RTC-46: 1974 Variations on “The Prairie Settler’s Song”

Commission: CBC, Dedicated to John Roberts, (head of CBC)(original score indicated it was written for the Edmonton Symphony Orch.
Length: 22 min.
Completion: 30 June 1974, Fuengirola, Spain
Premiere: CBC Vancouver Chamber Orch., John Avison (cond.)
Publication: CMC
Recording:

  1. CBC Vancouver Chamber Orch., John Avison, CBC SM 331
  2. CBC Vancouver Chamber Orchestra, John Avison (cond.), ACM 15, 1983

This work is based on a song published in 1882 by Montreal organist Charles F. Davies [scan original], which is heard first in its original harmonization, followed by six variations. Turner obtained a copy of the original sheet music from Helmut Kallmann, who thought it might be of interest to Turner since he had moved to the prairies in 1969.
The work was commissioned by John Roberts, head of radio music and variety at the CBC from 1971-75. The score is dedicated to Roberts, and was originally written for the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. However, the work was premiered by the CBC Vancouver Chamber Orchestra.
In his notes, Dr. Turner refers to his use of melodic fragments rising out of a static tone-cluster in Variation 3; the improvisational flow of Variation 4; and in Variation 6, his use of fluctuating bands of orchestral sound with occasional melodic fragments rising out of a staccato punctuation within these bands.