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Chamber Music
Rashomon Quartet

The Seagull


7 Encounters

Theme & Conversations for Orchestra

Symphony Erotica

The Little Match Girl

The Seagull

Empire Fanfare

Choral Prophecy

Symphonic Choral Prophecy

Piano Music
Three Piano Pieces

Eyes on The Mountain


total duration: 18:00

The Montreal Gazette, Saturday, July 13, 1996

"........Christopher Donison has composed a sumptuous highly programmatic string quartet that generally provides more rewards than anything transpiring on stage."

The Montreal Gazette, Saturday, July 13, 1996

About the Work

The Rashomon Quartet, was commissioned by the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake to accompany their productioin of Rashomon in 1996.

In a departure from the normal practice of writing individual sections of music for specific scenes in a play, an entire quartet was written first, in four movements after the four principal characters in the play, and then a recording of the work was turned over to the director Neil Munro to use in edited form as he wished for the play. This enabled the creation of musiic that fully develops into music of momentum and intertia , something that cannot be acheived in short segments, and also resulted in the creation of a complete concert work.

The full concert work was premiered by the Tristan Quartet at Brock University in the Spring of 1996 and subsequently recorded by them for the production. The following year it was released as the first CD from the Shaw Festival and was recorded by the Amati Quartet of Toronto and prouded by Keith Horner and engineered by David Burham.

Additionally, a documentary film by Antony Azzopardi, entitled Making Theatre, was made during the rehearsal process and the quartet became the basic sound-track for that film.

The play Rashomon, is a stage adaptation of the famous film by Akira Kurosawa. In it, a violent incident in ancient Japan is retold by the three main participants' a Bandit, a young Wife, and her Samurai Husband ' with strong differences in the most crucial part of the tale. By the time we hear a fourth version from a supposedly impartial observer, we are less certain than ever about what is the truth and what is just vanity. The four movements of the Rashomon Quartet, correspond to the four points-of-view that make up the play. The first movement ' the Bandit's story ' is based on a short three-note motif, rhythmic an aggressive. The Wife's story is a ten measure passacaglia with a lyrical dolce song that becomes increasingly more strident. The Husband's story is a show-off scherzo, ending in a low-pitched senza vibrato, which depicts his violent death. The fourth movement introduces no new thematic material of its own, so as to reflect the evident impartiality of the Woodcutter's story. Instead, the themes from the first three movements are re-combined to present a fresh view of the same melodic material.

    I   The Bandit   
         duration: 6:04      

    II   The Wife   
        duration: 4:56          

    III   The Husband   
        duration: 2:59          

    IV   The Woodcutter    
        duration: 4:33           

The Recording


TORONTO STAR Saturday, August 23, 1997

Rashomon Quartet

.....a worthy concert piece as it happens.... ....bristling with angularity, rhythmic energy and thematic insistence......furious pluckings and criss-crossings of voices......lyrical passacaglia.....complex and anxious as Donison works his material into a scherzo.....the composer subtly draws attention to the point of the play: that the same tale can take on quite different meanings, depending on the point of view of its various tellers.

The Film

........accompanied by Christopher Donison's beautiful string quartet suite written for the production.....

For Immediate Release
September 15, 1997

Wednesday, November 19-9-pm (ET)

The third and final trilogy installment of Anthony Azzopardi's award-winning arts documentary trilogy, Making Theatre, debuts on Bravo this fall. Making Opera and Making Ballet were both highly successful films which look intimately at the process of making art. Now Making Theatre deconstructs a Shaw Festival staging of Fay and Michael Kanin's adaptation of Akira Kurosawa'a Rashomon.

Rashomon tells the story of a traumatic event told from four different points of view. In a forest near Kyoto, Japan 1000 years ago a violent assault takes place: a samurai warrior is killed; his wife is raped; a bandit is accused, and a woodcutter witnesses the incident. All four recall the event differently. Making Theatre - Rashomon weaves cast rehearsals into footage from the final stage production to create a bird's eye view of the drama and its process.

Anthony Azzopardi's film credits include Strindberg and His Women, John Kim Bell, and Latin Nights . Making Opera won the Gold Hugo at the Chicago International Film Festival and a Gemini Award for best cinematography; Making Ballet was the recipient of a Silver Hugo at the Chicago International Film Festival, among many other awards.

Don't miss the Bravo! World Premiere of Making Theatre - Rashomon, Wednesday, November 19 at 9 pm (ET).

Complete Reviews

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The Programmes

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