» Music for Contemporary Dance

Orchestral/Large Ensemble

Acqua (2018)

cello octet (plus contemporary dancers)
14 min. 30 sec.

Acqua was conceived as a work for eight cellos (with musicians to be seated in a circular configuration), in collaboration with a small group of dancers.  The music’s formal structure draws roughly from Indian classical music, with a slower introduction section, followed by a more rhythmic section—with rhythmic patterns inspired both by Indian classical music, as well as by the music of Mali.

The piece is tied to the various states of water, beginning with ice: transparent textures, simple yet elegant ornamentation, plenty of space to breathe—melting into ripples, and agile layers of rhythmic energy and activity.  Then, there is the plunge into the climactic section: “Water is the driving force of nature”, wrote Leonardo da Vinci.  Water truly is the source of life, too—without it, we would not exist.  It is both a subtle and an incredibly powerful force.  Finally, the piece transforms into rising “vapour” at the end of the work.  Acqua is an exploration of extremes: an ode to the gentle beauty and power of water.

Acqua was written for and premiered by members of Allegra Chamber Orchestra (directed by Janna Sailor), and premiered at Notional Space, Vancouver, on September 15th, 2018, with dancers (directed by choreographer Linda Arkelian).

Sheet music is available through the Canadian Music Centre:

(sheet music link to come soon)

 

Equinox (full orchestra) (2017)

full orchestra
7 min. 

Equinox refers to the time of year when the sun crosses the celestial equator; when days and nights are of equal length. For this work, I was thinking in particular of the autumnal equinox, when nature shifts from a lush green palette and long stretches of sunny days, to a more compressed, colourful existence with a briskness in the air, heralding the fall season.

This piece was originally composed for a Macedonian ensemble, Music Progressive Quartet, (Vladimir Lazarevski- oboe, Vladimir Krstev- violin, Marko Videnovic- viola, and Paskal Krapovski- cello), whom I had the pleasure to tour with, while visiting the Balkans in the summer of 2012. There are many references to Balkan rhythms, melody, and ornamentation in this music, though not in any traditional context. Equinox is a convergence of elements that creates the unique sense of vitality and shifting of balance inherent in the changing seasons.

Equinox (in its original quartet version) was written in 2013, and premiered on March 30th, 2014 (with Geronimo Mendoza- oboe, Mark Ferris- violin, Manti Poon- viola, and Sue Round- cello), at Pyatt Hall, Vancouver, Canada, at the closing night of the Sonic Boom Festival. The orchestral version of Equinox was created in 2017, at the request of Maestro Bujar Llapaj, for premiere by the West Coast Symphony Orchestra (of Vancouver, Canada), while on tour through the Balkans in March 2018.

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* Performance Note: Since this work was originally written for quartet (oboe, violin, viola, and cello), it features prominent solo parts for these instruments. The work can either be performed in concerto-style, with a quartet of soloists positioned in front of the orchestra, or it can be performed with the soloists in regular orchestral seating.

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Sheet music is available through the Canadian Music Centre:
http://musiccentre.ca/node/149971

Wind on the Downs (2017)

chamber orchestra (flute, clarinet, trumpet & strings), and female narrator
10 min. 15 sec.

Wind on the Downs was inspired by a poem of the same name by British writer, Marian Allen. The poem was written in May 1917, a few days after Allen heard the news that her fiancé, Arthur Tylston Greg, had been killed in an air battle over France. He was 22 years old.

You will hear a female narrator reading Allen’s poem, while the music leads the listener on a path through the various emotional stages of grieving a loved one.  The piece incorporates some melodic ideas based on military bugle calls, which will gently morph as the poet winds her way through the journey of making sense of her loss.  Although the poem is a very personal one, I believe it’s also universal—the challenge of moving through the loss of someone close, to eventually find some kind of renewed hope in life.

Wind on the Downs was commissioned by the Allegra Chamber Orchestra, and received its premiere at Mountain View Cemetery, Vancouver, Canada, on Remembrance Day (November 11th), 2017.

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“I like to think of you as brown and tall,
As strong and living as you used to be,
In khaki tunic, Sam Brown belt and all,
And standing there and laughing down at me.
Because they tell me, dear, that you are dead,
Because I can no longer see your face,
You have not died, it is not true, instead
You seek adventure in some other place.
That you are round about me, I believe;
I hear you laughing as you used to do,
Yet loving all the things I think of you;
And knowing you are happy, should I grieve?
You follow and are watchful where I go;
How should you leave me, having loved me so?

We walked along the towpath, you and I,
Beside the sluggish-moving, still canal;
It seemed impossible that you should die;
I think of you the same and always shall.
We thought of many things and spoke of few,
And life lay all uncertainly before,
And now I walk alone and think of you,
And wonder what new kingdoms you explore.
Over the railway line, across the grass,
While up above the golden wings are spread,
Flying, ever flying overhead,
Here still I see your khaki figure pass,
And when I leave the meadow, almost wait,
That you should open first the wooden gate.”

–Marian Allen (1892-1953)

 

Sheet music is available through the Canadian Music Centre:
http://musiccentre.ca/node/149448

 

Blueprint (2016)

jazz trio (tenor sax, trombone & double bass) and full orchestra
23 min. 30 sec.

