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Robert Aitken, artistic director

Maritime Miniatures

Tuesday January 20, 2015 at Jane Mallett Theatre
Barbara Pritchard solo piano
Co-production with Music Toronto - Concert 8:00
Jane Mallett Theatre, 27 Front St. E. (St. Lawrence Centre) [MAP]
Reservations: 416.366.7723

Pianist Barbara Pritchard in a concert of Atlantic composers with variations on Bach's Goldberg Aria.


Alwynne Pritchard (UK 1968) - Mesarch (1998)
Anthony Genge (Canada 1952) - History and Memory (2012)
Daryl Jamieson (Canada 1980) - mountain/cherry/blossoms (2012)
J.S. Bach (Germany 1685-1750) - Aria from the Goldberg Variations (1741)
Clark Ross (Venezuela/Canada 1957) - Broken Glass (1991)
Anthony Genge - Variation (1995)
W. L. Altman (Canada 1959) - Utter Variation (2005)
Jérôme Blais (Canada 1965) - Inventio (2005)
Ian Crutchley (Canada 1965) - Opening and Variations (2005)
Richard Gibson (Canada 1953) - 24 Notes… (2005)
Robert Bauer (Canada 1950) - (Dis-) Integration Variation (2011)
David Litke (Canada 1977) - Goldbird (2011)
Michael Parker (Canada 1948) - Refug(u)e (2013)
Dennis Farrell (Canada 1940) - Quodlibet and Lullaby (2004)


Barbara Pritchard lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where she works as a freelance pianist.  Her solo career is focused on the interpretation of music from the 20th and 21st centuries.  As a chamber musician and accompanist she plays Baroque sonatas,  modern musical theatre numbers, and almost everything else in between. Ms Pritchard was born in Edmonton, Alberta and grew up in British Columbia, living first in Vernon and later in Vancouver.  She attended the University of British Columbia where she studied with Robert Rogers.  Subsequently she attended Ljungskile Folkhögskola in Sweden, and the Banff Centre in Canada.  Her time at Banff led her to graduate studies at the Eastman School of Music with David Burge. In 1988 Ms Pritchard moved to Toronto where she performed with the New Music Concerts,  Arraymusic and Continuum ensembles, at venues such as the Glenn Gould Studio and the Music Gallery.  She also established herself as a soloist, giving recitals often recorded by the CBC for Two New Hours.  She traveled to Sweden twice for solo performances and was heard in broadcast on Swedish Radio.  For several years she was also a faculty member in the Banff Centre's Summer New Music Residency program.

In 1998 Barbara Pritchard moved to Halifax where she has established herself as a soloist, chamber musician, accompanist and concert presenter.  She has often appeared in concert for her own series of solo piano recitals at Saint Mary's University Art Gallery, as well as for the schools of music at Dalhousie University, Mount Allison University, Acadia University, the Memorial University of Newfoundland, and l'Université de Moncton.  She has played for Vocalypse and Kumquat  in Halifax, and for Music at the Three Churches  in Mahone Bay, NS.  When not playing as a soloist, Ms Pritchard works as a studio accompanist at the Dalhousie University Department of Music, where she has also given courses in 20th century piano repertoire. In 2009 the Canadian Music Centre awarded Ms Pritchard the title of CMC Ambassador, a designation given to fifty outstanding performers and conductors for their commitment to the performance of Canadian music.  Subsequent to this, in 2012, Ms Pritchard joined with composers Robert Bauer and Michael Parker to form a new music series in Halifax, Musikon.  This series is dedicated to the presentation of new Canadian music in the context of the artwork on display at Saint Mary's University Art Gallery. Barbara Pritchard's first solo CD, The View From Here (Centrediscs), was released in 1998 and her second, Piano Atlantica (Centrediscs), in 2010.   The final track from Piano Atlantica, Clark Ross’s Last Dance, was nominated for a 2011 Juno Award: Classical Composition of the Year.   In 2012 , Ms Pritchard released Toccata (Centrediscs), a CD of piano solos by Barbara Pentland, as part of a nation-wide celebration of the composer's centennial. Toccata has been nominated for a 2014 East Coast Music Award: Classical Recording of the Year.

Barbara Pritchard is a member of the Canadian Music Centre, the Canadian New Music Network and the Canadian Federation of Musicians.  She lives in Halifax with her husband, daughters and a couple of cats.


Mesarch (1998)

History and Memory (2012-13)

mountain / cherry / blossoms (2012)

From ‘Variations’:

CLARK ROSS (b. 1957): Broken Glass (1991)

ANTHONY GENGE (b. 1952): Variation for Piano (1995)

WL ALTMAN (b. 1959): Utter Variation (2005)

JÉRÔME BLAIS (b. 1965): Inventio (2005)

IAN CRUTCHLEY (b. 1965): Opening and Variations (2005)

RICHARD GIBSON (b. 1953): Twenty-four Notes… (2005)
ROBERT BAUER (b. 1950): (Dis-) Integration Variation (2011)

DAVID LITKE (b. 1977): Goldbird (2011)

MICHAEL PARKER (b. 1948): Refug(u)e, Op. 64 (2014)

DENNIS FARRELL (b. 1940): 'Quodlibet' (Lat.: a 'what-cha-ma'-call-it') & Exit-Lullaby (2004)

Mesarch (1998)

Alwynne Pritchard
is an artist, performer and composer. She studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London and has a PhD from the University of Bristol. Her teachers included Michael Finnissy (composition) and Linda Hirst (voice). From 2008 and until March 2014, Alwynne was Artistic Director of the Borealis festival in Bergen, Norway and from 2001 until 2008, she taught composition at Trinity College of Music in London. Alwynne also worked for many years as a freelance writer and presenter for BBC Radio 3.

Alwynne Pritchard writes:
“Mesarch was composed as a musical response to the work of visual artists James Hugonin and Sarah Bray. The title of the piece describes the structure of plants in which the first-formed xylem (the tissue that conducts vital elements from the roots to all other parts of the plant) is surrounded by that formed later - as in fern stems. Mesarch, although still a stand-alone piece, was also later incorporated into another work, forming the second movement of the more extended piano piece Der Zwerg.”

History and Memory (2012-13)

Born in Vancouver in 1952, composer Anthony Genge studied composition with the American composer Morton Feldman, and received his Ph.D. in composition in 1985. He also studied composition at McGill University, at the University of Victoria and with the Japanese composer Jo Kondo in Tokyo. Genge’s music is characterized by its distinctive harmonic language, elegant orchestration and postmodern mix of musical elements. Genge also maintains an active career as one of Canada’s leading jazz pianists.  Currently, he divides his time between Victoria, B.C., and Antigonish, Nova Scotia, where he is Professor of Music at St. Francis Xavier University.

 Anthony Genge writes:
“History and Memory for solo piano explores ideas suggested by the title of the work in a number of ways – the way that musical material within a piece can create a kind of musical history for the listener, and also the way that the personal musical history of an artist can influence the creation of a new work. History and Memory is in more than 20 sections, played without a pause. As such, the work is a kind of musical tapestry. A fast-moving figure, first heard at the opening of the work, reoccurs several times throughout the piece, and serves as a ‘frame’ for the music of the other sections. As in much of my recent work, the music in the other sections varies greatly in style and content, ranging from lyrically melodic, sections of pulsating rhythmic repetition, and areas that are almost static. Harmonically, the work explores the gamut from modality to atonality. However, this diverse musical material is unified not only by the reoccurring opening figure and various tonal relationships, but also by the way that music in earlier parts of the work reappears later in the piece, referencing or commenting on the original material.

“I have also been increasingly interested in how a composer’s personal musical history and compositional influences, and the vagaries of memory of these things, might affect their work, perhaps in very subtle or even unconscious ways. Although often discussed in relation to the work of visual artists, this is perhaps an understudied aspect of the creative process of composers. In
History and Memory, the music in some sections of the work comments not only on the music heard elsewhere in the piece, but also, in my mind at least, makes references to my own earlier works, and some of my diverse compositional influences, interests and musical concerns from over the last 30 years. “

mountain / cherry / blossoms (2012)

Daryl Jamieson was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He writes for both Japanese and western classical instruments. His major compositions of his include large chamber pieces, a shakuhachi concerto, three string quartets, and many songs. His mono-opera
Matsumushi was premiered in Tokyo in 2014. He is a co-founder of mmm… – a Tokyo-based trio dedicated to introducing the music of young composers from around the world to Japanese audiences – as well as the Tokyo-based international composers collective Music Without Borders. He is also a member of the Hogaku 2010 Japanese traditional instrument composers group and the artistic director of Atelier Jaku.

Daryl Jamieson writes:
“These seven miniatures are based on seven poems from the famous mediaeval Japanese anthology
Hyakunin Isshu (One Hundred Poets, One Poem Each). Each of these poems – all in the classical 31-syllable tanka form – were analysed numerologically, and arranged in quasi-serial matrices that became the harmonic bases of the pieces. The overarching title, mountain / cherry / blossoms, comes from poem 66 (the seventh and final piece), though the three characters straddle a semantic break, leading to the slashes in the English title. Most of the poems include images of either mountains, cherries, or flowers. Ageing, loneliness, and love are the main themes of these seven short pieces.”

From ‘Variations’:

  • CLARK ROSS (b. 1957): Broken Glass (1991)
  • ANTHONY GENGE (b. 1952): Variation for Piano (1995)
  • WL ALTMAN (b. 1959): Utter Variation (2005)
  • JÉRÔME BLAIS (b. 1965): Inventio (2005)
  • IAN CRUTCHLEY (b. 1965): Opening and Variations (2005)
  • RICHARD GIBSON (b. 1953): Twenty-four Notes… (2005)
  • ROBERT BAUER (b. 1950): (Dis-) Integration Variation (2011)
  • DAVID LITKE (b. 1977): Goldbird (2011)
  • MICHAEL PARKER (b. 1948): Refug(u)e, Op. 64 (2014)
  • DENNIS FARRELL (b. 1940): 'Quodlibet' (Lat.: a 'what-cha-ma'-call-it') & Exit-Lullaby (2004)

Barbara Pritchard writes:

“Variations is a set of miniatures for solo piano, written by more than 50 different composers at my request. They are based (or not) on the composers’ reactions to an excerpt from Maggie Helwig’s poem “The Other Goldberg Variations” in Talking Prophet Blues. I don't remember exactly how the project first arose. I think I had come across a reference to Arthur O'Shaughnessy's poem in which he uses the phrase ‘movers and shakers.’ He isn't referring to business and political leaders, but to musicians, I believe. I was really struck by this. I thought it would make an interesting basis for a project, but it became apparent that others had already done this. Then, in 1991, I came across Maggie Helwig's book Talking Prophet Blues and, while riffling through it, noticed the fragment I eventually chose.

The piano is not the end, but
the means, the mediator
of body and music. The body
is not the beginning, but
must do for the moment. The music
is not the end.

“It is up to the composers to do whatever they want with the poetry. Some of them ignore it entirely, which is another way of varying things. Most recently, the composers have been focusing on Bach and the Aria. It's interesting to see that development. I like to ask composers if they want to be a part of the project, but I feel a little embarrassed to do so as I have no money to pay them. It's like asking for free samples. Most of them graciously agree, for which I am really, really thankful. There were six variations initially, three of which were commissioned by The Canada Council for the Arts. The idea seemed to work, so I expanded it in 1996 and have continued to add to it. I hope eventually to record a selection of them.

“When programming the Variations for concerts, they are wonderful to work with as there are so many ways to sort them: by geographical location of the composer, by choice of material, by style of music, taking into consideration the audience I’m playing for. At the very beginning, I play a recorded version of the Aria as an homage to Glenn Gould. I understand entirely his wish to control the final product – so many unexpected things can happen in live performance, not all of them good. In general, I believe live music is the best way to reach an audience, but when I make a mistake playing Bach, I want to crawl off stage and hide under a rock. This way, I can present my interpretation of the Aria without having to cut the performance short by leaving early...”

CLARK ROSS (b. 1957)
Broken Glass (1991)
Clark Ross is a Venezuelan-born professor of composition at Memorial University of Newfoundland whose compositions have been awarded an East-Coast Music Award (2014), nominated for a Juno Award (2011), and have been performed in Japan, Israel, England, Ireland, the Netherlands, the United States, and across Canada. He also won Young Composer Awards in Canadian competitions by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra.

Clark Ross writes:
Broken Glass, commissioned through the Canada Council in 1991 for Barbara Pritchard, is a response to both the Helwig poem, and the Bach reference in its title.

Variation for Piano (1995)

Anthony Genge writes:
Variation for Piano is a brief work in an arch form. A central slower series of chords is surrounded by a faster moving ostinato figure.  A single harmonic structure is used as the basis for all of the work’s musical material.

WL ALTMAN (b. 1959)
Utter Variation (2005)

WL Altman is a composer, interdisciplinary artist and performer. His work includes concert music for voice, instruments and interactive audio, immersive interactive installations, and performance art. He creates environments that allow performers and audiences alike to play at the edges and intersections of traditional art forms and technology

WL Altman writes:
Utter Variation is a struggle. The pianist performs unconventional tasks in quest of an unattainable ideal. A sense of futility infuses both the technical process and the musical product. You might also detect the smothered spirit of Glenn Gould struggling to express itself.

JÉRÔME BLAIS (b. 1965)
Inventio (2005)

The music of Jérôme Blais, which feature a unique encounter between traditional composition and improvisation, have been performed by several ensembles, including Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s Orchestre Métropolitain de Montréal. His works
Mouvance and Rafales, were nominated for ECMA’s Best Classical Composition of the Year in 2013 and 2014. He is now Professor of Composition and Music Theory at Dalhousie University, in Halifax, Nova Scotia. 

Jérôme Blais writes:
When Barbara Pritchard invited me to write a one-minute miniature for her
Variations project, the format of the Two-Part Inventions immediately jumped at me. Practicing those little gems in my teen years and later writing pastiches of them at university will always remain fond memories for me. And every time, it was as if the name BACH would be floating around, coming out of the piano or the paper. 

Opening and Variations (2005)
Ian Crutchley’s compositions are diverse, encompassing electronic media, acoustic instruments and music theatre, often in combination. Many works explore the use of acoustic space, movement, improvisation and variable performance possibilities. His live performances have included improvisatory electronics, group compositions and improvisations as well as the diffusion of electronic works by other composers. His music has been performed by many of the finest interpreters of new music while recent works have featured his own performances. Ian Crutchley currently resides in Edmonton, Alberta, where he works as a freelance composer/ performer and is President of The Society for New Music in Edmonton and Alberta Regional Councillor for The Canadian League of Composers. 

Ian Crutchley writes:
Two things really inform this work: 1. The phenomenally simple, yet distinctive opening to the
Goldberg Variations, is unmistakable and its ability to conjure up all sorts of thoughts about Bach, the piano, and most of all, Glenn Gould is permanent.  2. The opportunity to write even a short work for Barbara Pritchard is a privilege for any composer.  

Twenty-four Notes… (2005)
Richard Gibson has composed for all vocal and instrumental media and these compositions, which are regularly featured on CBC, Radio-Canada and various concert programmes, have won prestigious awards, including the 1983 SOCAN prize for young Canadian composers and the New Brunswick award for Excellence in Arts (1992). He currently teaches musical composition and theory at the Université de Moncton while composing for diverse regional and international performers. In recent years he has been asked to produce recordings of classical ensembles with instrumentation ranging from solo flute to full symphony orchestra, including the Forbidden City (Beijing) recording by the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra, which won an East Coast Music Award (2008) for best classical recording of the year (Eastern Canada). He maintains an ongoing interest in music education, working with various public school teachers and curriculum committees to develop/compose material suitable for classroom instruction, most particularly in the area of performance of contemporary instrumental music.  

Richard Gibson writes:
I decided to give myself the additional handicap of limiting the register to the two octaves above middle C (and yes, a 25
th note does occur when the middle C is played at the end!). Written with a view to eventually offering it to one of the many (!) toy piano performers in the world, I tried to evoke some of the elegance of Japanese music, of which I know almost nothing but to which I retain nevertheless a strong fascination. Given that Barb is one of the most ardent champions of Atlantic Canadian new music, and a personal friend, the piece was composed in a spirit of great pleasure and gratitude.
ROBERT BAUER (b. 1950)
(Dis-) Integration Variation (2011)

Robert (Bob) Bauer is a Canadian composer, broadcaster, performer, arts administrator and educator. He worked for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for 30 years as a recording engineer and music producer in Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax, doing a mixture of national and regional programming. Bauer is one of the founders of three of Canada’s leading new music organizations – ArrayMusic in Toronto, Upstream Music Association in Halifax and Musikon, also in Halifax. He has been co-artistic director of the Oscillations festival of electroacoustic music in Halifax and past chair of the Atlantic regional council of the Canadian Music Centre. His compositions have been heard in concert performances, broadcasts and recordings across Canada and in the United States.

Robert Bauer writes:
What I have done in this little piece is to take the original Bach aria and chop it into pieces. Then I randomly transposed, inverted and retrograded the pieces for re-assembly with some personal added touches, partly as linkage and partly for colour.

DAVID LITKE (b. 1977)
Goldbird (2011)

David Litke has taught courses in electroacoustic music and music theory at UBC and the University of Windsor, and currently teaches composition at the University of Georgia.   His music has been performed by many of Canada’s finest musicians and his work has been recognized nationally and internationally in composition competitions (NBO, SOCAN, and CUMS competitions) as well as in emerging composers’ programs (Composit 2013, acanthes@ircam New Technologies 2012, Bozzini Quartet's Composer's Kitchen 2010, NAC Young Composers 2008, ECM’s Génération 2006).  He has also been active in electroacoustic music research, and has presented at TIES’14, TES’13, ICMC'07, and SMC'07 conferences, on gestural control, score-following, and spectral music.

David Litke writes:
This miniature is a ‘bird’s-ear hearing’ of Bach’s
Goldberg Aria.  The piece’s florid surface gestures are built upon the skeleton of the aria’s opening antecedent phrase; you can hear the bones poking out now and again.

Refug(u)e, Op. 64 (2014)

Toronto-born Michael Parker was a founding member, performer and Executive Secretary with Arraymusic. In 1976, he moved to Newfoundland as principal violist with the Newfoundland Symphony. In 1977 he was appointed to the faculty of Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, Memorial University of Newfoundland in Corner Brook, where he was Professor of Classics and Historical Studies. In September 2007, Parker retired from this post and relocated to Halifax, Nova Scotia. He considers himself to be a very eclectic composer. He is completely self-taught: the compositional skills he has have been acquired by being an avid consumer and performer of all kinds of music throughout his life. Many of his works are traditional in style while others are more avant-garde; but all of his music reflects the established traditions of the various musical periods. His music tends to be well-structured, polyphonic, with unexpected elements.

Parker's most ambitious work to date is the chamber opera
The Visitor. This work was commissioned by Music Canada 2000 and the Newfoundland Symphony to commemorate the millennium of the arrival of the Vikings in Newfoundland in 1000 AD. The Visitor received its world première in Corner Brook and St. John's Newfoundland in September 2000.

Michael Parker writes:
The title of the work –
Refug(u)e – is a combination of the words ‘refuge’ and ‘re-fugue.’ Whenever I am in need of spiritual restoration I always turn to the music of Bach as my refuge. In form, the piece is a fugue, but is also a reworking of material from the original Goldberg Variations: hence a ‘re-fugue.’ The first two bars of the Aria become the subject of the fugue. However, instead of developing this melody, I chose to combine the fugue subject with exact quotes from some of the variations in the Bach original (specifically Variations 1, 8, 17, 20, 23). There is a cadenza over (and under) lengthy trills in the middle of the piece and the work ends with a dramatic coda.

Refug(u)e, I was especially drawn to two phrases in the Helwig poem. I interpreted the phrases “the piano is not the end…the music is not the end” to mean that the music never stops. I have therefore ended Refug(u)e in such a way as to suggest that the fugue is continuing even though the pianist has stopped playing.

'Quodlibet' (Lat.: a 'what-cha-ma'-call-it') & Exit-Lullaby (2004)

Wisconsin-born Dennis Farrell came to Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1968 to work with David Wilson and colleagues implementing new Dalhousie University Programs Music. In 1971 he became a founding member of the new-music group inNOVAtions in MUSIC. He subsequently participated in the establishment of a regional, Atlantic Canadian Composers Association, later becoming the Canadian Music Centre Atlantic Chapter. His compositional career has been supported to large extent by an active music scene in Halifax, and certainly at Dalhousie University.

From 1996-98 he was Secretary to the Dalhousie University Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. In addition to extensive University teaching and committee-work, he has been involved music education, over 40 years of church music conducting, arranging and accompanying in various church denominations, assistance with High-School musicals, adjudications, music camps, and workshops for teachers of music. His research interests, second only to composition, touch upon music theory (history of actual craft, tuning systems), music theory pedagogy and refresher resources for teachers, linguistics, liturgy and genealogies.

Dennis Farrell writes:
Ah! the famous
Goldberg bass-line, "wand'ring idly over the noisy keys": – suppose Bach's final, 30th Variation had found better-known ‘upper’ parts, comprising, perhaps, a more 'updated' quodlibet? Alas! – useless to any insomniac, however congenial, the miscalculated lullaby tiptoes quietly away; but, left behind, the regularly-tasked musical snuff-box, has, meanwhile, drowsily nodded-off . . .