Buildings – for chamber ensemble

25 min long work in 11 movements inspired by buildings in Toronto and Montreal.

Please contact me if you would like to perform this work! Only a few movements have been performed.


Flute, Clarinet, Violin, Percussion (bongo, vibraphone, cymbal, tom-tom and snare drum) and Piano

This work is inspired by architecture, and it marks my first serious foray into writing chamber music. The five movement suite is sewn together with repeating musical links or sidewalks as I see them, in the form of a Prelude, various Interludes and Postlude; these movements share a common time signature and theme. In between these traveling gestures are pieces that are influenced in someway by buildings.

Prelude, Interlude and Postlude: fast and fleeting, these short fragments break up the seriousness of the buildings. The music offers a cleansing transition using a light atmosphere with a whimsical rhythmic vitality. The instrumentation ranges from solo, duet, trio, quartet and full ensemble writing.

2600 Pierre-Dupuy Ave:

Habitat67 was constructed for Expo67 in Montreal Canada. It was designed by Moshe Safdie. He planned the work using Lego bricks – the story is he bought out all the bricks in Montreal stores. It is a brutlist style featuring large concrete blocks that were built elsewhere and combined on site. The music is in a linear form, organically developing from the opening gesture. This linear style is influenced by Habitats shape.

44 Charles Street West:


The Manulife Centre is a brutilist building, and a staple of Toronto architecture. It was completed in 1974 and at the time was the tallest concrete building in Canada. Currently it is 80th tallest building in the country, and 32nd tallest in the city. The piano motif articulates the A sections, meant to capture the rich history of Bloor street and the ‘Mink Mile’ where the building is situated. The percussion in featured in the B section; it represents the Manulife Centre’s dominating, huge scale. It is undeniable taking up an entire city block and always present in the city. The instruments flicker and weave around the ever present percussion, as if to portray the light reflecting off the concrete squares, or other buildings glass reflections and also the colourful inhabitants who live in the apartments.

438 Richmond Street West:

Known as “The Morgan” this condo is in the heart of the Toronto fashion district, it captures the Art Decco style of 1920’s Manhattan NY. The music recreates the tension the city can bring; the hustle and bustle of the city, always moving, sometimes safe, sometimes violent. There are moments of calm repose juxtaposed with chromatic outbursts illuminating the fluidity of city life.

460-480 Queens Quay West:

Arthur Erickson’s “Kings Landing” (1981) building has long horizontal concrete lines with terraces and solariums which curve and flow, emulating lapping waves from the lake. This work for violin and piano captures the beauty of Lake Ontario, as well as the ominous storms and freezing winter ice articulating natures power.

 

383 Ellis Park:

This building known as “Home on the Park” sits at the edge of Toronto’s High Park. The building is almost hidden due to the large terraces which flow into the High Park trees. There is a blurred boundary between condo and park. The music captures the rolling hills, wildlife trails, zoo and water of the park.


Prelude full ensemble

2600 Pierre-Dupuy Ave – full ensemble

Interlude  – flute, clarinet and piano

44 Charles Street West –  full ensemble

Interlude –  full ensemble

438 Richmond Street West –  flute, clarinet, violin and percussion

Interlude –  solo violin

460-480 Queens Quay West –  violin and piano 

Interlude  – vibraphone and piano

383 Ellis Park –  flute, clarinet and violin

Postlude –  full ensemble

SATB Choir and Wind Tentet

8 min duration

Text: Marjorie Pickthall

Published by Plangere Editions Toronto

Purchase score


Commissioned by Exultate Chamber Singers and Toronto Winds. Premiered April 2018, Toronto, Hilary Apfelstadt conductor.

AUDIO

 


Instrumentation

2 flutes
2 oboes
2 clarinets
2 bassoons

2 french horns

SATB chorus

Resurgam [I Shall Rise] Marjorie Pickthall.

from the Selected Poems of Marjorie Pickthall 1883-1922. In public domain.

I shall say, Lord, “Is it music, is it morning,
Song that is fresh as sunrise, light that sings?”
When on some hill there breaks the immortal warning Of half-forgotten springs.

I shall say, Lord, “I have loved you, not another, Heard in all quiet your footsteps on my road, Felt your strong shoulder near me, O my brother, Lightening the load.”

I shall say, Lord, “I remembered, working, sleeping, One face I looked for, one denied and dear.
Now that you come my eyes are blind with weeping, But you will kiss them clear.”

I shall say, Lord, “Touch my lips, and so unseal them; I have learned silence since I lived and died.”
I shall say, Lord, “Lift my hands, and so reveal them, Full, satisfied.”

I shall say, Lord, “We will laugh again tomorrow, Now we’ll be still a little, friend with friend. Death was the gate and the long way was sorrow. Love is the end.”


Resurgam is a blending of styles and traditions. This work combines instruments and voices in many ways and archetypes. At times, the instruments provide harmonic and melodic support for the voices, and at other times, the instruments take on the melodic forefront while the voices drone, echo or provide harmonic support in the background.

I attempt to blend ideas of Renaissance polyphonic writing and polychoral styles alongside more traditional Classical homophonic chorale-like textures. Resurgam combines these traditions with innovation by writing with contemporary melodic gestures featuring large leaps, angular passages, diatonic dissonance, unresolved dissonances and chromatic writing while still maintaing a singable and tuneful composition.

The form of the work follows the form of the poem; each stanza has a unique ‘I Shall Say Lord” motive which is varied and used throughout the composition. This opening gesture is followed by a chorale-like setting of the remainder of the stanza. In between each stanza is a interlude which predominately features instrumental passages. The middle a cappella section gives way to the climax of the composition with a single clarinet connecting the sections. Here the full ensemble joins together in melodic ideas and fragmentation of previous musical material. Resurgam slowly closes in a calm, reflective ethos.

 

Toronto Winds

Exultate Chamber Singers