My Mother, who was my then-piano-teacher, selected ”Fireflies” (composed by Oscar L. Fernandez, (1897-1948)) as my National Federation of Music Clubs “Festival” piece for 1962 which would have been my 7th-grade year. The piece was fiendishly difficult for me at the time (because I started 3rd grade at 6, I would have been 10-11, in the 7th grade) and had a difficulty-rating of “Very Difficult II.” The constantly-changing meters and unusual gait made it seem all that much more “strange” to me.

Fireflies mixed-media collage by the author

Fireflies mixed-media collage by the author

I well-remember playing for the competition: “Festival,” it is called. Actually, I remember having extra time immediately before the competition in Florence, Alabama (USA) that day (at what was then Florence Teacher’s College; now, the University of North Alabama). Having an hour, or so available before performing, I searched for somewhere I could practice “a little more.” Fortunately, I found an empty practice room in the nearby basement of the college music building. There were unusual acoustics in that basement practice room; there was an unusual amount of reverberation that gave me an entirely different perspective of the piece. After my practice session, I performed “Fireflies,” and received a “Superior” rating. Funny, I no longer remember what was the other piece that I played that day.

Later that year, I selected “Fireflies” along with a left-handed arrangement of Londonderry Air as my program for entry into the school talent show. This particular memory is how I definitely know that this was my 7th-grade year. For my talent-show routine I came on-stage with my right arm in a sling and said that I had hurt my arm but would attempt to play “Londonderry Air” with my left hand only. Of course, it had been arranged for left-hand, but the audience didn’t know that. I garnered some sympathy, I’m sure. After that, I said that there was no way that I could play “Fireflies” with one hand and that I would remove my sling and attempt to play it. I did. And, I won the talent contest that year. The next year I entered again but didn’t even make the first cut…

In my recording of the piece, I have added a little more reverberation than I normally include — to simulate the “extra” echo that helped me to finally comprehend this piece in that basement practice room, minutes before my festival performance — so long ago.

I hope you enjoy listening.

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