Aurora Dances (2000/10)
symphony orchestra (revised in 2010)
For the Vancouver SymphonyFunding to attend the premiere performances was provided by the Canada Council
Instrumentation2 Flutes (2nd doubles piccolo)
2 Bassoons (2nd doubles contra)
2 Horns in F
2 Trumpets in Bb
1 Percussion *
* Percussion2 Almglocken (Cow Bells)
1 Snare Drum
1 Suspended Cymbal
5 Temple Blocks
Aurora Dances was composed for the Vancouver Symphony in 2000. This work uses large-scale harmonic motions derived through linear, conjunct movement of individual voices within chords. That is to say, chords change gradually as one or two notes in the chord shift to a new pitch. Tall chords – 9ths, 11ths & 13ths – as well as quartal and quintal harmonies – stacks of 4ths and 5ths – predominate the texture. Although the idea and title of this piece is the Aurora Borealis it is not really meant to be programmatic by means of depicting specific events musically. Structurally, however, these slowly shifting harmonies are meant to mimic the aurora. And perhaps the overall feeling of the piece might evoke the Northern Lights.
Aurora Dances has been completely revised and updated as of May, 2010. This new version is (1) for a smaller and more practical orchestra and (2) has been reworked slightly, both harmonically and more important, structurally. Overall the work flows better. Three minutes of music were ultimately removed, and several ideas were completely reworked. The work is essentially the same, but hopefully flows better and is structurally more consistent.
A big thanks goes to composer Rodney Sharman who made the initial work possible. He also persuaded the Vancouver Symphony to perform it, and helped with some of the technical aspects.