harp and orchestra

Commission: Erica Goodman with support from the Ontario Arts Council

Erica Goodman is recognized as the most prodigious Canadian harpist when it comes to the development of new music. Her assured approach to performing in many styles and her technical prowess are legendary. When she asked me to compose a concerto for her, I was happy and grateful to be able to write for her broad musical range.

I chose to write a work in five movements reflecting Erica’s diversity and incorporating a few of the characteristics that have shown up in much of my work over the years – namely, the piece includes floating music along with music influenced by harmonies and rhythms from the jazz and pop worlds.

The harp part in its entirety was composed first. In composing the orchestral parts, I decided to embrace and enhance the harp material rather than pit the orchestra against the harp as in normal concerto form. The flashy glissandi and arpeggios associated with much harp music have also been avoided. Instead, the player’s virtuosity is revealed in such things as the ability to achieve the tricky pedal changes needed to bring the piece off. The piece also tests the soloist’s mettle in terms of accuracy in rhythm and sensitivity of inflection.

Commissioned by Erica Goodman with the support of the Ontario Arts Council.