Variations on the Halifax Explosion for Orchestra – Peter Allen

2006 Finalist

Creator: Peter Allen

Nominator: Yvonne DeRoller

Native Haligonian Peter Allen is a well-respected concert pianist, teacher and composer.

He is currently Assistant Professor of Piano at Dalhousie University. He performs concertos with orchestra, chamber music, many solo recitals and is also a recording artist.

Commissions include “Mar Atlantico” (Canadian Debut: Symphony Nova Scotia at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa: Nova Scotian Debut at the Rebecca Cohn in Halifax–CBC broadcast), “Haligonian Rhapsody for Two Pianos”; “Maritime Suite for Clarinet and String Orchestra” and “String Quartet”, performed to standing ovations.

Variations on the Halifax Explosion was commissioned by Artistic Director Dr. Greg Burton of the Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra. “Variations” signifies mood changes of the community and landscape.

The theme represents the sudden explosion, Variation 1 represents the devastation of land and it’s people; Variation 2 represents the lamenting grief of an individual; Variation 3 represents total chaos and confusion amongst the survivors, and Variation 4 represents firm resolve of the public to tend to the injured, bury the dead and rise above the catastrophe.

The coda represents a firm resignation and determination of the people of Halifax to overcome, survive and move forward, and the final chord represents a communal screaming cry for help.

Jury Comments: This is a substantial and “explosive” piece of music that resonates with a “world event” that all Nova Scotians can relate to.

The work is both challenging and accessible to the listener. It also challenges the performers, in this case The Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra, to perform at a high standard of virtuosity and expression. Composed for the NSYO it is represents a superb means of communicating an historic event to the next generation.

It’s a masterwork that could be performed and have life in any symphonic concert hall in the world.