In January I take a moment to review my catalogue of works and decide if anything needs revision. This year I picked my 1998 orchestral piece Forging Utopia to revise. You can hear the results of the full piece performed in an audio demo on my soundcloud page.
You can hear the recording of the first performance on my solo CD Forging Utopia: Orchestral music of John Oliver.
With only a single performance, I found there were some things with which I was not satisfied. When Forging Utopia won the Western Canadian Music Award for Best Classical Composition, 2013, I had hoped that more orchestras would program the work. This hasn't happened yet. So I thought a brand new, improved version of the score might help the project of getting the work heard more widely.
I wrote Forging Utopia using Logic Pro software back in 1998. The work was commissioned by the National Arts Centre Orchestra and performed by them during their contemporary music festival "Generation XYZ" during the famous Ice Storm year. (My return flight from Ottawa to Vancouver was the last one out before the airport closed.) In 2012, the recording of this performance was included on my solo CD Forging Utopia: Orchestral music of John Oliver, and the following year, Forging Utopia won Classical Composition of the Year at the Western Canadian Music Awards.
Back then there were several problems trying to write orchestra music using Logic Pro software. mainly that everything in the score that was not a musical note needed to be manually adjusted. Now, over 20 years later, we have the new notation software DORICO, that automates a number of layout functions in response to the user's set up. I decided to use this as a test to see how MusicXML export from Logic to Dorico would work. It was excellent. Parts creation in Logic Pro was extremely time-consuming for orchestral music and unsatisfactory. DORICO is a big improvement over both Logic Pro and Sibelius for score entry, editing, and parts creation.
My new revision improves on the original score used for the first performance. Due to the technical challenges and slow response of the original notation software, I realized (on looking anew at the score) that there were a few passages that I could improve. The changes are however, minimal. My favourite is the change to the brief quotation passage that mixes Mendelssohn's violin concerto, the Prelude from Bach's cello Suite No. 1, the winds from Mahler's 9th Symphony, and the bassoon solo from the opening of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring: you can now hear the Stravinsky solo!
You can find the original recording of the first performance on my Centrediscs recording called Forging Utopia: Orchestral music of John Oliver; check my web site.