raW

2003 listen

raW was written by filtering J. S. Bach's Second Brandenburg Concerto through Bob Marley's War (Bach's first movement), Burning Spear's The Invasion (second movement), and John Philip Sousa's Stars and Stripes Forever (third movement). The constant running sixteenths of the Bach are by turns syncopated or silenced, leaving fleeting and usually unrecognizable echoes of reggae or march. MIDI files downloaded from the internet coupled with music software (Sibelius in this case) formed the basis of early drafts of this work. From them, I made templates, which I then edited over the course of many drafts, as might an artist who takes a photograph and alters it by hand: drawing, scratching, colouring, erasing. raW was written during the buildup to the American invasion of Iraq, but it was only afterwards that I noticed the connection to the "filtering" pieces' titles. raW was commissioned and premiered by Ergo Concerts (Barbara Croall, Artistic Director) and written with the assistance of a grant from The Toronto Arts Council. It was awarded the 2006 Jules Léger Prize for Chamber Music.


James Rolfe CA

Toronto composer James Rolfe has been commissioned and performed by soloists, ensembles, orchestras, choirs, theatres and opera companies in Canada and abroad. He has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, the K. M. Hunter Music Award, and the Jules Léger Prize for New Chamber Music. The Canadian Opera Company, Queen of Puddings Music Theatre Company, Tapestry New Opera, and Toronto Masque Theatre have commissioned and produced his operas. Current projects include a new operatic version of Gogol's The Overcoat with writer Morris Panych, to be premiered in spring 2018 by Tapestry Opera, Canstage, and Vancouver Opera, and a new work for Soundstreams for June 2018.

James Rolfe