Orchestral

My orchestral writing began in student years with PLANES, a serial piece sonically representing abstract mathematical concepts, which was premiered 13 years later by the Winnipeg Symphony and Kazuhiro Koizumi. My next piece was very different: a concerto for button accordion and orchestra called DANCING ON WINGS OF FIRE, inspired by a Balinese cremation ceremony and African/North American pop music. I wrote it for myself as soloist, and have performed it with several orchestras, including the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (who commissioned it in 1990) and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra. These have been some of the high points in my musical life.

TEMPLE STEPS was also written for the WSO. It’s a piece whose architecture mixes Balinese temple structure with Bolognese arcades; it also refers to American soul music. PILGRIMAGE for the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra relates very much to the Prairies: Alberta (where I lived in 1979), Manitoba (where I live now) and its Boreal forest, and the subtle lands of Saskatchewan in between. RHYTHM OF SPRING (for the WSO) incorporates my continuing interest in natural processes and the proportions of the Fibonacci Series. I’ve also written several string-based chamber orchestra pieces for the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra and the Brandon Chamber Players: THE RESTLESS WIND, DANCING WAVES, and CONCERTO FOR CELLO AND STRING ORCHESTRA (written for soloist Paul Marleyn). These three are among my most ‘local’ pieces, each inspired by a different aspect of the climate, geography, and emotional landscape of southern Manitoba.

From 2005 is NORTH WIND, which I wrote for dizi (Chinese bamboo flute) virtuoso Xiao-Nan Wang and the WSO and Andrey Boreyko. Xiao-Nan moved to Winnipeg from China in the early 90s, and has modified his traditionally-diatonic instrument to play chromatically. The “North Wind” is a cataclysmic event, whose diminishing echoes return throughout the piece to challenge the soloist.

2007 saw two premieres. The first was BEATING HEART, a double concerto for violin and button accordion based on Irish traditional music, with movements “Invocation”, “Lament”, “March” and “Reels”. I wrote it for Atis Bankas and the Niagara International Chamber Music Festival. Niagara-on-the-Lake is also an ancestral home for my family, as my father’s ancestors moved here in 1815; in fact, the premiere took place in St. Mark’s Church, where several family members from the early- and mid-1800s are laid to rest. The other premiere was MANIMASII AURA for button accordion and chamber ensemble, written for Inuit accordion virtuoso Simeonie Keenainak and the CBC Orchestra with Alain Trudel. It’s based on a traditional Inuit square dance tune, played many times over, as it would be in a real square dance in Nunavut. The orchestra part contains the “aura”– psychological, emotional and spiritual references to the land, animals, the aurora borealis, and the spirit of the performer and the music (as conveyed so well by Simeonie!).

In 2008 WOLF DREAMS (with Kolomayka) was premiered by a 14-piece ensemble conducted by Alain Trudel, in the GroundSwell Series. This piece is inspired by memories from childhood of my Grandmother’s stories of wolves in the Carpathian mountains in Ukraine. It touches on both the noble, mystical, wild image we often have of wolves as well as the darker, vicious, predatory side.

In 2009, two orchestral/large ensemble pieces:  I SPOKE TO NO ONE, for large mixed ensemble, was inspired by passages from James Joyce’s Ulysses, particularly Stephen Daedalus’ walk on the beach; and THE SONG OF THE STARS for soprano, guitar, and strings, based on an anonymous poem by the Passamaquoddy people, whose lands are in New Brunswick.

Then two pieces written as part of a Major Arts Grant from the Manitoba Arts Council (for work in 2010/11).  These were CANTU for orchestra, inspired by visits to Corsica and participation in a Corsican Polyphonic Chant group, and premiered by the WSO; and FAR HEAVENS for chromatic dizi (the traditional chinese transverse flute, but transformed into a chromatic instrument by Winnipeg’s Xiao Nan Wang) and string orchestra.  Xiao Nan Wang premiered it with the MCO and Judith Yan.

 

List of orchestral works

FAR HEAVENS for chromatic dizi and string orchestra (2011) premiered by Xiao Nan Wang and the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, cond. Judith Yan; Jan. 8/14, at Westminster United Church, Wpg. Written as part of a Major Arts Grant from the Manitoba Arts Council.

CANTU for orchestra (2011) premiered by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, cond. Alexander Mickelthwate; Jan. 29/13, at the Centennial Concert Hall, Winnipeg.  Written as part of a Major Arts Grant from the Manitoba Arts Council.

I SPOKE TO NO ONE (1100 alto saxophone 0100 guitar piano strings [11101]) (2009). Premiere by GroundSwell Chamber Ensemble, cond. Earl Stafford; May 12, 2009; at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

THE SONG OF THE STARS (soprano solo, string orchestra, and guitar– also playable with soprano, string quintet and guitar) (2009). Written for Maria-Luz Alvarez and the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra with a grant from the Manitoba Arts Council. Premiere by Maria-Luz Alvarez, members of the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra and Rodrigo Muñoz, guitar, May 19, 2009; at R.D. Parker Letkemann Theatre, Thompson, Manitoba. Premiere of the chamber orchestra version given by Maria-Luz Alvarez, Rodrigo Muñoz, and the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Scott Yoo, on February 16, 2010, Westminster United Church, Winnipeg.

WOLF DREAMS (WITH KOLOMAYKA) (1111 1110 1P strings [11111]) (2008). Written with a grant from the Manitoba Arts Council. Premiered May 20/08 by an ensemble conducted by Alain Trudel; GroundSwell Series, Westminster United Church, Winnipeg.

MANIMASII AURA for solo button accordion [A/D] and chamber ensemble (1111 1100 strings
1-1-1-1-1; solo button accordion) (2007).  Premiered Sept. 15, 2007 by Simeonie Keenainak and the CBC Radio Orchestra, cond. Alain Trudel; at the CBC True North Concert, Anglican Parish Hall, Iqaluit.  Commissioned by the CBC.

BEATING HEART for solo violin, solo button accordion [G/C] and chamber orchestra (1111 1000 1 [bodhran] strings; solo violin, solo button accordion) (2007) Commissioned by the Niagara International Chamber Music Festival with a grant from the Manitoba Arts Council. Premiered July 23, 2007 by Atis Bankas, Jim Hiscott and the Orchestra of St. Mark’s, cond. Daniel Swift; St. Mark’s Anglican Church, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.  Also exists in version without winds: (0000 0000 1 (Bodhran) strings; solo violin, solo button accordion).

NORTH WIND (2*22*2 4231 T1 H strings; solo dizi [Chinese bamboo flute] in C [bottom note G]) (2005). Commissioned by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra with the assistance of the Manitoba Arts Council. Premiered Feb. 11, 2006 by Xiao-Nan Wang, dizi, with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra cond. Andrey Boreyko; Centennial Concert Hall, Winnipeg, Manitoba.

CONCERTO FOR CELLO AND STRING ORCHESTRA (2003). Commissioned by the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra with the assistance of the Manitoba Arts Council. Premiered Oct. 8/ 03 by Paul Marleyn and the MCO, cond. Roy Goodman; Westminster United Church, Winnipeg.

NIGHT STREETS for jazz big band (5 saxes, 4 trumpets, 4 trombones, guitar, piano, bass, drums, percussion) (2003). Premiered March 29, 2003 by the Ron Paley Big Band, cond. Ron Paley; Centre Culturel Franco-Manitobain, St. Boniface, Manitoba.

DANCING WAVES for string orchestra (2002). Commissioned by the Brandon Chamber Players with the assistance of the Manitoba Arts Council. Premiered Oct. 17 and 18/02 by the Brandon Chamber Players, cond. T. Patrick Carrabré, in Killarney and Brandon, Manitoba, resp.

TROPICS for orchestra (222*2 4231 T3 H strings) (2001). Commissioned by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. Premiered Jan. 30/04 by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, cond. Michelle Mourre; Centennial Concert Hall, Winnipeg.

RHYTHM OF SPRING for orchestra (2*22*2 4231 2H strings) (2001). Commissioned by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra with the assistance of the Manitoba Arts Council. Premiered Feb. 5/02 by the WSO, cond. Andrey Boreyko, at the Centennial Concert Hall, Winnipeg as part of the Centara Corp. WSO New Music Festival.

PILGRIMAGE for orchestra (2*2*2*2 4231 2H strings) (2000). Commissioned by the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra with the assistance of the Canada Council for the Arts. Premiered Feb. 6/01 by the ESO, conducted by Grzegorz Nowak, at the Winspear Centre, Edmonton.

THE RESTLESS WIND for chamber orchestra (1111 0000 strings) (1999). Commissioned by the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra with the assistance of the Manitoba Arts Council. Premiered Oct. 5/99 by the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Simon Streatfeild, at Westminster United Church, Winnipeg.

SURGE for wind band (223*1 4221, Euphonium, 3 Saxes (Alt,Ten,Bari), 4 perc., contrabass) (1998). Commissioned by Jeff Kula and the John Henderson Jr. High Wind Ensemble with the assistance of the Manitoba Arts Council. Version for (203*0 4221, Euphonium, 3 Saxes (Alt, Ten, Bari), 4 perc., contrabass) also available. Premiered Feb. 19/99 by the River East Collegiate Wind Ensemble, conducted by Jeff Kula, at the Winnipeg Convention Centre, Winnipeg.

TEMPLE STEPS (2222 4231 1H strings) (1995)
Commissioned by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra with the assistance of the Manitoba Arts Council. Premiered by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Glenn Buhr, Jan. 23/96, at the Centennial Concert Hall, Winnipeg, as part of the WSO’s duMaurier Arts Ltd. New Music Festival.

DANCING ON WINGS OF FIRE (1111 1110 1 strings, solo button accordion [A/D]) (1991)
Commissioned by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra with the assistance of the Manitoba Arts Council. Premiered by Jim Hiscott, button accordion, with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra conducted by Bramwell Tovey, Jan. 23/92, Winnipeg.

LIMITATION (strings 3-3-4-2-0) (1975)

MOSS GROWING ON RUINS (112*1 4000 1 strings 1-1-1-2-0) (1974)

PLANES (2*22*2* 4231 T2 strings) (1973)
Premiered by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Kazuhiro Koizumi, Oct. 18/86, Winnipeg.

FOUR PIECES FOR STRING ORCHESTRA (minimum 4-3-2-2-1) (1972)