charles Jones' inspiration for his piece “The Albemarle Suite.”
It is a set of musical pieces that honors Jones’s adopted home, focusing on Perquimans, Chowan, Pasquotank, Camden and Currituck Counties. Jones and the Albemarle Chamber Orchestra will perform this music Sept. 16, 4 p.m. at the Museum of the Albemarle, as part of a tribute to Sen. Melvin Daniels and the work he did sponsoring legislation which funds the operation of the museum.
For Jones’s part, the performance of this music is a musical love letter to this place he calls home. Like the sparkling waters of the Pasquotank River, or the orange glow upon the Perquimans at sunset, his music brings alive the natural beauty of this region, but for the ears and the mind’s eye.
“There is something distinctive to each of the five counties,” Jones says of his compositions.
For Pasquotank, he has created a waltz; for Perquimans he has created a lullaby; for Chowan he has created a chorale; for Currituck, a rondo; and for Camden a galop.
“Each county resonates with a style of music,” says Jones of his inspiration for “The Albemarle Suite.”
The Albemarle Chamber Orchestra is a group of string musicians who have played together for some time now. They consist of Jones on the viola, his wife Nancy Jones on the violin — “She is a very fine violinist.” — Lance Isakson on the cello, Bobbi Hunsberger on the violin, Kurt Hunsberger on the bass and Hilary Hunsberger on the cello.
As for the five forms of music, each one was chosen to reflect Jones’s view of the character of each county.
Pasquotank County’s waltz is a minuet. A faster pace of music, this form of a waltz’s origins is found as a social dance in France.
Perquimans County is a lullaby. A soothing composition, many people are familiar with “Brahms’s Lullaby.”
For Chowan, Jones created a chorale. A chorale is a melody accompanying a hymn sung by a church congregation. Jones simply describes this as a “choral sounding piece.”
Camden is a galop. The galop is a faster paced piece associated with dancing.
And for Currituck, Jones created a rondo. A rondo is “round,” and possesses a main theme of music that is returned to after subsequent themes are played throughout the piece of music.
The suite may be familiar to some in the area who have followed Jones and the chamber orchestra. It is something that the composer began years ago when he first came to the area.
“When I do get to a new area such as this one, my goodness there is the s-bridge, and I have to do something about the s-bridge,” Jones explained. “And I found out the oldest brick home in the state is here and one of the greatest pitchers of all time lived here; there is another.”
Jones actually moved here with his wife Nancy after they retired from teaching. Jones was a public school music teacher in Burlington when he met his wife.
Since moving to the area they began teaching string instruments in a studio in their home. They also launched the Albemarle Youth Orchestra.
The Sept. 16 performance will be held at Museum of the Albemarle in the Gaither Auditorium. Tickets are $20 or $10 for children. For tickets and more information, call the museum at 252-335-1453.