2014 – for period instruments – 2 violins, viola da gamba, harpsichord – 12:00
World Premiere: April 12, 2014
Elyssa Lefurgey-Smith (violin)
Valerie Gordon (violin)
Justin Haynes (viola da gamba)
Sara-Anne Churchill (harpsichord)
The 4 movements of this composition are inspired by various chapters in the life of Laure Beauséjour, the protagonist in the novel, Bride of New France, by Canadian author, Suzanne Desrochers. The many and various hardships that Laure faced throughout her life stuck with me long after I finished reading this epic book. I felt compelled to transfer many of these emotions into music.
As this novel is set in 1670s France and New France, it seemed like a natural fit to utilize period instruments for the orchestration. My goal was to musically express the hardship and sadness faced in 4 different chapters of Laure’s life. While different subtle compositional techniques are used to differentiate the 4 movements, I purposely made all 4 movements quite similar to each other, specifically utilizing the same key (G minor), a slow tempo and a distinct sad melodic theme with simple, ambient accompaniment for each. I have always appreciated suites or sets of compositions that stay at the same pace and tone going from piece to piece, especially in Satie’s Gymnopédies or Gnossiennes collections.
1. Taken Away from Parents: Direct and militaristic in tone with melancholy melody. Melody: Violin 1. Duration: 3:40.
2. Life in the Salpêtrière: Uses an existing Gregorian Chant melody (Puer natus est nobis – A child is born to us). The text is a reverence to the Baby Jesus. This is a paradox to the harsh upbringing that Laure experienced at the Salpêtrière. Melody: Viola da Gamba. Duration: 1:45.
3. Boat to the New World: Inspired by the Barcarolle rhythm/waves of water against the boat. Melody: Harpsichord. Duration: 2:40.
4. First Winter in New France…Alone: The 2nd violin’s constant tremolo emulates Laure’s shivering. Melody: Violin 2. Duration: 3:50.
– Frank Horvat