Once Upon a Time
for string quartet and soundfiles
2 violins, viola, cello and soundfiles
“Once Upon a Time" reflects on our ability to start new stories and dream new dreams, even as we
acknowledge they will likely come up short. The work is steeped in nostalgia - not a personal nostalgia,
but a nostalgia for times of greater optimism. In the mid-1960s ago astronauts looked down upon the
uncanny beauty of territories that continue to be places of conflict and looked for the first time at
weather systems from above. Today we dream of travel to Mars while in a state of alarm about our
planet’s health. Somehow we dance on. The sounds of funk and disco colour the piece via quotations,
misquotations and allusions to various musics. Added to the mix are the more overt sounds of disco,
which join in the second movement of this two movement piece.
“Once Upon a Time” was written for and premiered by the Penderecki String Quartet as part of the
2015 “Guelph Lecture – On Being Canadian”.