“For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun? And what is to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered? Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing. And when you have reached the mountain top, then shall you begin to climb. And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.”
–Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931)

I’ve always thought of jazz as being the language of imagination and freedom— a conversational, fluid melding of ideas. This piece features a jazz trio (tenor saxophone, trombone, and double bass), set against the backdrop of an orchestra. The first movement of Blueprint opens with some precise, dancing Balkan rhythms, which set the tone and reveal the architecture of the work. The second movement begins as a slow meditation (taking its inspiration from the evocative quote by poet Kahlil Gibran, above), and builds toward a climax—“melting into the sun”—the idea of the release of the spirit from the body. The third movement mirrors the first movement in its exuberant rhythmic drive, and also draws a bit of inspiration for its raw melodic language from the delta blues. This was an incredibly fun piece to write, and I’d like to acknowledge with thanks the trio of musicians involved in the premiere: Brent Mah (tenor saxophone), Jim Hopson (trombone), and Graham Clark (double bass).

Blueprint received its premiere with the West Coast Symphony Orchestra, with Bujar Llapaj- conductor, on June 10th, 2016, at Christ Church Cathedral, Vancouver, BC, Canada.

 

Sheet music (and a complete archival recording) are available through the Canadian Music Centre:
http://www.musiccentre.ca/node/138929

 

Tides (2013)

full orchestra
9 min.

Tides was conceived after visiting Albania and Macedonia on tour, as a member of the West Coast Symphony Orchestra, in summer 2012. The rugged beauty and colourful spirit of the Balkans fascinated me. This piece grew out of contemplating the continuity of time, and also the idea of an ancient land, where tides (both literal and metaphorical) have been changing and shaping its unique character for centuries. Precise, dancing rhythms inspired by Balkan folk music permeate the piece, contrasted with a fluid sense of motion and freedom.

Premiered by Orkestra Simfonike e RTSH (Albanian Radio-Television Orchestra), Bujar Llapaj, conductor, at the Academy of Arts, Tirana, Albania, 21 March, 2013.

Sheet music is available through the Canadian Music Centre:

http://www.musiccentre.ca/node/71302

 

Tripod (2011)

chamber orchestra: tpt/hn/tbn; fl/ob/cl/bsn; perc (musicians to be vertically spatialized, on three different levels)

12 min. 30 sec.

Tripod was written to accompany the Vancouver Art Gallery’s Surrealist exhibit, “The Colour of My Dreams”. Just as the Surrealist movement set out to explore the unconscious mind (mind’s eye), I was imagining this work unfolding through the aperture (eye) of the camera. Several photographic/filmic devices were employed, including focus, pan, dissolve, solarization, and extreme close-up, as well as use of bold chords (creating the “positive” and “negative” of an image). Morse code also makes an appearance, spelling out the letters “Y” (why?), and “E-Y-E”. The musical saw adds an otherworldly vocal layer to the music.

 

Sheet music is available through the Canadian Music Centre:

http://www.musiccentre.ca/node/37862

 

Mount Pleasant Sketches (2010)

chamber orchestra (1202/2000/str)

8 min.

 

Sheet music is available through the Canadian Music Centre:

http://www.musiccentre.ca/node/35433

Mosaic (2010)

solo horn and full orchestra

26 min.

Mosaic was inspired by the idea of creating a dreamscape, with the solo horn as the central character: the one experiencing the dream. I was interested in exploring the idea of dreaming as a means of processing ideas and information, but at the same time, being aware that dreaming is not a process over which we have the same degree of control as we do over our conscious thoughts. Just as real-life information and experiences are filtered and transformed through the dreaming process, several motivic ideas recur and are transformed throughout the various movements. The piece is structured in five movements (attacca), beginning with the lower strings emulating the slow breathing of one falling asleep. The second movement is bright, with melodic reference to a pelog gamelan scale. The third movement begins with a duet between solo horn and solo cello, expanding outwards from the first three notes of Brahms’ famous Lullaby, and evolving into something much more intense at the climax of the piece. The fourth movement is a cadenza for the solo horn, leading into the fifth movement, which contains reference to an out-of-body experience.

 

 

Orchestra score and parts are available for rental through the Canadian Music Centre:
http://www.musiccentre.ca/node/34754

Arrangement for horn and piano is available through the International Horn Society:
www.hornsociety.org/marketplace/onl…ry=0&id=6957407


 

Triptych (2009)

string octet (4 violins 2 violas, 2 celli)

17 min. 30 sec.

I. Frontispiece/The Garden
II. Earthly Delights
III. Hell

Triptych was inspired by one of the most well-known paintings ever made in that genre: The Garden of Earthly Delights, by Flemish master, Hieronymus Bosch (c.1450-1516). The three movements of the piece correspond to the three panels of the painting (plus frontispiece). The piece evolves from the austere, uncertain beginnings of the world (Frontispiece), into the peaceful, but strange surroundings of the Garden. The middle movement is playful, sensual, and earthy (Earthly Delights); the last is relentless, mocking, and grotesque (Hell).

There is so much colour, symbolism and detail present in the painting; the music is simply a distillation of these ideas. The piece, like the painting, follows a sense of predestined trajectory. The opening material of the piece becomes a recurring motive throughout all three movements: from the very beginning, there is a sense of inevitability about where things are going.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sheet music is available through the Canadian Music Centre:

http://www.musiccentre.ca/node/32734

Black Tusk Overture (2008)

brass band

7 min. 30 sec.