Arras: a Garden of Cinema (1992)

for: mezzo-soprano, string orchestra, string quartet, harp, three percussion
duration: 20 minutes
premiered: by the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, May 29, 1993 Victor Feldbrill, conductor.
Available on Vienna Modern Masters compact disc number VMM 3022.
Recorded by the Kozsalin State Philharmonic Orchestra, Kozsalin, Poland.

Arras: a Garden of Cinema is scored for mezzo-soprano, string orchestra, string quartet, harp and three percussionists. The piece is best described as chamber music on a large-scale with small concertante groups, or soloists as featured elements. The mezzo-soprano moves in and out of these groups on a journey of self-discovery. The music follows this same course as the individual groups or soloists strive for independence.

In this musical setting of the poem Arras, by P. K. Page, I have allowed the music to serve the text. Formally, the piece displays a very clear arch-structure. It is divided into five main parts: sections 1, 3 and 5 are settings of the text and follow its many intricate images and emotions. Sections 2 and 4 are orchestral interludes which offer a perspective on musical material that has gone before, and a hint of what is to come. The first interlude is characterized by chaos in the unmetered orchestral sections, interrupted by solos; the second interlude by solos interrupted by chaos in the percussion parts. Listeners will notice tributes to Lutoslawski, Varèse, and other composers in these interludes.

Arras: a Garden of Cinema was premiered in May 1993 by the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra in Hamilton, Ontario. Allyson McHardy was the mezzo-soprano soloist and Maestro Victor Feldbrill conducted the orchestra.

This work is available on the Vienna Modern Masters label (VMM 3022). It was recorded in July 1993 by the Koszalin State Philharmonic Orchestra with Szymon Kawalla conducting. Sulie Girardi was the mezzo-soprano soloist.

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