Instrumentation: Solo Clarinet, Harp and Strings

Composed: 2011

Commissioned by Catherine Wood and the Brandon Chamber Players with support from the Manitoba Arts Council

Premiere: Lorne Watson Recital Hall

Program Note:

Winter Moon Winter Sun was written in the winter of 2011. Living in Manitoba, where we can easily get more than four months of snow and cold, the beauty of the season can sometimes wear thin. So for more than a decade now, my wife and I have been going south for at least a week, to help warm up our bones. Travelling across the prairie at night or walking outside when the moon is up can be a magical experience, with the white light reflecting off the pure snow. It’s an ethereal beauty. But when you leave -30° celsius and arrive in the Caribbean to +30° it’s easy to understand why dancing is such an important part of Latino culture.

The long melodic lines at the opening of Winter Moon Winter Sun alternate with a strongly syncopated idea. Together they represent the “moon” side of this equation. The “sun” comes out at around the half way mark of the piece, with the introduction of a guaguancó (rumba) rhythm, which makes reference to Cuban composer Guido López Gavilán’s wonderful Camerata en guaguancó. It was the first piece of Cuban music I heard on my first warm weather vacation. It provides a nice foil for the clarinet to develop some of its material into a cadenza-like section.

Every warm weather vacation has to come to an end, so the opening “moon” music returns to give us one more glimpse of the snow covered landscape, but this time we are a bit more invigorated – ready to last out the final weeks of cold, with a little more fire inside.