Winter Rites (2008)

To rent, order here

completed 12 January 2008, Banff, Canada; world-premiere 13 March 2008, Clapp Recital Hall, University of Iowa, CNM

I. Oak and Feather (excerpt)

II. Solstice (excerpt)

III. Birth of the New Sun (excerpt)

Winter Rites (2008) was written during a 2007 – 2008 winter residency in the Leighton Studios at the Banff Arts Centre, in Alberta, Canada.  All of the melodic and harmonic material of the work is derived from a single melodic cell, heard in its entirety only in the middle movement in the solo cello part.  Each movement receives its title from a Druid ritual performed during the festival of mid-winter. The three-movement work is performed without pause.  The work was commissioned for Caryl Gompper by her husband Carl and son David.

Below is a poem inspired by Winter Rites, written by Robin Chapman (reproduced here with permission of the author). They are representative not only of the music, but of our time together in the Leighton Studios.

I. Oak and feather

Every turn of branch in dark of year,

Oak leaves hold on;

Feather of cloud, feather of ragged snowflake edge

Feather of breath in air –

Persist, and the shape emerges, condenses,


II. Solstice

Damp warmth of fleece

At the Arts dinner table, plates

Of root vegetables, slices of lamb,

Apple juice and chocolate mousse,

Feet stomping in the doorway,

More people pouring in,

Raucous talk rising in the energy wheel,

Laughter our common language.

III. The Birth of the Sun

A month since it began rising earlier –

Its crossing in the mountain stretches now

From nine to two, Rundle to Sulphur,

Enough time to write the last minute of music

To welcome our orbit’s return

And still light enough to climb Sulphur

And survey your rocky winter world

Before coming down

To orchestrate and engrave notes

For the Winter Rites’ Moscow premiere.