À travers la mer (2006)

full orchestra

16 min.

À travers la mer is based loosely on the idea of an ocean voyage — Jacques Cartier’s first of three trips from France to New France (Québec), in 1534. He was not the first European to arrive in the eastern parts of Canada. However, Cartier ventured into the Gulf of St. Lawrence, which was still uncharted territory, and the voyage would have been extremely dangerous, and exciting, to say the least.

With no accurate maps to guide them, and no means of accurately measuring longitude (this did not exist until over 100 years later), the travelers must have been reliant on the heavens, and intuition, to guide them. I did not want to make this piece especially programmatic, but rather, I was interested in the various conflicting emotions that may have been in the air: excitement, memory/nostalgia, trepidation, and not least, the beauty and terror that the ocean must have inspired. The ocean and the stars are present in various shifting layers, as are fragments of a folk melody from Basse-Bretagne.

Read by the Victoria Symphony Orchestra (conducted by Tania Miller), at the Victoria Conservatory of Music, 2 February, 2007. Also read by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, as part of Jean Coulthard Reading Sessions, (conducted by Bramwell Tovey), at the Orpheum Theatre, Vancouver, 19 April, 2007.


Sheet music is available through the Canadian Music Centre.