RONALD ROYER (b. 1959)
A Short Odyssey 1995
Ron was born in California, and spent his formative professional years as a cellist working in the movie and television industry in Los Angeles. Since moving to Toronto he turned to composition and is currently Composer-in-Residence for the Toronto Sinfonietta who, for the 1999-2000 season have commissioned him to create works honouring the 150th anniversary of the death of Chopin. At the time of writing Ron is also working on commissions celebrating the close of the millennium and Fantasy Variations on a Theme by Pancrace Royer (a composer of the French baroque). His work has been broadcast across Canada by the CBC and in Germany by the NDR.
Ron and I were both cellists beginning to make careers in Toronto when we met in 1989. As time went on he decided that composition was where his voice really lay and he enrolled at the University of Toronto. His thesis for his Master of Music degree was (perhaps not surprisingly) a cello concerto. Journey piqued my interest quite markedly arid was accompanied by an equally engaging shorter version for cello and piano: A Short Odyssey.
The compression of Journey into A Short Odyssey condenses the concerto into a fine!y balanced concert piece without losing any of the originals’ drive and character. The musical environment is essentially tonal but Ron employs aspects of serial technique to create a quite individual language. There is an accessibility and attractiveness to the music (perhaps a latent influence from Ron’s years in the LA studios?) that I find irresistible. I have given several performances of Journey including the Canadian premiere, and have been overwhelmed by the positive reaction from audiences and orchestras alike. Being a cellist himself Ron has been able to judge very capably how the cello can best bring his music to life and has produced works of great verve with a rewarding capacity for expressiveness on the part of the performer.
Ron quotes Christina Georgi Rossetti’s poem Up-Hill on the title page of Journey - it is undoubtedly just as appropriate for A Short Odyssey:
Does the road wind up-hill all the way?
Yes, to the very end
Will the days journey take the whole long day?
From morn to night my friend.