RTC-51: 1978 Amoroso Canto Suite for SATB choir


  1. Wallace Stevens, “Mozart, 1935”
  2. Paul Verlaine, “Chanson d’automne”
  3. Louis Dudek, “An Air by Sammartini”
  4. Guillaume Apollinaire, “Le pont Mirabeau”
  5. Thomas Hardy, “Lines to a Movement in Mozart’s E-Flat Symphony”

Commission: International Society of Music Education (ISME) / Canada Council Grant
Length: 13 min.
Completion: June 1978, Blowing Rock, N.C.
Premiere: 1978-08-14/16, 13th International Conference for Music Education, University of Western Ontario Faculty of Music Singers, Deral Johnson (conductor)

  • 1986-11-22, Tapestry Singers, Wayne Strongman (cond.), Toronto
  • 1988-03-22, University Singers, Henry Engbrecht (cond.), Eva Clare Hall, U of Manitoba

Publication: CMC
Recording: Amoroso Canto, Canzona Chamber Choir, conducted by Henry Engbrecht (2008)

Alden Turner/RT Notes:

Robert and Sara Turner delighted in their yearly travels throughout North America and Europe, especially their sojourns in the southern climates of Italy and Spain, where they attended countless live concerts, visited museums and art galleries, explored the old homes of writers, painters and composers, and haunted the stacks of bookstores and libraries. His musical allusions and painstaking selections of the texts for vocal works reveal Turner’s sophisticated affection fro humour and illusiveness derived from these vital events, peoples and places he experienced as much as from the arcane cultural sources and influences he discovered in books and other composers’ scores.

The Amoroso Canto Suite (1978) offers a complex yet lyrical synthesis of Turner’s painstaking studies of a remarkable range of European and North American musical and literary sources, aesthetic styles, and inter-art influences from Mozart to Sammartini, Verlain and Apollinaire to Wallace Stevens and Louis Dudek.

Commissioned by the International Society of Music Education (ISME), it was premiered for their 13yh International Conference held at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario. Among listeners’ discoveries in this suite may be unheard of lyrical inventions like “a crystal that fell from musical fingers – a certain tree where the road turns, whatever is found or is done that cannot be lost or changed, Amoroso Canto” (Dudek). Certainly the composer’s own relentless search for expression of thought and feeling through music is reflected in Stevens’ “Mozart 1935”: “the divertimento; that airy dream of the future, the unclouded concerto… the snow is falling; strike the piercing chord. Be thou the voice, not you, Be thou that wintry sound as of a great wind howling, by which sorrow is released – dismissed, in a starry placating.”

Above all else, Robert Turner was a man of few words and great affection for whom the enduring quality of the human voice is made sacred through songs created in places of silence where we may recognize in ourselves how and why “Music is feeling, then, not sound” (Wallace Stevens, “Peter Quince at the Clavier”).