2015 – Commissioned by The Gryphon Trio with the assistance of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Winnipeg Arts Council
21-22 minutes
Violin, Cello, Piano


“I loved this complicated and brilliantly played piece.”Ottawa Life, Gryphon Realms review

Gryphon Realms
(for piano trio)

I. Serpentile
II. Gryphonsong
III. War Dance

Gryphon Realms is a three-movement work, inspired by the gryphon mythology, that explores the colouristic, virtuosic, and expressive possibilities of the piano trio while highlighting my more personal musical language. To set the stage for the mystical world that the audience will be journeying in, the first movement, “Serpentile”, starts out with otherworldly sounds to convey the vocalizations of a gryphon – roars, hisses, and groans. Emerging from this sonic palette are serpent-like motifs, played by the violin and cello, that represent the slithery movements of the creature’s tail as it emerges from its den. This material is developed throughout the movement while the piano serves as the rhythmic driving force, representing the gryphon taking flight. The second movement, “Gryphonsong”, is a musical portrait of two gryphons singing to one another (as represented by the violinist and cellist) during a moment of courtship. During the middle of this movement, a brief pseudo-improvisatory moment is played by the pianist that is soon followed by an elegiac chorale, played by the violinist and cellist, that drifts in and out like a distant memory. The last movement, “War Dance” is an epic battle between all three musicians that is meant to highlight their virtuoso abilities while capturing the primal energies of three mystical gryphons that they each represent.

As one reviewer described the work:
The first movement, Serpentile, features a frenetic energy going from the low to high register. At one point you can imagine a Gryphon who is imprisoned in a dungeon scratching his talons on the wall to get out. The second movement, Gryphonsong, had me seeing the freed Gryphon wandering in a meadow listening to birdsong. But he is sad, lamenting his time in captivity. But this does not last as he realizes he is now free – a series of choral bars signifying hope. War Dance, the final movement, is dramatic with strong accented 1/8 notes. The Gryphon seems to be saying, “I am here, hear me roar”. His confidence returned he is who he is – no longer angry but aware of his fierceness and free. Don’t mess with this guy. I loved this complicated and brilliantly played piece. – Alan Viau, Ottawa Life