Beautiful Dreaming

Beautiful Dreaming
Image credit: Steven Stefaniuk - MacEwan University

If anyone is entitled to bandy about the word “Master,” I’ll let Allan Gilliland be one of them. He probably knows one when he encounters it.

For those who may have missed this chapter in ESO history, Allan was the second-ever Composer in Residence with the Edmonton Symphony, and was with us officially from 1999 to 2004. He’s now some hotshot PhD guy at MacEwan University, but we knew him when…

Allan wrote many fine works during his time with the ESO, and one of the more interesting ones has become a franchise. In 2005, Allan composed a “jazz concerto” for James Campbell, virtuoso clarinetist and dear ESO friend (he’s coming back next season! Yay!). Allan decided to pay homage to past “masters” of jazz clarinet, while allowing Jim Campbell to improvise as well, and he called the piece Dreaming of the Masters.

It worked, and worked well. And thus was born a series. Dreaming of the Masters II followed in 2008, subtitled Rhapsody GEB and written for ESO Music Director and pianist William Eddins. Dreaming of the Masters III premiered in September 2010, written for Edmonton trumpeter Jens Lindemann, Allan’s good friend (and the second concerto Gilliland had written with Jens in mind). We took this concerto (and Jens, too, for that matter) to Carnegie Hall in 2012 and damn near set the place on fire.

While, the time has come once more, and Allan’s latest Dreaming of the Masters will be unveiled this weekend. At both the Robbins Pops concerts on Friday & Saturday (January 19 & 20 at 8 pm) and the Sunday Showcase concert on Sunday (January 21 at 2 pm), legendary Edmonton saxophonist P.J. Perry becomes the latest master to present a Gilliland jazz concerto.

“My approach to Dreaming of the Masters IV was quite different from the previous three concertos,” writes Allan Gilliland in the program note he supplied to us (read more here), “because rather than looking for inspiration from past jazz masters, I’m working with one, the great P.J. Perry. Where the previous concertos had optional sections of improvisation, this concerto has numerous sections that let PJ be the jazz master that he is.”

I hope you can join us, and for those of you coming on Sunday, stick around after the concert. Allan, P.J. (and our young clarinet soloist, David Dias da Silva) will be on hand to answer your questions. Like maybe who number five will be for?

D.T. Baker