Roses and Silk
for women's voices and orchestra (2011)
by Ron Hannah


Duration: about 5 minutes

     Upon my return to Canada after years of wandering the world, I resumed something I had been missing all that time: I joined a choir, specifically the Chilliwack Symphony Chorus, since that is where I found myself at the time of writing. Choral singing is a true joy, and when an orchestra is present I find it difficult to keep singing - I just want to put down my music and listen!


    The group is conducted by an energetic and talented lady named Paula DeWit, and my piece is dedicated to her and to a sub-group of the chorus, called the Show Choir. This all-female group does lighter pieces and show tunes, often accompanied by simple choreography that can be very effective. I set out to write a crowd-pleaser, since that is what this group does best, and I think I succeeded. My orchestration is small: strings, flute (doubling piccolo), horn and bass clarinet (or optional bassoon). The only regrettable thing is that, as far as I know, Paula and the Show Choir have never performed it.

     Nevertheless, the secret of its success is plagiarism. Thoughout, I have employed the harmonic progressions and melodic constructs found in a tiny and perfect gem of a keyboard work entitled "Solfeggietto", by C.P.E. Bach. Pianists will know this clever bonbon, and I play it often with great pleasure. Putting it together with words by Amy Lowell, my favourite poet, adds up to a work I am proud of.

The Painter on Silk

There was a man who made his living
By painting roses upon silk.
He sat in an upper chamber and painted,
And the noises of the street meant nothing to him.

When he heard bugles, and fifes, and drums, he thought of red, and yellow, and white roses
Bursting in the sunshine, and smiled as he worked.
He thought only of roses, and silk.
When he could get no more silk he stopped painting
And only thought of roses.

The day the conquerors entered the city,
The old man lay dying.
He heard the bugles and drums,
And wished he could paint the roses bursting into sound.

Amy Lowell's poetry is among the most evocative I have ever found. I have set, and re-set, her poems many times over the years. Please visit
this link for a listing of all of my works on Miss Lowell's poetry; songs for solo voice and for choir, with chamber ensemble accompaniment, even with orchestral accompaniment. She is MY poet!

The full score can be obtained by clicking above, and parts are available by sending me an email or through the Canadian Music Center. My only restriction is that if you perform this piece, that you inform me so that I can keep this website up-to-date.