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Anthem Studies in poetry no.8; for solo piano
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MI 2110 B954st8
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Unpublished, printed by CMC / Inédit, imprimé par le CMC
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30/06/2011 St. George's Cathedral Kingston, Ontario John Burge, solo piano
The series of piano etudes entitled, Studies in Poetry, was started in 2000 while John Burge was on a sabbatical leave from teaching at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario. This leave coincided with the purchase of a grand piano and the etudes were a way of both breaking in the new keyboard and investigating some personal explorations in composition. An avid reader of poetry, the composer simply took the titles of some of his favorite books of English poetry and provided a musical response to the book’s title. The resultant works are really a tribute to each poet and the first three etudes were premiered by the composer in the fall of 2001. Through practicing these etudes consistently over many months, the composer was able to make a number of refinements and had thought to add a few more etudes to the series over the next few years. As often happens though, the demands of everyday life and more pressing commissions meant that he was not able to return to this series until his next sabbatical in 2008. At that time the composer added Etudes Four, Five and Six to the series and these new etudes were premiered in the fall of 2009. Etudes Seven, Eight and Nine were written during the following two years and premiered in 2011. Anthem (Studies in Poetry No. 8) was inspired by a poetry collection of the same title by Canadian poet, Helen Humphreys (b. 1961). Helen Humphreys was born in London, England but for many years has lived in Kingston, Ontario, which also happens to be the composer’s hometown. A novelist and poet of considerable reputation, her book of poetry titled, Anthem, was published in 1999 by Brick Books. One particular poem in this collection entitled, “Variations,” had a significant influence on this piano piece and the opening line of the poem (“Music comes undone.”) can be heard in the piano’s opening melodic gesture. On a further level of allusion, this opening melodic gesture uses the same three chords that begin Canada’s national anthem. This etude is easily the most tonal composition of the series so far and the entire opening twelve-bar theme has a hymn-like quality emphasized by the simplicity of the four-part voicing. The theme is given a single variation treatment that builds to an expansive coda.
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SydneyEnterprise v184.108.40.206 - Canadian Music Centre | SydneyEnterprise (Final)