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Blood Upon the Body, Ice Upon the Soul

    SOLO VIOLIN, 2*2*2*2  4*3*3*1 Timpani (5 drums), 2 Perc, Piano/Celeste, Harp, Strings, [Percussion Requirements:  Percussion 1: Chimes, Xylophone, Roto-toms, High Suspended Cymbal, Tam-tam, Crotales (set) with bow and beater, Finger Cymbals, Wind Chimes (

    Duration: ca. 20 minutes
    Composed: 2006

    Programme Note: Blood Upon the Body, Ice Upon the Soul

    1. Grace
    2. Power
    3. Future

    The concerto is in three movements and lasts roughly 20 minutes. The first movement is predominantly slow and icy, but with moments of loudness, violence, and surprise. The second movement is very fast, rhythmic, and powerful. The violin almost controls the orchestra, setting into motion a frenzy of activity for his own amusement. The second movement ends with a loud crash out of which a different element of the violin’s personality emerges. Through the cadenza, the violin pleads, sighs, and rants, encapsulating the methods of a manipulative personality. The third movement is slow and dramatic. It is plaintive and apologetic because the character is unsure whether he faces his doom or his salvation.

    For the title, I adapted a line from the Leonard Cohen song, The Butcher. The inspiration for the piece was my experience of living next door to a sociopath, who was inevitably convicted of a gruesome murder. As Gandhi pointed out, “in the end, they always fall–think of it, always!” In coping with the many feelings evoked by this situation, I did some research into sociopathic behavior. In one study, Canadian and U.S. researchers reported that they used brain-imaging technology to observe that psychopaths processed certain abstract words (such as grace, future, and power), differently than non psychopaths. This became the core of the entire piece.

    Blood Upon the Body, Ice Upon the Soul was written for Stephen Sitarski. It was commissioned by the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra through the generous support of the Ontario Arts Council. Although the piece recounts a very personal story for me, I knew that Mr. Sitarski could bring the concerto to life.

    Premiere: First performance by the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra and Stephen Sitarski, Kitchener-Waterloo, March 31/April 1, 2006.

    Score Excerpt [PDF]

    Performed by Steven Sitarski, violin, and the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra, David Lockington, conductor.
    Kelly-Marie Murphy, composer