In 1979, Collage presented my trio, The Mad Frog, for oboe, bass-clarinet, and harp, in a concert to favorable public and critical response. Collage then requested that I write a new work to be premiered in its '83-'84 season. I thought it would be neat to write a sequel to the Frog..., hence, the work, Hylidae...The Tree Frogs; also a trio, but this time for violin, piano, and double bass. Much of the inspiration for this new work came from a passage in Mary C. Dickerson's book, The Frog Book:
The explosive note of the Green Ford proceeds from the shallow water; the purring trill of the 'Tree Toad' comes from some spot impossible to locate. But listen. The toad's lullaby note comes from the far margin, sweeter than all the others if we except the two notes in the chickadee's spring call. We could never have believed it to be the voice of a toad if we had not seen and heard one that first May day. The sustained note is not only high-pitched and tremulous; it seems to have a dual character, as though a low note were droned at the same time a high one was whistled.
Hylidae...The Tree Frogs was commissioned by Collage for violinist Joel Smirnoff and bassist Edwin Barker with funds from a grant by the National Endowment for the Arts. It won the 1984 Double Bass Composition Contest sponsored by the International Society of Bassists.
--Thomas Oboe Lee