List of Work
2006 / FLUTE, HARP, AND STRING ORCHESTRA
The Flute Concerto received its premiere with the MCO on October 12, 2006. It was written for flautist Leslie Newman and runs the gamut from a moody, harp-driven nocturne in the first movement to a bluesy, Gershwin-inspired second movement to an arch habenera and cascading cadenza in the third.
I. Introduction and Gigue
II. Slow Blues
III. Vivo; Habenera
Suite for Strings
2005 / STRING ORCHESTRA
Suite for Strings was written for the MCO over the spring and summer of 2005. In each of the three movements I tried to explore a particular quality of the string orchestra.
The first movement features its driving, percussive side, inspired in equal parts by Bela Bartok and George Martin.
The second movement, a moderate waltz, explores the lyrical, delicate side of the string orchestra, as well as its playful, whimsical side: Satie meets the Wizard of Oz.
The third and final movement is a slightly demented scherzo with a nod to Bernard Herrmann and explores the dancing, sprightly, exotic side of the string section. Intentionally cinematic in tone, the piece ends with a cartwheeling unison line scored for the entire ensemble.
II. Mouvement de Valse Modéré
2004 / TRUMPET, HARP, AND STRING ORCHESTRA
Silent Town was originally composed for Larry Larson, principal trumpet of the Kitchener Waterloo Symphony in 2001 as a single movement only. A second movement was added a year later and was premiered in February, 2004.
The title is an homage to one of my favourite composers, Aaron Copland, and his work for trumpet, English horn and strings called Quiet City. One of the qualities I have always admired about Copland is his ability to combine the profound with the accessible; he was never afraid of writing something unabashedly beautiful, even though he was certainly capable of being as dissonant and aggressive as any other 20th century composer.
With Silent Town, I have tried simply to do the former: write something beautiful for trumpet, the instrument I started my professional career with, and string orchestra, an ensemble that continues to bewitch me with endless possibilities of colour and expression.
Suite for Clarinet and String Orchestra
The first movement of Suite for Clarinet and String Orchestra, Hannah’s Dance, is a lilting waltz and was inspired by the theme to the CBC radio show Music for a While. It is named after my youngest daughter, a fine dancer.
The following three movements include a Satie-esque Pastorale and a sneaky Andante Misterioso and Hoedown. The piece ends with a whirlwind Vivace that was adapted for an episode of CBC’s The Nature of Things about bees.
I. Hannah’s Dance
III. Andante Misterioso
Concertino for Cello
2013 / SOLO CELLO AND ORCHESTRA
This piece was written in celebration of the Montreal Chamber Orchestra’s 40th season and is dedicated to my wife, Anita, an enthusiastic amateur cellist.
It was premiered by American cellist Cicely Parnas in Montreal on December 10, 2013.
The first movement begins, after a brief introduction, with a Bach-inspired arpeggiated passage for solo cello and then is joined by a piccolo trumpet (I was a professional trumpet player in a former life...) The general feeling is meant to be celebratory, joyous and youthful.
The second movement begins with a more somber, elegiac approach, a reflection on mortality and the possibility of loss, and then is followed by a spirited, Russian-influenced dance, a nod to Anita’s father’s Eastern European heritage.
In the third and final movement, after a short solo pizzicato section, the cello plays a sinuous, seductive tune that undergoes a number of variations, followed by a cadenza where the opening movement’s theme is reiterated and then joined by the full orchestra for a big rousing finale.
2013 / CHAMBER ORCHESTRA
II. Slowly; Fast
Three Miniatures for Brass Quintet
III Tempo di tango
Narrator, trumpet and orchestra
Text and narrator: David Baxter
Quartet for Flute, Violin, Viola and Cello
The first movement is in a fast 3 and is a feature for the flute, displaying its delightful agility and ability to evoke the magical and mysterious.
In the second movement I tried to feature all the instruments more equally; it starts with a pastoral, folklore-ish theme on solo cello that is then handed off to the viola.
There is a melodramatic/romantic middle section before returning to the pastoral theme and then it goes directly into a completely new vivace section.
Starting with a spritely, dancing flute melody over pizzicato strings, it goes through a reiteration of one of the romantic middle section themes, ending with an agitato coda in 5/8.
The third and final movement is an adaptation of the habanera from my flute concerto.
The quartet is dedicated to my granddaughter, our first, Pippa Olive Palmer, born March 7, 2018. I started writing the piece basically right after she was born and worked on it in her presence a lot of the time for the duration of it.
Serenade for Clarinet and Winds
solo clarinet, double winds, 2 horns, bass and timpani/perc
trumpet and harp
arrangement of the Flute Concerto for flute and piano
Three Bagatelles for Two Trumpets and Piano
Fantasia on Two Newfoundland Songs
solo horn and orchestra
brass quintet and orchestra
Parts and Scores available for rent or purchase at the Canadian Music Centre.
CMC Associate Composer page: Canadian Music Centre
Cinématique is a collection of Jim McGrath's concert music from the past several years.It was recorded in Montreal with the Montreal Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Wanda Kaluzny and features Leslie Newman, flute and Larry Larson, trumpet.
In the words of the composer: "This CD reflects my love of 20th century classical music and other influences from the pop and film music worlds, from Copland, Bartok and Prokofiev to George Martin, Bernard Herrmann and Lalo Shiffrin."
Also included is a piece recorded in Toronto with clarinetist Joaquin Valdepeñas and a studio string ensemble, conducted by the composer.