In Search of Unicorns

Year Composed: 2004
Instrumentation: 2 vln, pno, 4 tbn, 2 perc, 2/4 taiko
Duration 11 minutes

Audio Excerpts (MP3)

Program Notes

The title "In Search of Unicorns" was lifted from the name of a single cue from John Williams' score to the 1972 Robert Altman film "Images". The film is about a woman who suffers from schizophrenia. Although I have never seen the film, I was intrigued by its subject matter and the musical possibilities that the title offered.

The piece opens with a three-note chromatic cell that is developed over the course of the work. The theme represents the protagonist's tormented search for the mythical creatures -- which, apart from being hallucinatory, also symbolize an ideal (tranquillity, mental clarity) that is unattainable. The protagonist struggles in vain to find peace amidst a chaotic barrage of churning thoughts, psychological demons, and false hopes. The work culminates in a fiery explosion of sound that violently ends the hallucination.


  • January (?), 2005 - University of Toronto, conducted by Gary Kulesha. Walter Hall, Faculty of Music, University of Toronto
  • April 16, 2005 - University of Toronto, conducted by Bill Rowson. Hart House Great Hall, University of Toronto
  • May 17, 2006 - Esprit Orchestra, conducted by Scott Good. DeLeon White Gallery, Toronto

© 2004-2006 All Rights Reserved | Designed by beyondFate