Wide Ties (1991)

for: chamber orchestra (0-2-0-1; 0-0-0-0; 5-4-3-2-1)
duration: 4 minutes
premiered: by the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, Winnipeg, February 5, 1992
Du Maurier Arts Commission

As the title suggests, Wide Ties is intended as a light-hearted work. When the request for this fanfare reached me, I found the instrumentation (three woodwinds and string orchestra) at odds with all my notions of that ancient musical form. I took this as a challenge. A fanfare without brass required me to shift my perspective concerning instrumental colour, while retaining the traditional fanfare’s appropriate grand character. With this in mind, I set out to write a piece that has an air of celebration and fun, that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Much of this four-minute piece is very fast and syncopated, however, a brief lyrical section toward the end of the work provides an island of repose.

The principle behind Wide Ties is the idea of “appropriateness altered by context.” The piece is a traditional musical form (by name at least) played by an uncharacteristic Baroque orchestra at the end of the twentieth century. This “altered context” is also illustrated musically through the use of a relentless motive whose character is changed and developed through its various harmonic backdrops. Wide Ties, as a clothing accessory of questionable appropriateness within today’s fashion context, seemed a friendly way to sum-up this idea.

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