A Nightingale's Rhapsody

Sound Advice with host Rick Phillips, 11/17/2007, 12:05 p.m.

“…..The disc that’s just out, The Nightingale’s Rhapsody, is a collection of five new compositions by four Canadian composers for clarinet and strings, all world premiere recordings. Jerome Summers commissioned them all and specified that he was hoping for works with lyrical, rhapsodic and dramatic traits, and he managed to come up with five golden new works that fit that bill to add to the clarinet repertoire. All the new works are solid, but I especially like the two by Ronald Royer, a Canadian composer with some experience in the film and TV industry in Los Angeles……

This is a winner on just about all accounts. The five newly commissioned Canadian works, all in their world premiere recordings here are beautiful. If any one ever tells you that Canadian composers can’t measure up internationally, or that new classical compositions are irrelevant in today’s society, they are wrong. On this new disc, the composers are Ronald Royer, Oliver Whitehead, Michael Conway Baker and Dale Reubart. Each one has a different background, musical style, and effect, but all the composers fulfill the stipulation given them—to write works that had lyrical, rhapsodic and dramatic qualities for clarinet and strings. Sometimes film scores come to mind, sometimes jazz is an influence, sometimes landscapes or particular nationalities are recalled, but regardless all the music is well-crafted and highly effective. Jerome Summers is a solid clarinetist, musical and expressive with a rich low register and the recorded sound is demonstration quality, clean, clear and warm……”


Travels with Mozart for Chamber Orchestra
Joensuu City Orchestra (Finland) Piquant Opening of the Autumn Season for the Orchestra

The first piece of the concert, composed by Ronald Royer who was on his second visit to Finland, was Travels with Mozart, a series of variations on the theme “Bei Mannern, welche Liebe fuhlen” from the Magic Flute, containing an introduction, seven variations and a tarantella. The idea of the variations is to borrow an item with a link to places where Mozart traveled. Most often this is the same item that the young composer learned or borrowed on his travels. This, combined with skilful orchestration, resulted in a classical, colourful framework to which syncopated dissonance brought a refreshing sharpness. The neoclassical basic style seemed, at moments, to take on nuances resembling those of young Charles Ives. This is a work that is at once both amusing and one to be taken seriously, by a composer whose work one would be delighted to hear more. --- (Excerpt) Karjalainen Sept. 15th 2007


Dances with Time for Flute (with Piccolo and Alto flute), Cello and Chamber Orchestra
JYVÄSKYLÄ SINFONIA - Concert on September 22, 2004
Published on September 24th in the newspaper Keskisuomalainen (written by Mikko Voutilainen)

On Wednesday Patrick Gallois transformed the structure of the concert programme upside down.  Usually concerts go along in the usual way “overture - another orchestral work - concerto - symphony”.  Now the symphony, Beethoven’s 2nd, was played first.  Saint-Saens’ first cello concerto was supposed to be the finale, but was played in the middle, as the highest culmination was granted the concerto “Dances With Time” by Canadian Ronald Royer.  The reason for the change was explained by Gallois (in Finnish):  “because Royer’s composition is so fine”.

The audience thought Royer’s work was more than fine: they gave it a standing ovation.

Ronald Royer’s (aged 45) four-piece concerto for flute, cello and string orchestra accompanied with percussion, bassoon and clarinet is a composition which skillfully enclosed and connected different musical styles.  The time period is over five centuries.  The composition’s first part is a Fantasia based on a theme by the Renaissance composer John Tavener, from which the composition moved through French court music from the beginning of the 18th century to the impressionistically colored sounds of the beginning of the 20th century to the intensive pulse of today’s multicultural Los Angeles.

Royer has fine skills in controlling his wide sound palette.  The style features which point at the history of music are distinguished, but not so much that the listener’s time would only go on mapping the historical references.  Most of all Royer draws a clear, holding character of sound and atmosphere for each part of the work.

The attraction of “Dances With Time” is based upon the excellently written parts of the solo instruments.  The cello and flute play captivating melodies, enter a spirited and lively dialogue, leads on a dance that goes beneath your feet and on admiration of musical beauty.  Royer avoids “effects”.  His writing is naturally demanding but still the text is musical for the solo instruments.

The soloists for the premier were the Canadian cellist Shauna Rolston and French flautist Patrick Gallois, who both gave their praise to the inspirational composition with their sparkling performance.


