Symonds, Norman

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Symonds, Norman

Symonds, Norman, Canadian clarinetist, saxophonist, and composer; b. near Nelson, British Columbia, Dec. 23, 1920; d. Toronto, Aug. 21, 1998. He took up the clarinet as a teenager and played in a dixieland band. After training in clarinet, piano, theory, and harmony at the Toronto Cons. (1945-48), he studied composition with Delamont. Between 1949 and 1966 he was active as a clarinetist, alto and baritone saxophonist, and as an arranger with Toronto dance bands. He also led his own jazz octet from 1953 to 1957. Symonds was one of Canada’s early champions of the “third stream” idiom. In addition to scores composed in this manner, he also wrote works in an Expressionist vein.


dramatic: Age of Anxiety, radio play (1959); Opera for 6 Voices, radio opera (1962); Tensions, ballet (1966); Man, Inc., mixed media piece (1970); “Charnisay Versus LaTour” or The Spirit of Fundy, opera (1972); Laura and the Lieutenant, musical play for children (1974); The Canterville Ghost, music theater (1975); Lady of the Night, opera (1977); Episode at Big Quill, radio theater (1979); The Fall of the Leaf, oratorical music drama (1982); Sylvia, music theater (1990).ORCH.: Concerto Grosso for Jazz Quintet and Orch. (1957); The Age of Anxiety Suitefor Jazz Orch. (1958); Autumn Nocturne for Tenor Saxophone and Strings (1960); Elegy for Strings (1962); Pastel Blue for Strings (1963); The Nameless Hour for Improvising Soloist and Strings (1966); The Democratic Concerto for Jazz Quartet and Orch. (Winnipeg, Dec. 14, 1967); Impulse (Toronto, March 18, 1969); 3 Atmospheres (1970); Maya (1973); Big Lonely (1975; rev. 1978); Forest and Sky (1977); The Gift of Thanksgiving (1980); Spaces I: The River for Strings (1980); Sylvia,“adult fairy tale” for Jazz Soloists and Jazz Ensemble (1982); On an Emerald Sea (1983); The Eyes of Bidesuk for Amplified Accordion and Jazz Orch. (1987); From the Eye of the Wind (1987; Toronto, Jan. 1, 1988). CHAMBER: Fugue for Reeds and Brass (1952); 2 concertos for Jazz Octet (1955, 1956); Fugue for Shearing for Piano and Jazz Ensemble (1957); A 6 Movement Suite for 10 Jazz Musicians plus 4 Songs and Incidental Music for Voice and Jazz Tentet (1959); Fair Wind for Jazz Ensemble (1965); A Diversion for Brass Quintet (1972); Bluebeard Lives for String Quintet and Tape (1975); Quintet for Clarinet and Synthesizers (1977); Elegance for Percussion (1982); Salt Wind White Bird for 4 Flutes (1984). VOCAL: Deep Ground, Long Waters for Medium Voice, Flute, and Piano (1972); At the Shore: A Sea Image for Chorus and Percussion (1976); 4 Images of Nature for Chorus, Bass, and Percussion (1976); Harvest Choral for Chorus (1979); Lullaby for Chorus (1979); Pity the Children for Chorus (1979); Lady Elegance for Medium Voice and Piano (1986).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire