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CD Program Notes
The Hollywood Flute
Short Stories for Flutes, Harp, Percussion and String Orchestra
by Ronald Royer
Siren’s Song for alto flute (4:07)
Rather Blue for bass flute (optional for flute) (3:23)
The Chase for flute (2:55)
Child’s Play for piccolo (3:24)
Program Notes by the composer
Commissioned by Louise DiTullio for The Hollywood Flute CD Recording and Concerts,
Short Stories was composed to showcase the varied tone colors and techniques of the
alto flute, bass flute, flute and piccolo. During her career as a free-lance musician
in the studios of Los Angeles, Louise has regularly been asked to play these four
unique instruments. As well, Short Stories was designed to connect with the style
and programmatic content of the film music theme of The Hollywood Flute project.
Siren’s Song for alto flute was inspired by the many great scores for Film Noir movies.
The composer felt the hauntingly beautiful sound of the alto flute was a perfect fit for the
classic femme fatale character of this genre.
Rather Blue for bass flute was inspired by blues and jazz; two musical idioms commonly
found in film music. While the bass flute can be found in jazzy scores by composers like
Henry Mancini, it is unusual to find the instrument playing quite so many notes as found
in this challenging piece.
While the solo flute is usually not the featured instrument heard during dramatic
chase scenes, The Chase was composed to demonstrate that the flute can play with the
flair and virtuosity needed to create the tension required for effective ‘chase’ music.
Imagine a scene featuring a chase on foot through the narrow streets of a crowded city.
Child’s Play for piccolo was inspired by the qualities of magical imagination and
youthful enthusiasm commonly found in music associated with children in film. Louise
specifically requested that the movement for piccolo feature the less commonly used melodic aspect of the piccolo as well as the typical virtuosic side of the instrument.
Mark Payne, piano; Robert Riseling, clarinet; David Hayward, bassoon; Anne Thompson, flute
Divertimento - Paul Carr
Trio - Madeleine Dring
Four Panels from my Past - Allen Torok
In Memoriam Fryderyk Chopin for clarinet, bassoon and piano - Ronald Royer
Trio Breve Number One - John Burge
In Memoriam Fryderyk Chopin
In Memoriam Fryderyk Chopin is based upon and inspired by the Nocturne in E Minor, Op. 72, No. 1 for piano. In Memoriam serves as a reflection on the life, work and death of Chopin at the age of thirty-nine. After a short introduction, a meditative section features violin trills and a cadenza for clarinet followed by one for cello. A more rhythmic and energetic section follows which is meant to suggest his struggles in life and creativity. After a climactic section for the string orchestra, a more peaceful section shines through representing the beauty, joy and genius of Chopin’s legacy.
The Fantaisie-Impromptu is a fantasy based upon the Impromptu No.3 in G flat Major, Op. 51 by Fryderyk Chopin, and strives to maintain the light-hearted spontaneity of the original. Fantaisie Impromptu is in a Rondo form (ABACA), with an introduction and coda section. The main melody (Asection) makes use of the notes of Chopin’s main melody (with minor alterations), but changes Chopin’s rhythm and harmony to give the music a more 20th century feel. The contrasting B Section is based upon a motive from the original Chopin melody while the C section is based on still another part of Chopin’s composition. In the C section, the composer inserts one melody of his own, a Bartok-like folk melody. The composition ends with an energetic coda, complete with a slight variation of Chopin’s own ending to his Impromptu.
The Nocturne for clarinet and string orchestra is not based on an original Chopin composition, but is instead inspired by Chopin’s music aesthetic and works as a whole. The introduction of the Nocturne, beginning on the note “E”, gradually thickens harmonically, using suspensions, while the clarinet introduces a motive that evolves into the first theme. The second theme is started in the lower register of the clarinet and then developed. At the end, a short clarinet cadenza brings back material from the first theme.
Overture to an Unscripted Movie
An Overture to an Unscripted Movie was composed to pay homage to the orchestral scores written for Hollywood action/adventure films. The Overture is in four sections: The Hero, The Villain, The Love Theme, and The Fight. Since the Overture was written for an unscripted movie, the composer encourages both performers and audience members to create their own movie plots.
To write this composition, Mr. Royer drew on his extensive work as a freelance cellist in the Motion Picture and Television Industry in Los Angeles during the 1980’s. Some of the films he worked on are: Star Trek 3 and 4, Lethal Weapon, Footloose, Gremlins, Children of a Lesser God, and television shows such as Little House on the Prairie, Dallas, and Fantasy Island. He had the opportunity to play under many of the top film composers including Jerry Goldsmith, James Horner, Maurice Jarre, Henry Mancini, and John Williams.
