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A Canadian Symphony / Une Symphonie canadienne (Symphony no. 2)

"This is the first time I’ve tried to compose music that was heavily descriptive. It is in five movements, each one representing a region of the country as I came to know it – either through visits or from pictures and film. I hope it renders the love I feel for my homeland. I honestly believe that no art can come close to describing the profound beauty of this vast country, and I only humbly offer this symphony as an expression of my own love for Canada - a land of such varied colours and moods that an artist can not help but be inspired by its beauty.
This symphony is dedicated with love and friendship to Alan Belkin who helped me to achieve the tools and craftsmanship necessary to put my vision to paper." M.R.E.


1 – “Forêts Boréales /
Northern Forests
            "Ton histoire est une épopée
            des plus brilliants exploits..."
                       from O Canada by Sir Adolphe-Basile Routhier

Inspired by a stop-over near Mount Apica in the Laurentian National Park and by memories of driving through northern Ontario on a cross-Canada road  trip, this movement tries to express the depth and warmth of the great northern forests that stretch across so much of northern Québec and Ontario. Horn and trumpet fanfares present the opening of the symphony, and a stately main theme is played by the violas and celli. Gradually the rest of the orchestra joins in. A lone clarinet, lost in the woods, sings the second theme over gently swaying strings, harp, and gentle chirping from the flute. The development section follows, with thematic material – both lyrical and fanfare – making the rounds of the different sections of the orchestra, before the main theme returns one last time in an orchestral tutti.

2 – “Prairies” (Dawn, The Harvesters, Sunset)
            "O Canada! Where pines and maples grow.
            Great prairies spread and lordly rivers flow..."
                       from O Canada by Stanley Weir

Softly, muted strings rock back and forth, as a cor-anglais solo gently welcomes the sunrise with a plaintif melody. Wheat fields ripple like the ocean as far as the eye can see and reflect the fresh new sunlight. The gold and green vastness of the prairie is just a hint of eternity. In the distance, harvesting machinery rumbles, coming gradually closer, getting louder and louder, and passes us by. The sun passes overhead and sets, melting into the endless horizon, and dusk reveals a twinkle of stars and one more glimpse of eternity as the sky seems to reflect the earth.

3 – “Maritimes" (Waves and shoreline)
            "And yonder between cape and shoal,
            Where the long currents swing and shift..."
                       from At the Ferry by Archibald Lampman

Scampering strings and flurries of woodwinds and brass see us flying over the waves as we approach each Maritime province in turn. Motifs built from excerpts of music associated with each region accompany each stop-over (Insula Beata "The Island Hymn", Farewell to Nova Scotia, Ode To Newfoundland, Ave Maris Stella, and fragments of O Canada) in a whirlwind rondo. I tried to capture what I felt was the vibrant and varied personality of the Maritimes.

4 – “Pacific Interlude” (Mist and mountains)
            "From out the west, where darkling storm-clouds float,
           The 'waking wind pipes soft its rising note."
                       from Rainfall by Emily Pauline Johnston

Gently swaying strings create a mist, out of which gradually emerges bird calls and distant winds. As the mist clears, at first from afar, and then ever closer, the majestic the Rocky Mountains break through and dominate the sky.

5 – “Northern Variations”
            "That Spirit we worship who walks unseen
            Through our land of ice and snow..."
                       from The Arctic Indian's Faith by Thomas D'Arcy McGee

A boisterous rhythmic theme leads into a series of variations:
    Variation 1 - «Tundra»
    Variation 2 - «Little Paws»
    Variation 3 - «The Great Whale»
    Variation 4 - «Inuksuk»
    Variation 5 - «The North Wind»
    Variation 6 - «Sunrise / Spring»