I began my work on the score of Sanctuary in late December, 2004.  It was around this time that the immense earthquake off the coast of Sumatra resulted in the deadly tsunami that struck numerous countries in and around the Indian Ocean.  The magnitude of the catastrophe was and still is mind boggling.  I, as countless others, could only watch in helpless horror and awe the news reports that described the unfolding and seemingly never-ending tragedy: vast numbers of dead and an even greater number of people for whom survival is now very much an issue as they have lost literally everything.

Sanctuary is my reaction to this cataclysmic event.  It is both a reflection on sanctuary lost and an expression of hope for those affected. 

The piece is divided into two movements.  The first movement is expansive in breadth and musical gesture.  My aim is to depict an imaginary haven, a vast landscape that slowly evolves overtime.  References and allusions are made to the musics of various Eastern cultures, though filtered through a Western viewpoint. Numerous solos emerge and fade back into the texture.  They are like the voices of individuals that are heard briefly before passing on. 

The opening of the second movement shatters the idyllic mood established by the first.  My intention here is not to depict musically a tsunami, it is rather to convey the sense of loss, confusion and despair that arises when a situation spirals out of control, when decisions are taken away and a person is guided by irresistible outside forces.  The piece ends with a sparse and fragmented return to the soloistic material from the first movement.

Sanctuary was commissioned by the Esprit Orchestra with the financial assistance of CBC Radio Canada and the Canada Council for the Arts