This weekend at the Port Theatre, the Vancouver Island Symphony Orchestra will perform a “world premiere” of a symphony written by Malaspina University-College music professor Patrick Carpenter.
Under the artistic direction of Marlin Wolfe, the VISO will perform a four movement symphony penned by Carpenter. The performance is the final concert of the VISO’s 2003-2004 season.
“It’s been my dream to write a symphony for a long time,” said Carpenter, a professor at Malaspina since 1979. “I’ve written a lot of musical scores over the past 30 years, but this is the first time I’ve used high-tech digital computer programs.”
Carpenter used the Sibelius® computer software program, and created audio scores and CDs using the Cakewalk® Sonar™ digital multitrack recording system program and the Edirol Orchestral software synthesizer program, all of which he purchased and used for the first time on this special project.
Sibelius® was “invaluable in writing the score” because Carpenter had 26 to 28 musical staffs per page. He worked out the sounds on the piano, wrote them down in the score, inputted them into the computer program, and then could hear his own music played back.
“The programs are a great leap in technology – a tool that makes life easier for musicians,” he said. “It probably would have taken two years to write my symphony and copy out the score by hand and the parts.”
The title of Carpenter’s symphony is Saudades, a Portuguese word that refers to nostalgia and which, in regard to this piece, is used in reference to a longing for, or nostalgia for a place and/or time that may or may not have existed in the past, and may or may not exist in the present, or future.
“In this context, it’s imaginary,” said Carpenter. “The work takes the listener on a ‘walk’ through a series of allusions to music of the past (not necessarily a specific past, but a past that exists in the composer’s mind), with some more innovative contemporary sections placed between them for contrast.”
Marlin Wolfe, artistic director for the VISO, said he expects audiences will enjoy Carpenter’s symphony, which he describes as “quite complex. He definitely makes use of all the instruments in the orchestra,” added Wolfe. “It should go over quite well.”
Carpenter wrote symphony during a one-year assisted leave from his teaching duties at Malaspina. “It was a large but rewarding endeavour,” he said. “I’ve returned to teaching refreshed, and with valuable new insights regarding the field of computer music software,” he said.
Now Carpenter is taking older scores he wrote years ago and transferring them into digital form. Sibelius® gives a professional look to the scores, he said. He plans to add his new symphony and earlier works to the catalogue of the Canadian Music Centre library in their new professional digital format.
Carpenter also plans to record the Vancouver Island Symphony Orchestra playing his symphony, and arrange for a CD to be given to the Malaspina University-College Library’s CD collection.