String Quartet

Year Composed: 2005
Instrumentation: 2 violins, viola, cello
Duration 19 minutes

I. Lento
II. Andante
III. Allegro
IV. Andante
V. Allegro

Audio Excerpts (MP3)

Program Notes

My String Quartet is cast in five movements. Each contains seeds of musical ideas that are further developed or revealed in the next movement (the last movement unveils the complete, final 'image'.) The first movement depicts a frozen world of static chords and gloomy, near-lifeless chromatic movement. A tentative chorale emerges amidst its more dissonant surroundings. The second movement clarifies the ideas of the first with a greater sense of urgency and tension. The third movement furthers this sense of clarity with the introduction of a five-note theme (based on the chromatic neighbour-note motion of the first two movements). The chorale is similarly 'unmasked', surfacing from behind the scenes to claim the movement's conclusion. The fourth movement, which forms the heart of the piece, unfolds over a single pedal point (held for almost five minutes), on top of which deeply passionate utterances are heard. The chorale is then heard in its purest form -- a triadic hymn in C-major. In the final movement, previously developed ideas engage in a climactic dance of ecstasy and despair.


  • January 28, 2006 - Canadian Composers' Quartet, conducted by Scott Good. St. Thomas's Anglican Church, Toronto
  • February 3, 2007 - Alexa Wilks, violin; Mark Johnston, violin; Eve Tang, viola; Sarah Steeves, cello. Walter Hall, Faculty of Music, University of Toronto
  • May 15, 2007 - Cecilia String Quartet, Victoria Chapel, University of Toronto
  • April 3, 2008 - Cecilia String Quartet, Jane Mallet Theatre; Music Toronto, St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, Toronto.
  • July 16, 2008 - Cecilia String Quartet, Brighten Gardens; Austin Chamber Music Festival, Austin, Texas.
  • July 27, 2008 - Cecilia String Quartet, Sirius Stage; Harbourfront Centre, Toronto.

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