The Winspear Fanfare
Instrumentation: 4 Hns., 3 Tpts., 3 Tbns., Tba, Timp., 2 Perc.
Composition Date: 1997
Commissioned: The Winspear Foundation
Premiered: September 13, 1997
The Winspear Fanfare was commissioned by the Winspear Foundation for the gala opening of the Francis Winspear Centre for Music.
My initial flash of inspiration was to not begin the piece in the typical fanfare style but instead to compose something freer that would exploit the great acoustics of Winspear. In May of 1997 I was giving a lecture in St Johns, Newfoundland and on one of my days off I visited Signal Hill, the location where Marconi transmitted the first Trans-Atlantic radio signal. I read that the first signal sent was the letter "S," which in Morse code is three dots. This inspired me to “signal” the opening of the Winspear with a three-note motive.
The work is divided into two sections. All the material in the first section, both harmonic and melodic, is derived from my “signal” motive and the brass are arranged to exploit the acoustics of the hall. The piece begins with a single trumpet and then adds players one by one creating a very thick and busy texture that resolves into section two.
This section begins with a short percussion solo that quotes Aaron Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man. The quote is an inside joke. When I was asked to compose this fanfare Bob McPhee, then CEO of the Winspear Centre, remarked, "just make it the Canadian version of Fanfare for the Common Man. Thanks Bob, no pressure there! The percussion solo leads to more typical fanfare gestures wrapping up with some flashy African inspired rhythms.