The Four Seasons of Canada/Les Quatre Saisons du Canada

The Four Seasons of Canada/Les Quatre Saisons du Canada

Versions:

  • String Orchestra (2013, revised 2015 & 2020)

Works

Technical Information

Duration – 20:35

The Four Seasons of Canada/Les Quatre Saisons du Canada (2013, revised 2015 & 2020)

  1. Winter: snowfall/L’hiver: flocons de neige – 3:50
  2. Spring: rebirth/Le printemps: renaissance – 5:05
  3. Summer: rainstorm/L’ete: orage – 5:20
  4. Autumn: melancholy/L’automnes: melancolie – 6:20
Winter/L’hiver by Ronald Royer
  • Winter/L’hiver
  • Spring/Le printemps
  • Summer/L’ete
  • Autumn/L’automne

Program Notes

The Four Seasons of Canada seeks to explore a familiar music/artistic theme, flavoured with a Canadian connection. Each movement is based on a programmatic idea, allowing the music to create an atmospheric environmental experience for the listener. As well, this composition is intended to be a vehicle to showcase a wide range of string colours and techniques through four different soundscapes.

Winter in Canada brings to mind snow, ice and frozen temperatures. This movement evokes a sparse, desolate, and frigid sound picture of a calm, quiet evening’s snow. If one is lucky enough to avoid travelling during one these storms, snow can be quite peaceful and beautiful.

Spring, associated with the ideas of rebirth, renewal and regrowth, is portrayed in the music by displaying a sense of optimism, energy and some musical representations of nature.  Inspired by the mental imagery of nature bursting forth with green, as well as streams swollen with runoff and birds chirping, the music features blooming, energetic, and flowing musical lines mixed with some instrumental bird calls. After a long Canadian winter, there is a sense of joy and relief.

A Canadian Summer, redolent with hot weather, and sudden thunderstorms, will undergo a musical depiction. Besides the regular changes in weather, research into climate change indicates there is mounting evidence that man-made greenhouse gases are bringing about more violent and extreme weather. Last summer (2013) brought quite an intense series of rainstorms and flooding in Canada, including one in my hometown of Toronto. This movement will feature intense, dissonant, choppy and fast moving music to portray a musical storm complete with some distant thunder.

Autumn has often been associated with melancholy, but also features the lush abundance of the season. The music will depict this bittersweet and conflicted quality, in the framework of a Canadian autumn of changing colours, falling leaves, Thanksgiving, and impending winter.

Canadian elements include:

  1. The Suite starts with Winter, which has a prominent impact on Canadian society. Material from Winter comes back at the beginning and end of the Autumn movement, underlining this importance.
  2. Both France and England had major influences on the development of Canada. Both French impressionism and 20th century British music are influences in the music.
  3. Modern day Canada is multi-cultural, so a variety of other musical influences are found in the music, from traditional Balinese Gamelan music (i.e. Spring) to 20th Century Russian music (i.e. Summer).
  4. Since French and English serve as the official languages (and are included on all consumer items), both languages are used for the titles of each movement and tempo indications are listed in French, versus the more traditional Italian.

Commissioning and First Performance

The Four Season of Canada was commissioned by and is dedicated to Nurhan Arman and Sinfonia Toronto in honour of their 15th anniversary season. The first performance was on April 11, 2014 at the Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto, Ontario, featuring Sinfonia Toronto with guest conductor Johannes Rieger. Nurhan Arman first conducted this work with Sinfonia Toronto on May 16, 2014 at King’s Christian Collegiate, Oakville, Ontario. Supporting the commission was Symphony New Brunswick with music director/conductor Michael Newnham, and the i’Palpiti Orchestra (USA) with music director/conductor Eduard Schmieder.

Sinfonia Toronto, Nurhan Arman conductor, commissioner & premiere performance