at least, not without a wedding.


The new season starts at the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra  this Saturday, September 24, with something relatively new and blue, if not borrowed – my piece Oiseaux bleus et sauvages, which was my first VSO piece and my first real piece of music for orchestra. (Excerpt below includes a bit of bassoon solo, in a rather more moderate range than the extreme “I am not an English Horn” register found at the opening of the Stravinsky. Just saying.) Also, its name was almost “Speckled Egg.” I’ll explain what happened at the concert.

WILD BLUEBIRDS (sans Speckled Eggs)


The bulk of this rather thrilling concert is devoted to a pair of phenomenal Russian composers, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (his first PIano Concerto) and Igor Stravinsky (The Rite of Spring) – both of whom borrowed Slavic folk songs (Lithuanian and Ukrainian, even) for their tunes, although Stravinsky tended to deny it.

Flora, fauna, or dudki (reed pipes), The Rite of Spring – Pictures of Pagan Russia in Two Parts is based on ancient spring rituals as studied by Stravinsky’s collaborator, Nikolai Roerich. [Richard Taruskin goes into great detail about his musical and cultural borrowings in his two-volume Stravinsky and the Russian Traditions. Fun to read, if you have time.]

These may be dudki, or wild birds, but they’re not English Horns (well, not until later)


Stravinsky did admit to his fascinating depiction of nature within the Rite of Spring: as he says in Expositions and Developments, “My idea was that the Prelude should represent the awakening of nature, the scratching, gnawing, wiggling of birds and beasts.” !!!