Concerto for Cello, Strings and Harpsichord
Instrumentation: Solo Cello, Strings and Harpsichord
Composition Date: 2015/16
Commissioned: The Alberta Baroque Ensemble
Premiered: January 30, 2015 by the Alberta Baroque Ensemble, Ronda Metzies soloist, Paul Schieman conductor, in Robertson Wesley United Church, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Many thanks to the Alberta Foundation for the Arts for their generous support of this commission.
I’m delighted and honoured to be writing my third commission for the Alberta Baroque Ensemble, this one to celebrate their 35th Anniversary. For this piece Paul and I decided to feature a long time member of the ensemble, and one of Edmonton’s finest musicians, Ronda Metzies.
Like the previous works I have written for the ABE, I wanted this piece to reflect the gestures and textures that are present in Baroque music while allowing myself the freedom to explore a variety of harmony.
The principal themes for the first two movements come from incidental music I wrote for the Citadel’s production of Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia in 2015. When I compose music for theatre the themes are quite short, 5-15 seconds, but often those themes are strong enough to be developed into full pieces. For movements one and two I developed the themes for two characters in the play, Thomasina and Septimus.
Thomasina is the heart of the play and begins as a precocious young girl. The lively theme you hear in Mvt. I was written with that mind. It also has alternating bars of 3/4/5 as she is also a math genius and the play refers to the Pythagorean theorem 3² + 4² = 5². The movement begins slowly with a minor chord progression that was very popular in the Baroque called “ la folia”.
Septimus is Thomasina’s teacher when Arcadia begins and eventually they fall in love. His theme reflects the music of the early romantic period, Schubert/Schumann, as that is the time they are living in.
Movement three is the most “Baroque” of the three movements. Originally when I began composing this cocerto I thought it might be a Baroque Dance Suite, the bourrée is the only movement that survived those early sketches.
A big thanks to Paul Scheiman for his continued support of my music and Ronda Metzies for being a wonderful collaborator and an incredible cellist.