Canzona for the Music Makers (for chamber ensemble) was commissioned in 2013 by the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra (Christopher Warren-Green, Music Director) for the Northwest School of the Arts Chamber Ensemble (Erica Hefner, Orchestra Director). It is dedicated to the Northwest School of the Arts Chamber Ensemble and its director and was premiered by them in the spring of 2014. Approximately 5’ 30” in length, the title, Canzona for the Music Makers, is reflective of the late Renaissance/early Baroque compositions of the Venetian composer, Giovanni Gabrieli (ca.1554-1612). The distinctive “canzona” rhythm (long-short-short) is used as a primary structural element for the piece. A further influence of Gabrieli’s music is the presence of an antiphonal brass ensemble, which is heard during the opening and closing sections of the composition.
Reminiscent of the flexibility of Renaissance and early Baroque instrumental compositions, the instrumentation for this Charlotte, North Carolina-based arts school chamber ensemble is flexible and changes each year, reflecting availability. In that spirit, I chose to create this chamber composition for three SATB choirs of instrumental sound, thereby representing three families of orchestral color: Woodwind, string and brass. The percussion family, represented by one percussion player and four-hand piano, completes the four families of orchestral sound.
Four pitches (Eb, G, A, Bb) form the primary musical materials for the one-movement Canzona for the Music Makers. In four short sections, the piece begins with a fanfare-like opening that quickly builds to include all instruments of the ensemble. A dreamy, reflective second section follows. It is defined by woodwind solos supported by tapestries of sound from the strings, piano and marimba. The second section leads to the serene third section of the piece, which is defined by gentle dialogues between the strings and piano. The fourth and final section of Canzona for the Music Makers is joyous in spirit and rich in dialogues between all of the ensemble’s choirs of sound as it brings the piece to a resounding conclusion.
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
In performance, the antiphonal brass choir should be located at the rear of the performance space. On stage, the woodwind, percussion/piano and string choirs of sound should be grouped together, but separated from each other. Although the layout may be adjusted to each performance space, the preferred layout is: