Early summer is a time of long days on the family farm, perfect for nurturing crops and animals as they approach the peak of growing season. "Growing" illuminates the daily work of farming through the parents and children in each farm family. It also reveals the distinctive challenges and joys of raising a family — and growing up — in farm country.
"Farming is vital to our state's economy," says General Manager Kim Grehn"and American farming is an essential part of the global economy. That's why I'm proud to bring this series to our audience. 'Five Farms' shares the stories of five farm families who love their land and take pride in their life's work. For them, the farm creates a livelihood filled with big risks but even bigger rewards, all of which is expertly documented in these programs. Our listeners will both learn from and be moved by 'Five Farms.'"
Most Americans know little about where their food comes from and even less about the lives of farming families who plant, water, feed, herd, harvest and deliver that food to market. "Five Farms: Stories From American Farm Families" confronts that information gap head on. This series of five one-hour documentaries uses first-person storytelling to personalize the lives and work of five farm families in New England, the South, the Midwest, the Southwest and West Coast. By tracking these families for a full year-long cycle of the seasons, "Five Farms" reveals the resiliency of the American farmer and documents what they do to help feed the nation, while being caretakers and conservationists of the lands and resources they use.
"Five Farms" is made possible in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and is distributed nationally by Public Radio International. Production of "Five Farms" is an unusual collaboration among stations located in regions across the country where farming is a way of life. Collaborators include WFCR Amherst in western Massachusetts; WBHM Birmingham, Ala.; Iowa Public Radio; Native Public Media / National Federation of Community Broadcasters / Hopi Foundation, Kykotsmovi, Ariz.; and Capital Public Radio, Sacramento.
A public radio employee's inquiry to Executive Producer Wesley Horner about the "Five Farms" theme music resulted in a surprising response.
Wes — The marimba/viola/piano piece that you use on the "Five Farms" sampler video is haunting. What is it? Can you send me information about the composer and performers?
Roger — You've found me out. The uncredited composer is me.
I started life in public radio volunteering at WGBH in Boston while a composition major — and viola minor (thus, the prominent role of the oft-maligned and overlooked viola in the music for "Five Farms") — at New England Conservatory of Music. I produced a show then with the not very creative, but straightforward, title "The Composer Show." My first paying gig at 'GBH was on the overnight shift, trying to stay awake from Saturday night until dawn Sunday morning. One could say that public radio saved me from certain oblivion, teaching music theory somewhere.
My "real" music, trust me, is a far cry from the "Farms" theme music: My fellow college students and I competed hard, it seemed, to make our 12-tone, serialized really-wild-and-out-there music as difficult as we could. If one was lucky, it was also beautiful. My ever-patient mentor was the brilliant composer Donald Martino.
I haven't written anything for a very long time. But our "Five Farms" series producer, John Biewen, persuaded me to dust off my manuscript paper and give composing the theme a shot. A week of scribbling and lot of used erasers later, and we had music. It was a lot of fun to create that.
Part of the theory was that if I "commissioned" original music from myself (I worked cheap), we'd neatly sidestep unpleasant budget and rights issues. Seemed like a good idea.
To record, I drafted two undergraduate students from my alma mater, Kalindi Bellach (viola) and Yi Wei (marimba and claves). I played the piano parts myself. We spent an evening recording at the huge and gorgeous new WGBH studios. Antonio Oliart-Ros, former principal flutist with the Mexico City Philharmonic, was the recording engineer and co-producer for the session. And there you have it. Now all we need are lyrics.
Thanks for the high compliments!