Sarabande (In Memoriam J.S. Bach), for Viola and Chamber Orchestra
Other Versions: see Partita (In Memory of J.S. Bach), for Violin and Piano (2000)
Dances with Percussion
- French Overture and Danzon – 6:20
- Fantasy on a Sarabande – 6:30
- Rondo Jig – 7:40
Dances with Percussion (Dedicated to Jean Norman Iadeluca), for Timpani, Drum Set and Orchestra
Dances with Percussion was composed for and is dedicated to timpanist Jean Norman Iaduleca in honour of his 70th birth year and his 47th year performing with the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra (HPO). Jean Norman’s great friend and long-term colleague at the HPO, Ernie Porthouse, conceived the idea of commissioning a timpani concerto in his honour. Because they have performed together so often over the years, including 560 duo performances, Jean Norman decided Ernie should be included as a drum set soloist. Ernie successfully approached HPO music director Gemma New and Executive Director Diana Weir with the project, and then approached me. I immediately said yes to this intriguing project. It is quite unusual to combine timpani and drum set as soloists with an orchestra, and I was eager to create a piece that showcased the possibilities of this combination. As well, I was delighted to work with Jean Norman, Ernie, Gemma and the HPO.
Deciding how to approach a concerto for timpani, drum set, and orchestra was challenging. I wanted to allow Jean Norman and Ernie to realize their aspirations for the design and concept of the concerto. I also hoped the work would reflect their love and passion for music, as well as touch on their wonderful sense of humour. Jean Norman wanted the timpani part to focus on melodic playing and musicality within a more classical framework. Ernie wanted the drum set part to include a variety of Latin American and jazz rhythms (including Afro-Cuban jazz elements). Gemma was interested in having the piece complement a program of dance music by Bernstein, Copland and Márquez.
The first movement combines elements of a Baroque era French Overture and a Latin American Danzón. The opening is inspired by typical French Overture rhythms, but then a timpani and drum set cadenza is included. The following fast section starts with a typical French Overture fugato but is based on Latin American Danzón rhythms, which are developed throughout the movement. In the middle of this fast section, the music also includes an Afro-Cuban Montuno, a repetitive rhythmic figure played by the piano.
The second movement is a fantasy based on a Baroque era Sarabande dance rhythm. The music begins with a contemplative mood before the timpani enters with a stately and sensitive Sarabande theme. After a series of “classical” variations, the Sarabande theme transforms into a jazz waltz, starting with a solo clarinet followed by a timpani jazz solo. The full orchestra helps to build to the climax, before the original Sarabande theme returns to conclude the movement.
The third movement combines a classical era rondo [ABACA] and a Celtic Jig, with Latin American dance rhythms for extra flavor. The movement starts with the timpani playing a march-like jig theme and progresses to the other soloist playing a traditional Irish bodhrán drum. The piccolo plays a traditional Celtic folksong from Nova Scotia aptly named Drummer Boy. The timpani theme returns before moving into the B section featuring a Celtic folksong from Ireland named the Rakes of Kildare. Latin American elements are mixed in, including the drum set playing Afro-Cuban Abakuá rhythms. The first timpani and Drummer Boy themes return and progress to the C section based on a Scottish folksong called Lannagan’s Ball. The rhythm of this theme is slightly changed to give the music a more Latin American feel. The final A section is varied by speeding up the Drummer Boy theme and to end with upbeat and virtuosic music for the soloists and orchestra.
Rhapsody for Oboe, Horn and Orchestra
Other Versions: Oboe, Horn and Wind Ensemble (14 players): Oboe, Horn and Piano
Rhapsody was commissioned by principal oboist Sarah Jeffrey and hornist Gabriel Radford of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. This husband and wife team wanted an addition to the limited repertoire for oboe and horn that would showcase this unique musical combination. Inspired by the 19th century rhapsodic form made famous by Liszt, Royer allows the oboe and horn to demonstrate their melodic expressiveness and technical prowess through a variety of musical styles and moods. In Rhapsody, Royer pays tribute to the 19th century tradition as well as 20th century rhapsodies by Bartok, Enescu, Debussy, Ravel and Rachmaninoff. As well, Royer was influenced by North and South American musical elements, combining them with Canadian connections. Composed in three continuous sections, Rhapsody starts with a slow section, featuring majestic and mysterious elements. The second section was written in an Eastern European playful dance-like style in a moderate speed, inspired by Bartok. The third section features virtuosic writing for the oboe and horn, including horn calls and fast passage work for the oboe.
