In Chilliwack by the Fraser River

Observing More Rivers

Lisa and I just spent a wonderful week outside the city of Chilliwack. It’s a 90-minute bus ride east of Vancouver. We gave ourselves this secluded work retreat following an amazing eventful week in Vancouver. We rented an AirBnB overlooking the mighty Fraser River and a beautiful mountain range.

In Chilliwack by the Fraser River

In Chilliwack by the Fraser River

It was important for us to observe the Fraser in preparation for my commission from celebrated pianist and Order of Canada recipient, Christina Petrowska Quilico. Christina has commissioned me to compose a new suite of solo piano pieces called More Rivers.

The Fraser is the longest river within Canada’s province of British Columbia. It is the 11th longest river in Canada. There was this hypnotic constant flow of water surrounded by cathedral-like trees. We saw so many majestic bald eagles…too many to count.

Christina and I share a passion for the environment. More Rivers will be constructed with overlapping looping textures evoking the flow of water. Water is intrinsic to life. As living beings on this planet, it is one of our most important resources that requires our full respect and protection.

For me, the flow of water also conveys a spiritual sentiment. Being immersed within it or just in its presence provides a healing meditative calm.

More Rivers is inspired by these two sentiments. My hope is that listeners of this collection will share these two visions, in varying states of consciousness, as they immerse themselves in the wall of sound emanating from the piano.

This work is dedicated to the spirit of Ann Southam and her seminal work, Rivers. Ms. Southam’s work in the area of minimalist composition has been a big influence on my life. In the past, I have had the chance to perform some of her Rivers pieces, surrounded by my own compositions in the programme, at my solo piano concerts. I feel like there is a sort of musical and spiritual lineage there. All this being said, More Rivers is not intended to be a sequel or continuation of Rivers, but my hope is that my own unique musical minimalist voice will be a tribute to this body of work that has impacted me so profoundly.

It is a tremendous honour to be commissioned by Christina to compose More Rivers. To work with such a stellar performer and the person who worked with Ann directly, to bring to life the original Rivers, means the world to me.

Many thanks to the Canada Council for the Arts for funding this commission.

After I compose the suite, Christina will record an album of these pieces. Stay tuned to my social media channels, my blog posts and my e-newsletter for updates on our progress.

I feel so grateful to have enjoyed this pristine nature while here in BC. It’s reminded me how important it is to protect our planet’s fragile ecosystem. I don’t want our plane trip there and back to be part of the problem. That’s why I just purchased Gold Standard Carbon Offsets courtesy of Less.

I also acknowledge that I was honoured to stay on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Stó:lō Coast Salish peoples.

More Rivers with Christina Petrowska Quilico and composer Frank Horvat

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply