Edmonton Symphony Orchestra’s composer-in-residence unveils his latest composition, Mountain Triptych
Few things convey awe like a horn. Popular Christian wisdom has Gabriel blowing one in 1 Corinthians, and popular composers like Hans Zimmer use them to underscore cinematic drama. When attempting to venerate something as massive as the Rocky Mountains, you can’t do much better than horns.
With that sort of power in mind, the orchestral world premiere of Concerto for 2 Horns (Mountain Triptych), composed by Edmonton Symphony Orchestra’s composer-in-residence, John McPherson, aims to evoke the brilliance of the Albertan landscape with just two instruments.
“These are all very colourful pieces from different eras,” McPherson says. “I think what brings them together is how well they’re all crafted and how they will all feel like very strong images from different eras. It’s sort of like going through an art gallery.”
McPherson’s Mountain Triptych will appear alongside Kabalevsky’s Violin Concerto in C Major, Respighi’s The Birds, and Haydn’s Symphony No.94. The composition will be performed by Allene Hackleman and Megan Evans on French horns and is conducted by William Eddins.
The piece contains three compositions entitled, “Sunrise,” “Rundle,” and “Sunset, Night Sky,” respectively.
“When I was writing it, it did come together quite quickly,” McPherson says. “It felt somewhat cohesive. The outer movements, the first and third movements complimented the inner movements, which I thought was sort of the central idea. The idea of three. It also felt a bit to me like one of the influences on the piece was sort of a landscape.”
In spite of his own intentions and ideas when creating the concerto, McPherson says he doesn’t want to beat audiences over the head with his interpretation of his music. He prefers to let people imagine what comes easiest to their ears and minds.
John McPherson has been the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra’s principal trombone for almost 40 years. He decided to take a break in 2016, and in July of that year he became the orchestra’s fourth composer-in-residence.
“That’s the interesting thing about being a composer as opposed to being a performer,” McPherson says. “All my work’s been done a long time ago. I can be fairly relaxed about the whole process of performance and just sort of enjoy it.”
With the completion and performance of Mountain Triptych, McPherson reflects on seeing his piece performed alongside the likes of the historically cherished.
“Every piece has to have its premiere sometime,” McPherson says. “If it’s 200 years ago or today. It’s like the old adage of ‘The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time to plant a tree is today.’ Putting out a new piece into the world is a bit like planting a young tree. You hope it will be nurtured and appreciated over the years.”
Sat., Jan. 13 (8 pm)