Three Passages... was written for medium to large orchestra as my doctoral thesis at the University of Toronto, completed in 1992.
With a total duration of 32 minutes, each of the three Passages is a fairly substantial work.
The pieces are not deliberately programmatic in any way, but I probably would come up with more descriptive titles if
I were composing this today, simply because they are each highly coloristic symphonic fantasies,
and descriptive titles can help both audience and performers relate better to otherwise abstract music.
The explanation for the title is that I was thinking of each piece as a musical passage or journey wherein each
section would feel like an organic consequence of the previous one, until the end of the journey was reached.
Passage 1 was selected for performance by the Hamilton Philharmonic in their Young Composer's Workshop (1993), an event that, as far as I know, was never held again. The other composers selected were James Harley, Alice Ho, and David Scott, all of whom have gone on to have successful composition careers in Canada. Although the workshops led to a performance during an evening concert, I have not included a recording link for download. I may at some point add a recording of the MIDI version I made, because it at least gives some sense of what the piece sounds like.
Passage 2 has, alas, never been performed. The fact that I never sent it to anyone in a position to programme it is probably a contributing factor... As with the first Passage, there is a MIDI version that I may upload to this site when I get a chance. Nevertheless, you can get at least some idea of it by listening to the third of my Three Lorca Sketches, which shares many of its musical ideas with Passage 2. [Listen to #3 of Three Lorca Sketches for Orchestra, or read its programme notes]
Passage 3 , on the other hand, was performed, and performed well. It was picked as a finalist in the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra's Young Composers Competition (1993), which was one of the most exciting things that had ever happened to me at the time. My excitement was considerably dampened when I finally got a chance to hear it, which I believe took place during a morning read-through the day of the concert. In short, the piece sounded appalling, and I went from thinking, "gee, wouldn't it be great if I actually won this thing!" to "this is the most embarrassing day of my life! My piece is obviously hideous, and I don't know why I didn't see this earlier!" I am prone to extremes of mood. Well, after spending the afternoon exploring alternative career paths, I showed up at the evening concert prepared to endure the public humiliation as stoically as possible, only to be pleasantly surprised to discover that my piece sounded considerably better than it had in the morning, and there are no words to describe the relief I felt, except to say that it was huge. I did not win, but the work received compliments, which was nice, including from the Globe and Mail's Robert Everett-Green, who, in a live CBC radio interview, said some very pleasant things about it. I'd like to say I learned from this experience to not overreact when rehearsals go badly, but I'm not sure that I have, unfortunately.
©Clark Winslow Ross