Large Chamber Works

Solid Gold
soprano + 1 1 1 1 / 1 1 1 / pf perc / str [15′] 2013.

Commissioner: Orchestra Wellington
Funder: Creative New Zealand
Premiere: soprano Madeleine Pierard with Orchestra Wellington and conductor Marc Taddei, The Opera House, Wellington, September 8, 2013.
Program note:

Solid Gold riffs on mainstream culture’s obsession with the Number One Hit. Challenging the straitjacket of copyright law, I take as my starting point the titles of over 30 years of number one pop songs. Cracking open this shared archive of pop memory, I hope to unearth the heart of the love song. Collaging selected titles into new and original lyrics, my creative quest echoes the sentiment of British-American band Foreigner’s 1984 hit “I want to to know what love is”. In this maelstrom of romantic yearning, what does love mean? And who exactly is the singer? Is (s)he “Venus, Jezebel, Lady Madonna — Lola, Nikita, Sylvia’s Mother”? Or is gender itself in question? Fernando? Pinnochio? Nelson Mandela?

bcl/bsax, egtr, pf, perc, vn, db [9′] 2010.

Commissioner: CONTACT Contemporary Music & The Six Team League Project.
Funder: Ontario Arts Council
Premiere: CONTACT, ECM/Bradyworks, St. Crispin’s Ensemble, Motion Ensemble, Negative Zed, Toronto, Montréal, Edmonton, Fredericton, Vancouver, May 15, 2010.
Program note:

Bout is inspired by the sport of women’s boxing. In an interview with Canadian boxing pioneer Savoy “Kapow” Howe, I was struck by her detailed demonstration of the inner monologue of a fighter. Melodic and rhythmic material from her words insinuate themselves into the piece, along with referee’s whistles, counts and bells, training routines and the dogged persistence of the fighter.

Bout: A round at fighting; a contest, match, trial of strength, physical or intellectual.

drift, drop
fl, cl, ob, bsn, tpt, trb, 2 perc, pno, vc + db [16′] 2006.

Commissioner: New Music Concerts
Funder: Ontario Arts Council
Premiere: New Music Concerts with soloists Robert Aitken (flutes) and James Avery (piano)

Program note:

drift, drop grew out of the folksong Down by Sally’s Garden as sung by Leo Spenser in Lakefield, Ontario in 1957. I don’t think I’ve ever been to Lakefield, and I certainly wasn’t there in 1957, but I have a small distintegrating volume of Canadian folksongs on the top of my piano. A lot of rambling and roving takes place in this song, and I kept finding myself singing it as I rode my bike through Toronto’s laneways. This song, which long ago drifted over from Ireland, guided me through the labyrinth of composing.

Drift — to float along, to deviate; something driven.
Drop — to fall, to collapse; a precipitous shift.