string quartet and orchestra

The Oro is a national dance of the Balkans in which the dancers form a circle and hold hands. These dances exhibit a wide range of local features including many different tempi, modes, rhythms and colours. There is a great amount of variation from region to region; in fact, some oros do not even have melodies but are distinguished only by their circular shape and by the synchronized rhythms of the dancer’s jumps.

Although my work for string quartet and orchestra does not quote directly from these dances, it is inspired by them. The work consist of three movements (moderate, slow, fast) that follow each other without pause. During the course of the work the quartet separates itself from the orchestra, very much in the manner that talented dancers will take the lead and invite others to follow their example. I have, above, tried to capture the modes, rhythms, and spirit of different types of oros. My fascination with them stems from their elegance, from the joy that radiates from the music and the dancers, and from their perfect aural and visual synchronization.

Oro was composed in 2001 for the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.