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Compositions —

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Five Memos

2005 • 18 minutes • flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano and percussion

I In Which an Image is Formed
II In Which Things Happen Quickly
III The Removal of Weight
IV Which Gives Speech to That Which Has No Language
V Involving a Well Calculated plan

In his remarkable book Six Memos for the Next Millenium , Italian novelist Italo Calvino offers a critique of the state of contemporary fiction writing and outlines his hopes and dreams for the future of writing. 


Based on five prepared but undelivered lectures, the titles of his chapters, "Lightness," "Quickness," "Exactitude," "Visibility," and "Multiplicity," give insight into his aesthetic values. (Their delivery as well as the last memo were pre-empted by his death in 1985). Calvino's incredible perceptions and insights, especially his formal reflections and innovations, have been an inspiration to me for a long time. My work, in five sections, is intended as a similar commentary on the state of the field of fine art music - its sounds, its theatre, its rituals - and perhaps also suggests glimpses into its future. Five Memos was commissioned by Continuum through the auspices of the Canada Council and Ontario Arts Council.

'Five Memos' exists as part of a trilogy of instrumental theatre pieces for this combination of instruments, along with 'Music is a Beautiful Disease' and 'Objects in Motion'.

This work is scored as 'instrumental theatre', with movement and stage directions. It can nevertheless be be performed with by any chamber ensemble with normal amounts of rehearsal time.

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