John Jacob Niles' I Wonder As I Wander, arranged for Orchestra.
This Christian folk hymn was inspired by a song heard by Niles at a fundraising meeting for evangelicals which he attended in Murphy, North Carolina. Niles wrote of the moment he first heard the tune:
'A girl had stepped out to the edge of the little platform attached to the automobile. She began to sing. Her clothes were unbelievable dirty and ragged, and she, too, was unwashed. Her ash-blond hair hung down in long skeins.... But, best of all, she was beautiful, and in her untutored way, she could sing. She smiled as she sang, smiled rather sadly, and sang only a single line of a song".
Niles requested that the girl repeat the fragment seven times, paying her a quarter per performance, and left with 'three lines of verse, a garbled fragment of melodic material—and a magnificent idea'. He completed his composition on October 4, 1933 and I Wonder As I Wander was first performed on December 19, 1933, at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, North Carolina.
This melodic arrangement by Michael Brown offers an opportunity for every group of instruments to shine, making it an excellent choice for school concerts or showcases.