...the wide world of Ron Hannah

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Last Updated October 10, 2017


am a composer, heir to Beethoven, Bartok and all great musical masters of the past and the present. It is a rich inheritance, full of the finest that the human mind has to offer. I react physically to music. I have found myself standing at the end of a piece of music when I distinctly remember having been seated when it began, and not remembering how or when I stood. The wildest feelings of freedom, power and exaltation are evinced in me by great music. The downside of it is that I cannot avoid listening even to poorly constructed sounds such as one hears endlessly today on commercial radio and TV. Muzak in a restaurant spoils an otherwise splendid evening, and I always insist on leaving when the music begins to repeat. But my greatest sorrow is that people everywhere do not seem to experience the same profound depths of pleasure and feelings of oneness with mankind that great art of any sort engenders. Instead poor cousins abound: cheap sitcoms and soap operas substitute for drama, four-square boring pop songs pretend to music, professional sport masquerades as something substantive...

     This is not snobbery. A snob believes he is better than others and wishes to exclude them. I wish for all to come to (at least) my level of understanding of the world and of art and to achieve the breathless pleasure that I feel when a work of art challenges the intellect and piques the emotions. I am an elitist in this regard, but I believe that the elite will disappear one day as ignorance is slowly eradicated and all persons come to realize their potential.

     The music I write is modern to be sure, but it has firm roots in its heritage. I love a good melody but I am also aware of the power of dissonance and texture to add drama to a work. For example, here is a movement of my Suite of Orchestral Dances. About a minute in, the solo violin plays a sweetly sad Balinese Lullaby but the woodwinds behind are playing notes in imitation of birdsounds whose pitches are specified but whose rhythm is entirely at the players' discretion: a fine mix of melody and aleatoric technique. This suite was commissioned by the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and is based upon folksongs, one from each inhabited continent and played without a break as is consistent with my belief in the oneness of humanity. The Australian Melody utilizes some authentic didjeridu rhythms and a real aboriginal melody (heard on the muted trumpet near the start) and contains later my depiction of the arid outback. I hope you can feel the sweaty languor and see Uluru (Ayers Rock) shimmering in the distance. Music has magical power but only if you allow it sway.

Incidentally the full score of the Suite of Orchestral Dances may be downloaded from this site, as may several other of my works - I am adding more all the time.

     If you've read to this point (and even listened to the examples) I commend you and hail a kindred spirit. Perhaps a list of my works would interest you. And here is a parting musical gift: the 3rd movement from my Piano Trio #1. Listen for the quick 11/8 rhythm. This is one of those pieces that just flowed out of me one day, unbidden, but certainly not unwelcome. I wish that kind of intense inspiration would happen more often!

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