Bourland: Three Magical Places (1979)

November 20, 2009

Susan Allen New Music for Harp
Writing for harp was one of the techniques I learned that brought me back to writing tonal music. My teacher and the performer here, was Susan Allen, now associate dean over at CalArts and the harp teacher. Susie and I moved from Boston to LA at the time and shared a 23 foot truck. We had all our worldly possessions, including her two black harps (Darth 1 and Darth 2).

Three Magical Places (1979) for solo harp


1.Charing Cross Bridge
2.Poppy Fields
3.Rouen Cathedral at Dawn

Music: Roger Bourland
Performers: Susan Allen
Publisher: Shawnee Press
Recording: 1750 Arch Records

It was an honor to have Mel Powell write program notes for this album. Here is what he said about my piece:

Roger Bourland’s Three Magical Places (Portrait of Monet), completed in 1979, honors the venerable Gallic tradition of music depiction. Captions assigned to the three pieces are, respectively: “Charing Cross Bridge,” “Poppy Fields” and “Rouen Cathedral at Dawn.” This homage to the great impressionist painter is itself a fastidious updating of French musical impressionism, to which an increasing large debt is being incurred by twentieth-century composers. Loveliness of sonority is the most conspicuous feature of the work, but that loveliness, as with Debussy and Ravel, is all the more beguiling in that it rests on a firm platform of structural finesse. For instance, an imaginative exploitation of the intervallic substance of a particular (Webern-flavored) trichord secures a liaison between different areas as one of the hidden compositional constraints. That such constraints are in fact so successfully camouflaged is a measure of the elegant musicality that distinguishes this work.

–Mel Powell

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