The Rhapsody was originally written for Oboe, Horn and Orchestra, and was premiered by the Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra with the composer conducting in 2013. The Rhapsody was then arranged in 2015 for Oboe, Horn and Wind Ensemble for the Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra’s concert and recording project named Canadian Panorama.
Fantasy Variations on a Gregorian Chant for Trumpet, Flugelhorn and Chamber Orchestra
(string parts can be played by a section or a single player)
Other Version: Trumpet, Flugelhorn and Piano
When Burnette Dillon asked me to write a concerto using a variety of different trumpets, I was intrigued. We began by making a plan to use three instruments: a piccolo trumpet in A, a flugelhorn and a trumpet in Bb. Both the piccolo trumpet and the flugelhorn were new territory for me as a composer. Luckily, Burnette was a commissioner who wanted to have an active part in the creation of a new work. His help in creating solo parts that were idiomatic was invaluable. Burnette has worked as both a symphonic and studio musician in Los Angeles, so I decided to make musical references to both worlds.
The opening Ouverture, for piccolo trumpet, is in a neo-baroque style, in homage to an instrument commonly associated with this era. The movement is basically in a French Ouverture form, with a slow majestic start followed by a fast, energetic, and virtuosic middle section, and ends with a return to the slow majestic music. The musical material from the very opening is continually developed throughout the movement, using a variety of baroque (and more contemporary) techniques, including a fugato in the fast section.
The slow movement features the flugelhorn, an instrument rarely used in classical compositions, but commonly found in jazz ensembles. Being a Nocturne, the movement aims to suggest a night atmosphere with a quiet and meditative character. Starting with a slow plaintive melody, the movement switches to a more upbeat section with a slight jazz influence, suggesting a little night time frivolity.
The finale is for the Bb trumpet and is named Divertissement, a piece designed for the entertainment of the audience and the players. The movement is in a straight forward sonata allegro form, but sounds more like a musical potpourri, going through a variety of virtuosic episodes for the trumpet, the horn section and the rest of the ensemble. Film music is an influence, here paying tribute to Hollywood action/adventure films.
Duetto Amoroso, for Flute, English Horn and Orchestra
(harp and 3rd trumpet are optional)
Other versions: Cinema for Orchestra and Romance for Clarinet, String Orchestra, Piano and/or Harp
Romance for Clarinet, String Orchestra, Piano and Harp (9:10)
The Romance for Clarinet, String Orchestra, Piano and Harp was rewritten in the fall of 2004 for clarinetist Jerome Summers based on a previously composed orchestral piece called Cinema, which had been written the previous winter. Cinema was commissioned for a special 40th anniversary concert to celebrate the foundation of the Hamilton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and Dr. Glenn Mallory’s directorship. I had asked Glenn to describe his dream composition for this project. After some thought, Glenn said he would love a piece featuring a beautiful romantic melody.
Today, one of the fields of musical composition that most highly values sweeping romantic melody is music for film. Having worked in Los Angeles for the motion picture and television industry during the 1980’s, I decided to draw on this experience to compose Cinema. Combining both American and European influences, Cinema and therefore Romance was written in two sections. In this version called Romance, the opening section has a “Magical” atmosphere created by the strings, piano and harp against a more improvisatory and melodic clarinet part ending with a solo clarinet cadenza. In the second section, the main romantic melody is first heard in the clarinet. This section also includes a darker “film noir” melody featuring a solo violin and cello with the clarinet. Romance ends as it began, quietly and calmly.
Romance was first performed by clarinetist Jerome Summers and the Toronto Sinfonietta conducted by Ronald Royer at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto on January 23, 2005.
Commissioning and First Performance
Cinema for Orchestra was commissioned by the Hamilton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, as part of an Ontario Trillium Grant project connected to the 40th anniversary of the orchestra.
First performance: May 22, 2004, Great Hall, Hamilton Place, Hamilton, Hamilton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, Dr. Glenn A. Mallory conductor.
Concerto for Trumpets (1 player) and Chamber Orchestra
(alternate part for 1 percussion)
Other Versions: Piano reduction by Sergei Kofman, assisted by the composer; 3rd movt., Divertissement, for Trumpet and Brass Ensemble
- Ouverture, for Piccolo Trumpet (5:44)
- Nocturne, for Flugelhorn (6:11)
- Divertissement, for The Trumpet (6:47)
Echoes for Clarinet and Orchestra
Other version: 2nd movt., Lest We Forget for Solo Violin, Piano, Percussion, and String Orchestra
Echoes, a Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra was composed to explore various meanings and ways an “echo” can be incorporated into a soloist-versus-orchestra structure. This three-movement work utilizes musical ideas that can be echoed by different combinations of the soloist and various instruments of the orchestra, or sometimes, just by the soloist. Echoes exploits the clarinet’s wide range of expressive possibilities and technical versatility, including the instrument’s huge dynamic range. For the orchestration, Echoes uses several spatial and antiphonal effects, on stage as well as the placing of musicians in the auditorium and backstage.
Echoes was commissioned by the Brantford Symphony to commemorate the 30th anniversary of clarinetist Kaye Royer playing with the orchestra. The composer writes, “I greatly appreciated the opportunity to compose this concerto for my wife. She is a wonderful professional player, and we always enjoy working together. The music was written in a neo-romantic style to represent the continued romance of our marriage.”
Commissioning and First Performance
This composition was commissioned by the Brantford Symphony Orchestra (BSO) supported by a music-commissioning grant from the Ontario Arts Council. The first performance was on April 18, 2010 with Kaye Royer playing clarinet, Philip Sarabura conducting the BSO and the composer playing in the cello section.
Danza Habanera for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon and Chamber Orchestra
- Solo fl.,ob.,cl.,bsn./0.0.0.0./188.8.131.52./2perc./strings
- Solo fl.,ob.,cl.,bsn./0.0.0.0./184.108.40.206./1perc./strings
Other Version: Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon and Piano
A habanera is a Cuban dance and song named after its capital, Havana. It was first popular in the western world at the beginning of the 19th century and later became popular in Europe, especially in Spain. The habanera is possibly the most universal of all Cuban musical forms. There are various theories regarding its origin, ranging from Cuban Pre-Columbian music or even the music of the Incas, to a similarity between the habanera and the zortzico Basque air of Spain.
Mr. Royer added Danza to the Habanera title to denote a freer use of form from the traditional habanera. Four solo woodwinds (flute, oboe, clarinet and bassoon) are featured in various groupings, each of which is featured in a short solo cadenza. The Danza Habanera starts with a plaintive air in the key of C Minor and gradually evolves into a happier but dreamier piece in the key of F Major. With a variation of the opening habanera rhythm, the composition (now in G Minor) builds in intensity to reach the climax in an intense orchestra tutti before returning to the beginning plaintive atmosphere.
The Danza Habanera was first performed in 2008 and was commissioned by the Mississauga Symphony Orchestra with the assistance of the Canada Council for the Arts. This work is dedicated to John Barnum and the Mississauga Symphony Orchestra.
Rhapsody for Violin and Chamber Orchestra
Other Version: Violin and Piano
The Rhapsody draws inspiration from a variety of European sources, including French Impressionism, German Expressionism, Hungarian folk music, and virtuosic Spanish violin music. Combining all these disparate styles of music, ranging from Ravel and Bartok to Sarasate, allowed me to create a new work based on a traditional and popular form. Composing took place in three comfortable locations, my home in Toronto, my in-laws’ home in the rural Ontario town of Cayuga and my parents’ home in Los Angeles. This also helped in giving me the right ambience and variety of influences for this enjoyable endeavor.
The Rhapsody was commissioned and first performed by the Orchestras Mississauga (John Barnum, music director) with the assistance of the Canada Council for the Arts.