Work

Movements

  • 1. Swainson’s Thrush
  • 2. Hermit Thrush
  • 3. Wood Thrush
  • 4. Veery

Performances

Program Notes

This piece has an unusual origin. Years ago, in order to leave my home on the west coast of Canada to study composition in Europe, I raised money for my travel by selling as-yet unwritten bars of music to everyone I’d ever met. The result was a huge commission from over sixty friends, family, and community members. In 2011, with the help of the Quatuor Bozzini, I finally made good on my promise and created the piece Warblework.

Each of Warblework ’s four movements (warble = chirp) is based on birdsong — in particular of four thrushes (Swainson’s thrush, hermit thrush, wood thrush, veery thrush) — whose songs follow the harmonic series. When this birdsong is slowed down, they reveal incredibly human-like melodies. These four movements therefore put forth a sort of poem of the regional sounds from the Pacific Coast and its forests. While the thrushes move through the harmonic series, a tune in slow motion reveals melodies accented in folk and old jazz standard traditions.