Sinfonia Concertante for Piano Trio and Orchestra



Other Version: 2nd movt., Fantasia for Piano Trio (2007)

Date: 2006, revised 2010

Duration:  24:40

  1. Introduzione – 6:30
  2. Fantasia – 10:00
  3. Rondo – 8:10

My starting point for composing the Sinfonia Concertante was to acknowledge the anniversary of the births of two great composers, Mozart and Shostakovitch, in 2006.   I decided I would play with the differences between the elegant and refined music of the 18th century Mozart and the more emotional and intense music of the 20th century Shostakovitch.  As I developed my composition, I decided not to quote or imitate the music of Mozart and Shostakovitch but to emphasize the idea of contrast.  Using melodic, harmonic, rhythmic, textual and instrumental as well as emotional and stylistic differences, I would explore this idea of contrast.

The first movement, Introduzione, has a strong Latin American element (especially from Argentina) with aggressive rhythms.  The movement starts with an orchestral introduction featuring the compound rhythm of a 3/4 bar followed by a 5/8 bar building into a dramatic solo cadenza for the three soloists.  The contrasting second section is in a playful and simpler 6/8 time while the more intense third section includes elements of the Spanish fandango.

The second movement, Fantasia, starts with the pianist plucking and strumming inside the piano creating a mysterious and atmospheric mood which is then continued by the orchestra.  The following neo-romantic section features the solo cello and violin in an expressive melodic passage while the piano plays a more ornamental and supporting role.  The music progresses to a playful scherzo section based on an Icelandic rhythm.  When I started working on the Sinfonia Concertante last spring (2006), I heard a lecture by the Icelandic composer, Tryggvi Baldvinsson and discovered that Icelandic folk melody commonly uses the complex rhythmic pattern of 4 plus 3 plus 4 plus 2.  I was intrigued and went home and composed the melody which ended up in the Fantasia.  The movement ends with an atmospheric and dramatic cadenza for the three soloists ending with the solo cello imitating a seagull call.

The third movement, Rondo, begins with music influenced by 20th century French styles (including Ravel), and features both graceful and virtuosic playing from the soloists.  The contrasting middle section starts with a mysterious mood with Latin American elements building towards a dramatic piano climax with cascades of notes showing a jazzy influence.  The Rondo ends as it began, gracefully.


Sinfonia Concertante for Piano Trio and Orchestra was commissioned by the Gryphon Trio and Orchestras Mississauga, supported by a Canada Council for the Arts Composer Residency Grant. The first performance was on November 25, 2006, at the Living Arts Centre, Mississauga, with the Gryphon Trio, the Mississauga Symphony, and conductor John Barnum.

Dances with Time for Solo Flute (with Piccolo and Alto Flute), Solo Cello,
Clarinet, Bassoon, Percussion and String Orchestra


Solo fl.(doubling picc. and afl.), cello/

Other Versions: Flute(s), Cello and Piano; Two violins, Cello and Piano version of Danzón (2017)

Date: 2004

Duration:  27:00

  1. Fantasia on an In Nomine (by John Taverner, c.1490-1545) – 8:10
  2. Tambourin and Tango passacaglia (inspired by a theme of Pancrace Royer, 1705-1755) – 4:20
  3. Chanson de Nuit (inspired by a theme of Etienne Royer, 1882-1928) – 6:20
  4. Danzón (inspired by the City of Los Angeles) – 8:10

When flutist Patrick Gallois and cellist Shauna Rolston approached me with the idea of writing a double concerto for them, I was excited at the idea of composing for these superb musicians, as well as featuring two instruments dear to my heart.  Throughout my childhood, I was immersed in music, coming from a family of professional musicians.  I heard piano, flute and cello regularly from my pianist mother, flutist aunt and my grandfather who was a cellist and also my first cello teacher.

I realized this concerto was to begin a very personal journey for me, sending me in search of my cultural identity.  My father’s family journeyed from France, settling in Sherbrooke, Quebec, while my mother’s family moved to the United States from Italy.  I grew up in Los Angeles, married a Canadian and immigrated to Canada in 1985, having been exposed to a variety of cultures and artistic endeavours along the way.  Diverse musical influences from Canada, France, Italy, the U.S. and Latin America have been resonating with me throughout the project.  I have also explored the music of other “Royer composers”:  Pancrace Royer (1705-1755) who was a court composer to Louis XV of France and a later musician, Etienne Royer (1882-1928).  The interplay of historical figures as they intersected with a cultural heritage has proven to be an inspiration to the framework of this composition.

