top of page


- and dark time flowed by her like a river... 1993


Gary’s music is always challenging but with its central emotional stimulus accessible and very recognisable. A native Torontonia, he is rapidly becoming one of the most influential figures in the field of Canadian composition. Although principally a composer — his works have been commissioned and performed all over the world — he is active also as a conductor, premiering hundreds of works in his guest appearances with orchestras across Canada.
I first heard …and dark time… in the version for violin (there’s a viola one too) and was caught by the unusual feel of the writing. Gary has found a language that is obviously contemporary and yet has an approachability one might not expect from this idiom. The title of the work is taken from the novel The Web and the Rock by Thomas Wolfe, which represents a thinly disguised autobiographical account of Wolfe’s early adulthood. This particular line is from a passage in which he describes his central character’s sudden deep recognition of the loss of each precious moment of time — the universal experience of youth’s passing. Suggestive more of a mood than a story the music is expressive and rather dark, reflecting the alternation of passion and despair that most sentient young people must endure.

The piece is constructed in four sections that flow into each other without interruption. The language of the work flows between two polarities: the atonal and the tonal. The atonal passages underline the ardor and hopelessness of the work (the precise use of quarter tones strikes me as peculiarly engaging) while the tonal centres tend to reflect a more moderate point of view.
Perhaps it is appropriate that I should be struck at this point in my life by a work inspired by the effects of time...


bottom of page