Nocturne for Clarinet and String Orchestra, Fantaisie-Impromptu for Flute and String Orchestra and In Memorian-Fryderyk Chopin for Clarinet, Cello and String Orchestra

“Under [guest conductor Michel] Brousseau’s commanding direction both [clarinetist Simon] Cole and [flutist Don] Bond brought to the audience a most amazing tribute to Fryderyk Chopin, composed by Canadian Ronald Royer. With Brousseau evoking the most subtle, sweetest melody, the [Prince George Symphony] orchestra was completely in tune, on time and a new modern treasure was introduced to Prince George audiences.” - The Free Press


Water and Light, Fireworks at the Falls for Orchestra

“Niagara Symphony’s string section played furiously to provide a shimmery water setting, and the horn section, trumpets particularly, gave this piece a regal majesty that was musically breathtaking and worthy of its Niagara Falls inspiration.” – The Tribune


Dance for Orchestra

“After the intermission came the West Coast premiere of Royer’s “Dance for Orchestra,” written in 1995. Bold, sonorous, and not in the least intimidating, it resembled something of a hybrid between late Stravinsky and film music. It was warmly received, and greeted with enthusiastic applause…” - Glendale News-Press


Celebration Overture for Orchestra

“A sizable matinee audience seemed instantly at home with a pleasing work by Ronald Royer, noted BSO cellist and Canadian composer. In a piece called Celebration Overture, commissioned by the BSO, the orchestra warmed to both conductor and composer, giving brisk articulation to some bouncy folk tunes within a contrasting sweep of more plaintive sonorities. Full of wake-up fanfares, dance-like syncopations and pizzicato playfulness, Royer’s short piece set a mood of sprightliness and spontaneity for the first half of the concert.” - The Expositor, Brantford


Sinfonia Concertante for Piano Trio and Orchestra

“Ronald Royer is Missa’s composer-in-residence and we were fortunate enough to be part of an audience witnessing the Gryphon trio original presentation of his Sinfonia concertante for violin; cello; piano and orchestra. The work was created to be a pastiche of two musical schools –Shostakovitch & Mozart; the result is fascinating and very exciting. The trio, comprised of violinist Annalee Patipatanakoon, Roman Borys-cello & pianist Jamie Parker; are all talented musicians and Royer admits that their input was instrumental (pun intended) in the success of the work. And success it is; from the exhilarating opening movement with its exhilarating tempi that mirror song & dance rhythms, to the fantasia 2nd which contains technical malformation for an unusual effect. The melody is based on Icelandic folk music that is hauntingly expressive that utilizes exotic cadences. The finale rondo bears similarity to a bolero; but with a slight jazz motif. The overall impression…audibly mesmerizing and a piece we need to have recorded for wide distribution.” - Halton Arts Review


CD Reviews

Romancing Chopin

Toronto Sinfonietta; Matthew Jaskiewicz

“Conductor Matthew Jaskiewicz conducts the Toronto Sinfonietta in Romancing Chopin, an ambitious album that brings together several exceptional soloists and a pair of Canadian composers in a tribute to Chopin’s continuing legacy. Ronald Royer, composer in residence with the ensemble, contributes three substantial works of his own as well as several arrangements of Chopin’s chamber works…quite a fascinating release.”
- Wholenote, Toronto

“What makes the album special is that it contains only one original version of a Chopin composition…A decidedly off-beat addition to the Chopin discography… [a] fine disc.”
- The Toronto Star

Music of a Life So Far...

Simon Fryer, cello: Lydia Wong, piano…Phoenix Records

“Pieces by Canadians Alexina Louie, Gary Kulesha, Alice Ho and Ronald Royer are all worthwhile, their individual voices genuinely felt.” - Saturday Free Press, Winnipeg

“In Simon Fryer, Royer’s Odyssey finds a persuasive advocate.” - The Toronto Star

The Storyteller's Bag

Chamber Music Society of Mississauga Concert Theatre Productions, The Children’s Group

“Royer’s haunting score for The Star Lily is the most instantly captivating, but the whole disc has merit and considerable charm.” - Wholenote, Toronto

“Both Peggy’s Violin and The Storyteller’s Bag are absolutely mesmerizing. Your children will want to listen to them over and over again, just as I have.” - Charlotte Bohn, Baltimore’s Child, May 2007

“With its descriptive language and wide cast of characters, ‘The Storyteller’s Bag’ could easily be used to spark children’s creativity…the stories create a world where the glow of the campfire, not the television, holds sway over children's imaginations.”- York Dispatch, Feb. 15, 2007

“Thoroughly original…thoroughly engaging…wonderful mix of new music and stories for young screen-addicted five-year-olds listened with rapture the first time I put on The Storyteller’s Bag and begged for it again the next day.” - City Parent magazine, 2006

“A great bedtime story experience…” - Metroparent magazine, April 2007

…a charming collection of stories…” - The Scene magazine, Mar. 1, 2007

“…a delightful collection of myths...” - Real Travel Adventures, March 2007

“…a fanciful and engaging collection…” - Baltimore’s Child, May 2007