Music of a Life So Far...
A Short Odyssey (program notes by Simon Fryer)
Ron and I were both cellists beginning to make careers in Toronto when we met in 1989. As time went on he decided that composition was where his voice really lay and he enrolled at the University of Toronto. His thesis for his Master of Music degree was (perhaps not surprisingly) a cello concerto. Journey piqued my interest quite markedly and was accompanied by an equally engaging shorter version for cello and piano: A Short Odyssey. The compression of Journey into A Short Odyssey condenses the concerto into a finely balanced concert piece without losing any of the original’s drive and character. The musical environment is essentially tonal but Ron employs aspects of serial technique to create a quite individual language. There is an accessibility and attractiveness to the music (perhaps a latent influence from Ron’s years in the LA studios?) that I find irresistible. I have given several performances of Journey including the Canadian premiere, and have been overwhelmed by the positive reaction from audiences and orchestras alike. Being a cellist himself Ron has been able to judge very capably how the cello can best bring his music to life and has produced works of great verve with a rewarding capacity for expressiveness on the part of the performer.
Ron quotes Christina Georgina Rossetti’s poem Up-Hill on the title page of Journey—it is undoubtedly just as appropriate for A Short Odyssey:
Does the road wind up-hill all the way?
Yes, to the very end.
Will the day’s journey take the whole long day?
From morn to night, my friend.
The Nightingale's Rhapsody
Romance for Clarinet, String Orchestra, Piano and Harp
The Romance for Clarinet, String Orchestra, Piano and Harp was rewritten in the fall of 2004 for clarinetist Jerome Summers based on a previously composed orchestral piece called Cinema, which had been written the previous winter. Cinema was commissioned for a special 40th anniversary concert to celebrate the foundation of the Hamilton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and Dr. Glenn Mallory’s directorship. I had asked Glenn to describe his dream composition for this project. After some thought, Glenn said he would love a piece featuring a beautiful romantic melody.
Today, one of the fields of musical composition that most highly values sweeping romantic melody is music for film. Having worked in Los Angeles for the motion picture and television industry during the 1980’s, I decided to draw on this experience to compose Cinema. Combining both American and European influences, Cinema and therefore Romance was written in two sections. In this version called Romance, the opening section has a “Magical” atmosphere created by the strings, piano and harp against a more improvisatory and melodic clarinet part ending with a solo clarinet cadenza. In the second section, the main romantic melody is first heard in the clarinet. This section also includes a darker “film noir” melody featuring a solo violin and cello with the clarinet. Romance ends as it began, quietly and calmly.
Romance was first performed by clarinetist Jerome Summers and the Toronto Sinfonietta conducted by Ronald Royer at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto on January 23, 2005.
Rhapsody for Clarinet, String Orchestra and Percussion
The Rhapsody for Clarinet and String Orchestra was created to showcase various musical and technical features of a solo clarinet while being supported by a string orchestra and percussion. I chose the form of a rhapsody because I felt it would give me the ability to show off the clarinet's flexibility while also allowing me to have some fun composing a piece with a variety of musical styles and moods.
In the 19th-century, the rhapsody became a highly emotional and free musical form with large changes of moods connected to Hungarian or gypsy violin playing. The height of this trend can be found in the 19 Hungarian Rhapsodies of Liszt (1846-85). In the 20th-century, Bartok, Enescu and Ravel are some notable examples of European composers writing rhapsodies in this same trend. As well, it is important to note that Debussy wrote the wonderful Premiere Rhapsodie for clarinet and piano for the Paris Conservatoire in 1910 to feature the player's technical ability for its end-of -year wind instrument examinations. In my Rhapsody, I have tried to pay tribute to this excellent collection of rhapsodies while also adding some other musical influences, including some rhapsodies by the Argentinean composer Alberto Ginastera.
In three continuous sections, the Rhapsody starts with a slow mysterious mood that introduces the main musical motives and melodies of the composition. Next, the tempo increases while the music becomes more tender and flowing, ending with solo clarinet cadenzas. The final section is a fast paced virtuoso rondo including Hungarian, Latin American and various other musical elements to complete the clarinetist's musical workout. The Rhapsody was commissioned and first performed by clarinetist Jerome Summers accompanied by conductor Stephane LaForest and Orchestra London (Ontario, Canada) on November 2, 2005.