Michael Horwood
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Michael Horwood


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"Michael Horwood:Suite and Serious"


Review by Uncle Dave Lewis

Canadian composer Michael S. Horwood started out in the field of new music leading an improvising ensemble called Convergence at the Humber College of Applied Arts and Technology, where Horwood taught until his retirement in 2003. Horwood's orchestral Amusement Park Suite (1986) represented a radical shift in his work, away from the highly technical and hyper-complex world of new music as it was known in 1986 and toward a more neo-Romantic idiom that nonetheless retained some vestiges of what he had done before. This work is included in Albany Records' disc devoted to Horwood, Suite and Serious, along with his National Park Suite (1990) and Symphony No. 1 (1984) performed by the Sinfonia Varsovia under Ian Hobson. The program is filled out by a set of variations for piano and orchestra, Intravariations (1997), with the solo part played by Joseph Kubera.

Amusement Park Suite (1986) is Horwood's signature piece and has been performed with considerable frequency both in Canada and the United States, largely by community orchestras and at children's concerts. In terms of reaching children and classical music-hating adults, Amusement Park Suite is great for that purpose, and though occasionally cinematic in tone it is nevertheless fresh sounding and very creative in an orchestral sense. The Symphony No. 1 is only slightly earlier and is dedicated to the memory of Idora Park in Youngstown, OH, which closed as the ink was drying on Horwood's manuscript. It is a little tougher than the Amusement Park Suite but not very much so -- some listeners might find it reminiscent of some mid-twentieth century symphonies such as those by Roger Sessions or Karl Amadeus Hartmann. National Park Suite finds Horwood back in his pictorial mode, converting national parks located in both Canada and the United States into music, as Ferde Grofé once did. Occasionally one finds Horwood's musical correspondences a little mystifying, such as the strident march figures used to represent Yellowstone, but everyone takes away from the national parks their own distinct impressions and Horwood deserves points for keeping true to himself. Intravariations are Bartókian in style and not bad, although this more "serious" effort seems a bit out of place in comparison to the other three works. As with most Albany releases featuring Hobson and the Sinfonia Varsovia of recent vintage, both the performance and recording are terrific.

Amusement Park Suite certainly has going for it a measure of accessibility, is well orchestrated, and its presence in the recorded repertoire is welcome; the other pieces are at least interesting. Albany's Suite and Serious will help stimulate performances of Horwood's music and allay the fears of prospective concertgoers faced with the prospect of an unfamiliar name on the program -- don't worry folks, this guy isn't going to bite you. - www.allmusic.com

"Release of Suite and serious"

Albany Records is proud to announce the release of Suite & Serious: Orchestral Music by Michael S. Horwood performed by Sinfonia
Varsovia, conducted by Ian Hobson. Works include Horwood’s National Park Suite, Symphony No. 1, Intravariations with Joseph
Kubera, piano, and Amusement Park Suite.
Michael S. Horwood was born in Buffalo, New York, in 1947. He studied music composition and theory at the State University of New
York at Buffalo with Istvan Anhalt, Lukas Foss, Ramon Fuller, and Lejaren Hiller. From 1972-2003 he was a professor of music and
humanities at Humber College of Applied Arts and Technology in Toronto. His more than 70 compositions constitute a kaleidoscope
of the traditional and the avant-garde. Horwood’s music has been performed in North America, Europe and Japan. He is a member of
the Canadian League of Composers and an Associate Composer of the Canadian Music Centre. His works have been recorded on the
ERM Media, Echiquier, Fleur de Son, Furiant, Opus One and Sept Jardin labels.
The four orchestral works on this CD provide a concert program revealing a composer of substantial music thought. Michael S.
Horwood’s compositional style has an original stamp, yet he is not averse to employing stylistic elements and compositional techniques
that suit any situation. Horwood does not pander or patronize: he has something to say, and he says it very effectively and enjoyably.
Horwood composed the National Park Suite in 1990 as a sequel to the earlier Amusement Park Suite. Both suites are cast in a fivemovement
form providing miniature tone-poems of specific and engaging locales. The relationship between the two suites is similar
to that between the suites that make up Respighi’s famous Roman trilogy. The need to write a symphony has been part of a composer’s
psyche since Haydn and Horwood was not immune or averse to heeding its call. Written in 1984, Symphony No. 1 traverses neo-classical
territory, while Horwood’s Intravariations for piano and orchestra is decidedly romantic.
Commanding an extensive repertoire that ranges from baroque masterworks to modern multitextural complexities, the Sinfonia Varsovia
has drawn numerous internationally acclaimed conductors and soloists and performed throughout Europe, East Asia and North and
South America and in numerous music festivals on both sides of the Atlantic. Sinfonia Varsovia’s recordings have received several prestigious
awards, including the Diapason d’Or and the Grand Prix du Disque.
Ian Hobson, internationally known pianist and conductor has guest conducted the Cleveland Orchestra, the Jackson Symphony in
Michigan, the Pomeranian Symphony and the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, among other ensembles. The founder of Sinfonia da
Camera chamber ensemble, Hobson is currently professor of music and professor in the Center for the Advanced Study at the University
of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
SUITE & SERIOUS (TROY943) is available online at www.albanyrecords.com, at fine record stores or from
Albany Music Distributors, 915 Broadway, Albany, NY 12207 • 1.800.752.1951
915 Broadway • Albany, NY 12207
Tel: 518.436.8814 • Fax: 518.436.0643
Toll Free Tel: 1.800.752.1951 - Albany Records


