Anders Dahlberg is one of my oldest friends and musical colleagues. In 2010, he asked me to write a piece for three basses, for him to perform with two of his students at Kalamazoo College. The premiere took place in November, 2011.
I liked the idea of honouring our misspent youth, which included playing and writing rock music together. After some thought, I settled on the idea of using themes from Pink Floyd’s song “Wish You Were Here” as source material. We happily kicked musical ideas back and forth, and over time, the piece took shape. The title was suggested by Anders, after the famous painting by Salvador Dali.
It has to be said that “Persistence of Memory” doesn’t sound a lot like Pink Floyd. As such, I don’t think Roger Waters or David Gilmour can reasonably expect to share in the vast fortune this piece is sure to generate.
In 2009, the Dalai Lama visited Calgary, and I was fortunate to hear him speak. I was struck by his conviction that all conflicts, large and small, can be resolved peacefully when individuals approach one another from a position of compassionate understanding.
Compassion is a musical representation of that idea.
for string quartet (6:30) or string orchestra (6:30)
This piece is dedicated to the memory of Jack (1980? – 1996), a snaggle-toothed feline who came to stay with the Fenwick family for a night and lingered for many years.
Much of Black Jacques’ thematic material was plundered from two well-known songs: “Frere Jacques” and “Hit the Road, Jack”, which (by coincidence) shares a bass line with “The Cat Came Back” and “Stray Cat Strut”.
The version for string quartet was premiered by the Sunrise String Quartet in 1999. It has since been performed in Cranbrook, BC, Saskatoon, SK, and by Land’s End Chamber Ensemble during their three Noche de Brujas cabaret performances at the Beat Niq Jazz and Social Club in Calgary in October, 2007.
The version for string orchestra was premiered by the Calgary Chamber Players under the skillful direction of Chris Sandvoss late in 1999, or maybe early in 2000 (I was there, but now I forget which). It has also been performed in Regina, SK.
I know, you’re thinking that Jack gets around, but there’s more…
The third version of Black Jacques, for full orchestra, was commissioned by Edmond Agopian, and was completed with the generous support of the Rozsa Foundation. Mr. Agopian led the Calgary Youth Orchestra in the premiere of the full orchestral version on April 22, 2012, at Calgary’s Leacock Theatre.
The Calgary Youth Orchestra will perform the piece four times during its August, 2012 tour of France: at La Madeline, in Paris; the Cryptoportique Gardens in Reims; Isigny-sur-mer; and during the Semaine Acadienne festival in St-Aubin-sur-mer.
for electric violin, cello, alto saxophone, synthesizer, piano, percussion (7:00)
The Benevolent Predator was hatched in 2002 especially for the Land’s End Chamber Ensemble. He… or she… was unleashed during the group’s cabaret at Calgary’s Beat Niq Jazz and Social Club, in March of that year. Her distinctive call was heard again in November 2006, at Art Central.
The Predator is quick to tip her… or his… beastly hat towards progressive rock stalwarts King Crimson and Eddie Jobson (who gleefully wielded a semi-transparent electric fiddle, back in the day), and shows signs of having devoured other, more well-mannered musical luminaries.