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clarinet, 2 horns, trumpet, trombone, 3 percussions, 2 cellos and 2 double basses

Pohjatuuli is a Finnish word that means “North wind”, which struck me as a particularly appropriate title for a work that aims to pay tribute to Jean Sibelius—a composer I hold in great esteem. My choice of the expression, “North wind”, resulted from contemplating several paintings by individual members of the Group of Seven—in particular those of J.E.H. MacDonald, L. Harris, A.Y. Jackson, and F.H. Varley, as well as their leader Tom Thomson. Each of these artists painted Northern landscapes, scenes that have a link to the countryside in which Sibelius lived. For me, Northern landscapes seem to break through the surface of Sibelius’s music, much like a brisk wind. In Pohjatuuli, I attempted to integrate a more contemporary musical language—my own—with one that is somewhat more traditional—Sibelius’s. Specifically, I introduced several imitations of various musical cells or phrases drawn from Sibelius’s second, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh symphonies as well as his Tapiola.

Pohjatuuli was commissioned by the Toronto International Festival, and premiered with Serge Garant at the podium at the city’s famed Roy Thomson Hall on June 25th, 1984 by the Société de Musique Contemporaine du Québec. This work was also singled out for the 1986 Jules-Léger prize for an original chamber work.

  • Score available at CMC, Région du Québec.
  • Recording: available at SMCQ’s office