commissionsTitle

Commissioning of New Works

Eight Songs to Poems by James Joyce by James Rolfe. Songs for vocal quartet, tenor and baritone duet, tenor solo, baritone solo, with piano. First performance on March 15, 2009, by Katherine Whyte, soprano, Lynne McMurtry, mezzo, Michael Colvin, tenor, Peter Barrett, baritone, and Stephen Ralls, piano. Commissioned with assistance from the Ontario Arts Council.

The Listeners by John Greer. Song for tenor voice and piano, setting the poem by Walter de la Mare. First performance on January 13, 2008, by Lawrence Wiliford, tenor and Stephen Ralls, piano.

The Death of Orpheus by Derek Holman. Song cycle for tenor voice and piano, setting translations from Ovid by Arthur Golding, linked by a Shakespeare sonnet. This work was commissioned with the assistance of the Laidlaw Foundation and received its first performance on March 13, 2005, by Colin Ainsworth, tenor and Stephen Ralls, piano.

Lament by Derek Holman. This song, commissioned by the Aldeburgh Connection, completed a cycle of three, setting poems by Shakespeare and Herrick and entitled A Lasting Spring (to Shelagh [Goldschmidt] in memory of Niki [Nicholas Goldschmidt]). The other two were premiered at a concert The Joy of Niki at Roy Thomson Hall in June 2004. The entire cycle, with this new song added, was performed in our concert series on December 5, 2004, by Colin Ainsworth, tenor and Stephen Ralls, piano.

Bruce’s Clavier-Book by Derek Holman. This set of character pieces pays homage to various friends and acquaintances, including such major contributors to the Canadian cultural scene as Greta Kraus, Nicholas Goldschmidt and Robertson Davies. Excerpts were first performed on May 2, 2010, by Bruce Ubukata, piano.

The Heart Mislaid by Derek Holman. Song cycle for tenor voice and piano, setting four poems by Douglas LePan. This work was commissioned with the assistance of the Laidlaw Foundation and received its first performance on April 28, 2002, by Colin Ainsworth, tenor and Stephen Ralls, piano.

Liebesleid-Lieder by John Greer. Suite of fifteen songs for vocal quartet and piano-duet, conceived as a modern answer to Brahms’s Liebeslieder-Walzer, looking at the foibles of love and romance. The settings are mostly of Dorothy Parker. This work was commissioned by the Aldeburgh Connection for its 20th anniversary gala concert and premiered on January 13, 2002, by Monica Whicher, soprano, Norine Burgess, mezzo, Benjamin Butterfield, tenor, Mark Pedrotti, baritone, and Stephen Ralls and Bruce Ubukata, piano.

The Toronto Songbook, a collection of five songs by five Toronto composers, premiered on April 30, 2000 as part of a concert entitled Toronto, a musical century. The individual songs are:

  • Venus and Pomona (Robert Finch) by Derek Holman. Poem from Double Tuning, published by Porcupine’s Quill, 1984; used with the kind permission of the Estate of Robert Finch. This work was commissioned with the assistance of Connie MacDougall and James MacDougall.
  • Blue Heron Near the Old-Mill Bridge (Raymond Souster) by Gary Kulesha. Poem from Collected Poems of Raymond Souster, by permission of Oberon Press. This work was commissioned with the assistance of Kenneth and Carol Anderson.
  • Brunswick Avenue (Dennis Lee) by Erik Ross. Poem from Civil Elegies and Other Poems, published by Anansi, 1972; used with the kind permission of the poet. This work was commissioned with the assistance of Anne Drozd.
  • Spinnaker (Richard Outram) by Roger Bergs. Poem from The Promise of Light, Anson-Cartwright Editions, Toronto, used with the kind permission of the poet. This work was commissioned with the assistance of Rosemary Kilbourn and Hilary Kilbourn, in memory of William Kilbourn, a Toronto historian and writer.
  • A Man and his Flute (Miriam Waddington) John Beckwith. Poem from The Last Landscape, Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1992, copyright © Miriam Waddington. This work was commissioned with the assistance of Martin and Judith Hunter.

Variations upon a melody by Doctor Arne for two pianos by Derek Holman, premiered on April 25, 1999 by Stephen Ralls and Bruce Ubukata at the concert The Lyre of Orpheus, which explored music in the life and work of Robertson Davies. The theme used in the work is the melody of Arne’s “Water parted”, from Artaxerxes, which makes an appearance in Davies’s novel A Mixture of Frailties. This work was commissioned with the assistance of the Ontario Arts Council.

Airs and Echoes Upon a Ground for two pianos by Derek Holman, premiered on February 1, 1998 by Stephen Ralls and Bruce Ubukata at a concert in memory of soprano Lois Marshall. This work was commissioned with the assistance of the Laidlaw Foundation.

Stacey, song-cycle/scena for soprano and piano by John Beckwith, settings of words by Margaret Laurence. Premiered on February 1, 1998 at the concert in memory of Lois Marshall by Monica Whicher, soprano, and Stephen Ralls, piano.

Allegory of Sweet Desire (after Agnolo Bronzino) by John Greer for soprano and piano, to texts by Greek and Latin poets, and inspired by the Bronzino painting. Premiered in a recital by soprano Adrianne Pieczonka with pianist Stephen Ralls, on March 9, 1998. Commissioned through a private donation.

Studies and Rambles of Wasagewanoqua by John Greer for soprano and piano. This cycle of seven songs was based on the writings of early the 19th century visitor to Ontario, Anna Jameson, and premiered by Monica Whicher, soprano, and Stephen Ralls (with Bruce Ubukata), piano, in the concert, Lady Blarney on March 3, 1996. Commissioned with the assistance of the Laidlaw Foundation.

The Magic Casement by Timothy Sullivan, song tableau for soprano, mezzo and two pianos. Premiered in the concert May Day Revels on May 1, 1994, by Kathleen Brett, soprano, Linda Maguire, mezzo, and Stephen Ralls and Bruce Ubukata, pianos.

Contrasts, by Derek Holman, cycle for four voices and piano-duet, a setting of five poems illustrating different aspects of the Canadian heritage. It was premiered in a concert All Around the Circle on May 3, 1992, by Nancy Hermiston, soprano, Catherine Robbin, mezzo, Martin Houtman, tenor, Erik Oland, baritone, and Stephen Ralls and Bruce Ubukata, piano. It was also performed in concerts given in Edinburgh, Glasgow and at the Aldeburgh Festival in June 1992. Commissioned with the assistance of the Canada Council for the Aldeburgh Connection’s tenth anniversary season.

The Owl and the Pussy Cat, by Harry Somers, a setting of the Edward Lear poem. Premiered at Young People’s Theatre Musical Mondays Series in February 1989 by Gaynor Jones, soprano, Norine Burgess, mezzo, Glyn Evans, tenor, and Bruce Ubukata, piano. Commissioned with the assistance of the Canada Council.

Nicholas Knock by Derek Holman, a setting of a children’s poem by Dennis Lee for treble, soprano, tenor and piano-duet. Premiered at Music at Sharon in 1988 by Jesse Clark, treble, Gaynor Jones, soprano, Glyn Evans, tenor, and Stephen Ralls and Bruce Ubukata, piano. Commissioned with the assistance of the Canada Council.

Our first commission, All Around the Circle – A Canadian Folksong Suite by John Greer for four voices and two pianos. Premiered in our Sunday Series on January 31, 1988, by Martha Collins, soprano, Gabrielle Prata, mezzo, Dennis Giesbrecht, tenor, Mark Pedrotti, baritone, and Stephen Ralls and Bruce Ubukata, pianos. It was also performed at the Aldeburgh Festival in June, 1988. The work was featured on our first CD The Aldeburgh Connection, by CBC Records, released in 1995.