John Gordon Armstrong

Canadian Composer



Kaleidoscope reworks some of the musical materials from a piece I wrote in 1979 while a graduate student at the University of Michigan. That piece, Prism, was a prize winner in the orchestra category of the 1980 CAPAC (now SOCAN) competition but was never performed, possibly because of it’s eccentric scoring – 3 flutes, 3 trumpets, 3 cellos, 2 percussion, harp and piano.

The name Prism refers to the 3 primary colours used in that piece – flutes, trumpets and cellos. When I decided to rework it for orchestra, the name Kaleidoscope seemed an obvious choice. The main elements from the original piece are the trumpet fanfare at the beginning and the meditative woodwind background at the end. Other elements of the original piece have been reworked to make them more audience friendly. Most of the music, however, is actually new, including the expansive melodies in the strings near the beginning and at the end. Although it was not my intent, there are a few apparent elements that sound like a kaleidoscope, notably the spinning woodwind gestures at the beginning and the tinkling wind chimes that close the piece.

Kaleidoscope was finished in the summer of 2012 and premiered by the University of Ottawa Symphony Orchestra, directed by David Currie, on Feb. 8, 2013.

Composed in 2011 for Soprano, Flute and Guitar
Duration: 10 minutes
Advanced Student/Very Accessible
Published: Canadian Music Centre (Toronto)

Video of the Premiere