Dances with Time is a synthesis of historical and cultural elements spanning more than five hundred years of music history, from a Medieval Sarum antiphon through to the present, and integrating cultural influences from Europe and the Americas.  This past overshadows its present-day context and its continuing relevance and resonance echo through the concerto.  The concerto opens with Fantasia on an In Nomine by John Taverner (c. 1490-1545).  Originally part of the Mass Gloria tibi Trinitas, then transcribed for a consort of viols, this particular In Nomine had tremendous influence over a succession of English composers for one hundred and fifty years.  A prominent modern composer who utilizes its material is Peter Maxwell Davies.  In my concerto can be heard a fragment of the original Sarum antiphon, as well as a tribute to Taverner’s masterful use of counterpoint.  It plays a role in the development of the musical material throughout the entire concerto, and provides a point of unity in this context.

The second movement, Tambourin and Tango Passacaglia, is inspired by a theme of Pancrace Royer from his opera-ballet Almasis.  Its first performance took place in the Palace of Versailles in 1748 and starred the King’s mistress, Madame de Pompadour.  The Tango Passacaglia pays tribute to the great tango composer, Astor Piazzolla.  The Tango is linked to the Tambourin through the concept of a baroque passacaglia, with Taverner counterpoint as the basso ostinato and the Sarum antiphon fragment as the melody.

The third movement, Night Song, is inspired by a theme of Etienne Royer, taken from a piano trio dedicated to French pianist Ricardo Vines.  Vines proved an inspiration for Ravel, so in this movement I employ the alto flute for a Daphnis and Chloe-like colour.  In the fourth movement Danzon, the In Nomine musical material is transformed through the prism of my birthplace, Los Angeles, which contributes Latin American, Jazz, and a touch of Film Noir musical elements.

Commissioning and First Performances

Dances With Time for Solo Flute (with Piccolo and Alto Flute), Solo Cello, Clarinet, Bassoon, Percussion and String Orchestra was commissioned by Orchestras Mississauga and Sinfonia Finlandia (Finland), supported by a Canada Council for the Arts Composer Residency Grant.

First performances: September 22, 2004, at the City Theatre of Jyvaskyla, Finland, Patrick Gallois flute and conductor, Shauna Rolston cello, Sinfonia Finlandia; and February 5, 2005, Living Arts Centre, Mississauga, Louise DiTullio flute, Shauna Rolston cello, Mississauga Symphony, John Barnum conductor.

Partita for Violin and Chamber Orchestra (in Memory of J.S.Bach)


Solo vn./2(2=picc).1.ehn.1.bcl.2(2=cbn)./

(contra bassoon is optional)

Other Versions:

  1. A) Partita for Violin and Piano (2000)
  2. B) Sarabande and Capriccio movements: In Memoriam J.S. Bach, for Viola, String Orchestra and Harpsichord; In Memoriam J.S. Bach, for Violin and Chamber Ensemble (Nonet); Viola and Piano
  3. C) Sarabande movt.: Viola and Chamber Orchestra; Flute, Violin and Piano (or Organ); Violin and Organ; and Viola and Piano
  4. D) Capriccio movt.: String Quartet, String Quintet (quartet and bass), and Septet

Date: 2000

Duration:  15:19

Journey: A Concerto for Cello and Orchestra


Solo vc./2(2=picc).2.2(2=bcl).2./

(alternate 3rd horn part for trombone 1)

Date: 1996

Duration:  19:30

  1. Adagio tranquillo, Allegro
  2. Allegro con spirit

“Does the road wind up-hill all the way?

Yes, to the very end.

Will the day’s journey take the whole long day?

From morn to night, my friend.”

–Christina Rossetti

Journey has been designed to have a generalized programmatic element. The opening of the concerto depicts the dawn; the body of the concerto represents the journey; and the conclusion portrays the arrival at the destination. Comprised of two movements to be performed without break, Journey has a rhapsodic feel to contribute to the programmatic element of the composition.

The first movement employs the sonata-allegro form, with an introduction. The main motive in the introduction is presented by two solo violins. The entire concerto is based upon this motive (A, G#, Eb, D). In the main section of the movement (Allegro), the solo cello presents the first theme, which is a variation of the introductory motive. The second theme is presented in a more relaxed tempo (Moderato) yet is still related to the introductory motive.

The second movement is in a ternary or ABA form with an added brief introduction, interlude and coda. The solo cello introduces the A theme, a variation of the introductory motive (A, G#, Eb, D), now altered to A, G#, E, D. The concerto concludes with a coda, which takes as its main theme a variation of the A theme from the second movement, re-introduces material from the first and second movements, and climaxes with exciting cello work while the the flute and clarinet play a restatement of the introductory motive.