Suite and Serious (2007) (OF which most of which is included in this EPK, but due to lack of space not all pieces and movements are uploaded)
Masterworks of the New Era, Vol. 10 (2007) (From which the work, Three Interludes, is included in this EPK)
Masterworks of the New Era, Vol. 3 (2004)
Tango Diablo! (2003)
Canadian Compositions for Young Pianists (2003)
Brass Feast (2002)
For the Birds (2000)
Motility (2000)
A Long Time Ago Into the Future (1998)



Michael Horwood was born in Buffalo, New York, on May 24, 1947. He studied music composition and theory at the State University of New York at Buffalo with Istvan Anhalt, Lukas Foss, Ramon Fuller and Lejaren Hiller, receiving his Bachelor's and Master's degrees (1969, 1971). In 1971, he moved to Canada and from 1972-2003 was a professor of music and humanities at Humber College of Applied Arts and Technology in Toronto. During the latter half of the 1970s, Horwood formed Convergence, an improvisation ensemble in which he played piano and percussion. In 2003, he retired from teaching and with his wife moved to Cowley, Alberta.

Photo of Michael S. HorwoodHis more than seventy compositions constitute a kaleidoscope of the traditional and the avant-garde spanning a wide variety of contemporary idioms including twelve-tone, theatre pieces, electroacoustic (both live and pre-recorded), jazz, minimalism and neo-romanticism. He has written for conventional ensembles, unusual instrumental combinations and even flexible scoring. Among his most successful works have been those which involve extra-musical concepts such as his chamber works Birds (1979) and Nervous Disorder (1988), the electroacoustic work Motility (revised 1986) and the orchestral works Amusement Park Suite (1986), National Park Suite (1991) and Symphony No. 2, Visions of a Wounded Earth (1995).

Horwood seems content writing in any genre and, similarly, feels a composer today should be able to adapt and create in a variety of styles. From all the deliberate variety in Horwood's music, a few personal traits have tended to emerge. One of these is an acute sense of sonority, the knack of exploiting the unique ranges and timbres of his instrumental forces, whether in solo or combinations. This use of instrumental sound is occasionally coupled with an overt sense of theatricality or humour, even in his non-theatre works.

Since the late 1980s, many of Horwood's compositions have returned to his original interest in Romantic period music. Thus, the more global interest in neo-romanticism is seen by Horwood as not only welcome, but concurrent with his own creative goals. In 1995, he completed a co-commission (through the Canada Council) from four Canadian orchestras for his most ambitious work to date - a fifty minute choral symphony, Symphony No. 2, Visions of a Wounded Earth, with texts from eight Canadian poets on the state of the environment. The year 1996 saw the commission (through the Windsor Symphony) of a short chamber orchestra piece on the theme of "morning", Do You Live for Weekends?, as well as the un-commissioned, Symphony No. 3, Andromeda. Another multiple orchestral commission (through the Ontario Arts Council) followed in 1997, the piano concerto Intravariations, for pianist Mary Kenedi. Later that year the Festival of the Sound (Parry Sound, Ontario) commissioned him for Quartzite Dialogues, a work for narrator and wind quintet. In October 1999, Horwood brought forth the short piano work, T + I = Ewigkeit, based on a theme by Wagner. In 2000, he adapted the interludes from his second symphony as an independent orchestral work, Three Interludes. A new version of his early Concerto for Double Bass and String Orchestra was issued in 2003. In 2006, two commissioned works (through the Alberta Foundation for the Arts) were composed: Fragments, a duo for any two treble clef instruments for the St. Crispin's Chamber Ensemble, and Piano Sonata (Preludes, Elegy and Dances) for Mary Kenedi. Most recently, four orchestral works (Amusement Park Suite , National Park Suite, Intravariations and Symphony No. 1) were released in July 2007 on an Albany Records CD with Ian Hobson, Joseph Kubera and the Sinfonia Varsovia.