Thirty Minutes of a 3 Million…

… Minute Journey

2016 – for clarinet and piano – 30:00

Sheet Music

Score (pdf)
Clarinet Part (pdf)

  1. Thirty Minutes of a Three Million Minute Journey (live) Michael Westwood (clarinet), Gregory Millar (piano) 30:47


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World Premiere: April 8, 2016, St. Andrew’s Church, Toronto
Michael Westwood (clarinet)
Gregory Millar (piano)

Other Performances:
August 12, 2016, House of the Blackheads, Tallinn, Estonia (more details)
Michael Westwood (clarinet)
Marc Pierre Toth (piano)

Programme Notes

As Canadians, we have been impacted by news reports about the plight of so many who are currently displaced around the globe. Individuals and families, who have had to flee their homes, their lives, due to war, persecution or intense poverty. Most of us cannot fathom what desperate situations make you leave everything you’ve ever known for the uncertainty of a marathon journey that has seemingly no defined end.

The plight of the Syrian refugees is the latest in this global displacement. There are Syrians right now who are embarking on the first thirty minutes of their journey while others are heading towards their millionth minute. We hope as Canadians that many of them will continue their journey and find a new safe haven in our country. As a diverse country, there are already thousands of untold stories of Canadians who were once refugees themselves, who are about to or have completed this journey that takes years and millions of minutes to find a new home and begin to feel alive and thrive again. For them and for the people who will soon enter our country and for all Canadians of all backgrounds, we want this piece to strike a lasting emotional chord, one that leads to changed mindsets and helps put a positive end to these unbelievable journeys.

Can we truly understand what this journey is like? No. But, Thirty Minutes of a Three Million Minute Journey aims to take us to that emotional state, to feel what a mere thirty minutes is like in someone else’s shoes. This thirty-minute composition will depict the drudgery, the grief of migrants fleeing war and prosecution. A journey like this has peaks and valleys but this piece will exemplify the everyday of this long experience, the walking pace of their travel and the deep underlying emotions that haunt them as they try to take the next step forward. The audience will leave with an emotionally drained feeling after just thirty minutes, unable to fathom how anybody can actually complete this whole seemingly never-ending journey and hopefully with a new appreciation of what so many new Canadians have had to go through to get here. In this world of sound bites, this piece is a chance to immerse ourselves deeply.

– Frank Horvat

Notes for Performers

To help better express the nature of the programme, it is suggested that the pianist listen to, and strictly follow, a metronome at the indicated tempo with an ear piece as they perform this work. It would be preferred if the clarinetist sit for a live performance, but if standing is a must, please refrain from any superfluous physical movements.

Commissioned by Michael Westwood.


  1. Can monotonous music be interesting? - Frank Horvat - April 5, 2016

    […] is the musical dilemma I placed myself in when I started composing Thirty Minutes of a Three Million Minute Journey. The piece attempts to encapsulate the experience of Syrian refugees walking from their war-ravaged […]

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