Richard Covey’s eyes light up when he talks about his new work for full orchestra that is making its world premiere in Charlottetown this weekend.
“It’s really exciting. It’s also a little nerve wracking because you spend so much time working on the details,” says the P.E.I. composer during a recent break between teaching music at UPEI.
Simply called Arise, the 10-minute composition is engaging and pleasing to the ear.
“It’s inspired by pop music. It uses rifts, small motives and rhythmic devices from popular music, like syncopated rhythm, to build up textures in the orchestra.
“In listening to the piece, you’ll hear rising melodic contours as well as large scale and small scale gestures,” says Covey who is hoping to preview it before it hits the stage of the Homburg Theatre of the Confederation Centre of the Arts during the P.E.I. Symphony Orchestra (PEISO) concert on Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
“I’ve been in contact with the conductor and I’ll be popping into the rehearsal on Saturday (to check things out),” he says.
Covey is also looking forward to seeing how the audience reacts to the composition during the public performance the next day.
“After working on it for three months — after the kids were in bed and the marking and the preparation for the next day classes were done — I’m excited to hear it played,” he says.
The work is part of Celebrate New Directions, the name of Sunday’s program, under the direction of guest conductor Mark Shapiro.
The concert will also feature Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2 in E minor as well as the Suzanne Brenton winner, Adrian Irvine, who will perform Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor with the orchestra.
“It’s going to be a great concert,” says PEISO administrator Natalie Williams Calhoun.
In particular, she’s pumped about Covey’s composition.
“It looks pretty cool. It’s got a lot of repetitive patterns, exciting climaxes and other stuff,” says Calhoun, who is a cellist with the PEISO.
“Right now, I feel like I have one piece from an entire puzzle. Now I want to hear the rest of it,” she says.
Covey says he wrote the music to appeal to orchestras that require Canadian content and as a concert starter.
“Usually the first piece in a concert is a contemporary work. And they can be difficult. Drawing on popular music, this was easier to put together. I hope to send it around to orchestras in North America and the United Kingdom, advertising it as an accessible opener to start the concert on a positive note and to inspire the audience to hear the rest of the program,” he says.
It’s not the first time that Covey’s work has premiered. His most recent compositions include Maestoso, performed by the UPEI Wind Symphony this past November; Echoes of Time and Tone for solo piano, performed in London, England, in April 2012; and Echoes for solo piano, performed during the Knigge Piano Competition in Vancouver in February 2012.
And audiences should expect to hear more in the future.
“I’m writing. Right now we’re working on a piece for SATB (soprano, alto, tenor bass) choir as well as some compositions for competitions.”
Sally Cole is a features writer with The Guardian. She welcomes comments about her column as well as suggestions for future columns from readers. She may be reached at email@example.com or by phone at 629-6000, ext. 6054.