Solo fl.(doubling picc. and afl.), cello/0.0.1.1./0.0.0.0./1perc./strings
Other Versions: Flute(s), Cello and Piano; Two violins, Cello and Piano version of Danzón (2017)
- Fantasia on an In Nomine (by John Taverner, c.1490-1545) – 8:10
- Tambourin and Tango passacaglia (inspired by a theme of Pancrace Royer, 1705-1755) – 4:20
- Chanson de Nuit (inspired by a theme of Etienne Royer, 1882-1928) – 6:20
- 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.