Monthly Archives: February 2013

Jorinda

The opera Jorinda has its own website  which you can visit by clicking here.

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Love is an Art of Time

Cover Art Image at the Fontaine de MedicisLove is an Art of Time was written in 1985. It was commissioned by and dedicated to James McLean and Gianetta Baril of the tenor-harp duo Lyracord. It was composed with the much-appreciated financial assistance of the Ontario Arts Council.

Writing these five settings was one of my most positive commissions. James and Gianetta gave excellent performances – as you can hear in the premiere performance connected to this post – and they included the work in a tour of Ontario. More importantly, they gave me a lot of valuable guidance throughout the creation of the work. Gianetta, in particular, provided a lot of help with the daunting task of writing effectively for concert harp. The following recordings are from the premiere performance on March 8, 1985 by Lyracord:

Introduction by James McLean

1. Now the starlit, moonless Spring

2. The blue-eyed grass

3. Sharp in my heart

4. Void only

5. Another spring

I had fallen in love with Kenneth Rexroth’s translations of Japanese poems, which prompted me to read Rexroth’s own poetry. When I did, I found several poems that were eminently singable. (Not all poems have that quality, to say the least, and many poems stubbornly refuse to cooperate with composers and, when set, seem to enter into a dysfunctional coupling, an unholy alliance.)

In 2012, my wife and I went to Paris, France. It was my first visit to the City of Lights and I thoroughly loved it. I felt very much at home in a place where such a high value is placed on both historic and contemporary culture. Listed in the Paris attractions was the Fontaine de Medicis in the Jardin du Luxembourg and I was reminded of the first poem I had set: “Now the moonless, starlit Spring”. Of course, we visited the Fontaine and the picture that included with this post was taken by photographer wife, Elizabeth Cunningham.

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Fair Mona


(4:54)

An elaborate construction – first conceived in 1992 – combining classical, straight ahead pop, and science-based spoken word. This piece had its genesis while reading a nature magazine about the sex life of bugs, snakes and other creatures.

The tiny male moth who flies miles to reach a mate finds the powerful scent of her pheromones to be irresistable. Irresistable to me was the chance to tell the story of mating praying mantises accompanied by the Liebstod from Tristan and Isolde. Alternating the classically-based music – some quoted, some original – which accompany the scientific readings, are verses of a pop song telling the story of a sexually insecure young man, craving to be with the fair Mona.

This performance features the late Lister Sinclair, a true polymath and one of the most renowned voices from the golden age of the CBC, reading the text. Lister was a delight to work with. He quite got into the irreverent spirit of the song and delivered a perfect performance. We met for coffee a few months after I finished the CD. He passed away the following year on October 16, 2006 at age 85.

Other credits: lead vocal: Doug Jamieson; background vocals: Meghan McGuiness, Lesley Bouza & Linda Hendry; guitar: Paul Chapman; flute: Maria Pelletier; Sax: Scott McGuffin; midi orchestra accompaniment is partly original and partly – and greatly – indebted to Peter Tchaikovsky & Richard Wagner. Thanks also to J. Richard Hutt who mastered the recording.

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