Edge of the Sky

Year Composed: 2011
Instrumentation: fl, ob, cl, bsn, hn, perc, pno, 2 vln, vla, vcl, db
Duration 9 minutes

Program Notes

Prelude to Dawn derives its title and inspiration from the world of dreams and the unconscious state. In a dream, the mind weaves a narrative governed not by reason but by chaotic and irrational impulses, which draw imperfectly from references in 'reality,' motivating and shaping the content of the dream in bizarre ways. Yet it is these very impulses which resonate and form the basis of a coherent experience, one whose internal logic collapses only upon conscious awakening. In this piece, I have tried to capture some aspect of this mystery by creating defects in the work's underlying architecture. My attempts to flirt with the boundaries of coherence reflect my ongoing fascination with deeper structure and meaning.

The piece opens with a sparse, repeated pattern of notes on a single pitch (D), a stuttering thread reminiscent of an electronic signal like morse code. Initially monolithic, this string texture grows gradually to encompass all twelve pitches and instruments. It is then interrupted by a pair of ideas an off-kilter, folk-like dance in the winds, and a rhythmic motive comprised of perfect fifths. Both vanish as abruptly as they appear, only to reemerge in a later context, the former with increasing menace and the latter eventually elevating the piece towards its luminous conclusion.


  • June 28, 2011 - members of l'Orchestre de la Francophonie, comprised of: Janna Sailor, 1st violin; Aysel Taghi-Zada, 2nd violin; Woosol Cho, viola; Gabrielle Hamann-Guenette, cello; Andrew Lawrence, bass; Jeffrey Stonehouse, flute; Lindsay Roberts, oboe; Roxanne Leveille, clarinet; Gareth Thomas, bassoon; Micajah Strugess, horn; Mark Morton, percussion; Jean Desmarais, piano; conducted by Jean-Philippe Tremblay. Salle Southam Hall, National Arts Centre, Ottawa.
  • January 15, 2014 - Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser. Hilldale Lutheran Church, Thunder Bay.

Commisions and Awards

  • Composed for the National Arts Centre Summer Institute Composers Program, 2011.

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