The five movements of my suite are arrangements for violin and piano of various occasional pieces of mine composed between 1996 and 2002. The final movement is subtitled Snow Flurry as the original upon which it is based was written during an early winter snow storm in Toronto in November, 2002.
Karlheinz Stockhausen, Luciano Berio and Pierre Boulez have long been in my group of compositional heroes. Not that I have always understood or accepted what they were doing but rather because they opened new vistas of compositional processes.
Stockhausen in particular offered composers new ideas about the way music is structured. His ‘moment’ forms made a deep impression and his early electronic music pieces Gesang der Jünglinge and Kontakte blazed new pathways. They are classics in the music of the twentieth century.
Adieu KS for solo vioklin is my musical way of offering a deep sense of gratitude to Karlheinz Stockhausen. This short hommage nods in the directly of Stockhausen’s early Sonatina for violin and piano and utilises a sequence of pitches from this work. Fragments contrast with continuity, melody with violinistic sounds and movement with stasis.
This piece was inspired by the beguiling sounds of the aeolian harp to which I was first introduced by Chris Cree Brown. Said to have been first ‘discovered’ by the ancient Greeks, aeolian harps are intended to be played not by human hands, but by the wind. The strings vibrates through a range of harmonics creating an eerie effect difficult to describe.
Bright Silence, for solo violin, is an evocation of Central Otago, the high plateau between the Southern Alps and the coastal plains in the South Island of New Zealand. The area is treeless, rocky, sparsely populated, and the piece reflects the sounds, silences and ghosts of the area.
Bright Silence was written while Gillian Whitehead was composer-in-residence with the Auckland Philharmonia, as the solo violin competition piece for the inaugural Michael Hill World Violin Competition (now the Michael Hill International Violin Competition) held at Queenstown, New Zealand, where it received its first eighteen performances in June 2001. The piece is dedicated to Michael Hill.
This short piece was written as a twenty-first birthday present for clarinetist Esther Smaill. The melodic fragment heard at the outset soon skitters over its own unstable surface, mutates into fanfare-like repetitions, is spliced with momentary cantabile inserts, is interrupted by slow motion signposts, and blows itself out in a final burst of energy.