» Orchestral/Large Ensemble

Orchestral/Large Ensemble (2003-2016)

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.

 

À travers la mer (2006)

full orchestra

16 min.

À travers la mer is based loosely on the idea of an ocean voyage — Jacques Cartier’s first of three trips from France to New France (Québec), in 1534. He was not the first European to arrive in the eastern parts of Canada. However, Cartier ventured into the Gulf of St. Lawrence, which was still uncharted territory, and the voyage would have been extremely dangerous, and exciting, to say the least.

With no accurate maps to guide them, and no means of accurately measuring longitude (this did not exist until over 100 years later), the travelers must have been reliant on the heavens, and intuition, to guide them. I did not want to make this piece especially programmatic, but rather, I was interested in the various conflicting emotions that may have been in the air: excitement, memory/nostalgia, trepidation, and not least, the beauty and terror that the ocean must have inspired. The ocean and the stars are present in various shifting layers, as are fragments of a folk melody from Basse-Bretagne.

Read by the Victoria Symphony Orchestra (conducted by Tania Miller), at the Victoria Conservatory of Music, 2 February, 2007. Also read by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, as part of Jean Coulthard Reading Sessions, (conducted by Bramwell Tovey), at the Orpheum Theatre, Vancouver, 19 April, 2007.

Sheet music is available through the Canadian Music Centre:

http://www.musiccentre.ca/node/34801

 

Foliage (2006)

11-piece chamber orchestra

9 min.

I have always been fascinated by architecture. Not just the architecture of buildings, but also that of nature. One of the most interesting aspects of the natural landscape is foliage, and its ability to transform completely over the course of the year. This piece was devised as a miniature set of variations, and it is like foliage in that it evolves from relatively simple material into something more complex, making use of variations in shape, texture, density and color as means of growth.

 

Sheet music is available through the Canadian Music Centre:

http://www.musiccentre.ca/node/132848

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The Gnarled Root (2003)

full orchestra

8 min.

(revised 2007)

Think of a forest: not quite like the ones familiar here on the West Coast (BC, Canada), but perhaps something a little more surreal and enchanted.  This forest is home to the most beautiful as well as the most primitive forms of life, and much as we would like to believe that we’ve conquered our fears of the unknown, a solitary walk off the beaten path, at night, could easily prove us wrong…

This piece is an exploration of both the luminous and the darker colors of the orchestra– but is it possible that what lurks in the darkness here will reveal some of its secrets? Or will they remain intangible, dreamlike, locked beneath a grid of gnarled roots– an enigma?

 

 

 

Sheet music is available through the Canadian Music Centre:

http://www.musiccentre.ca/node/33342