Dedication to Dad

by Anthony Ritchie, for soprano, choir, orchestra, Opus 160

Celebratory piece for soprano, choir, orchestra, for John Ritchie's 90th birthday concert, November 26, 2011.

Programme Note

Dedication to Dad! was commissioned by The Christchurch Civic Music Council to celebrate the 90th birthday of my father, John Ritchie. It is designed as a massed item for quick learning, and can be performed by a variety of types of ensemble.

The piece is based on two themes by John Ritchie, taken from his famous Clarinet Concertino (1957). The opening melody on clarinet is a waltz version of the main theme from the Clarinet Concertino's 3rd movement, while the change to 4/4 time heralds the appearance of the 1st movement's main theme. These themes are subject to variations, including a slow choral variation, with soprano solo, which sets words by Shakespeare, from The Tempest. A short fugue prior to this is based on the inversion of the 4/4 theme. The waltz returns at the end to round off the piece, now transformed into a new, brighter mode, and the music slips into the song Happy Birthday - the second time through this is designed for audience participation.

Two other motifs are worth noting: the timpani's D-A-D near the opening, which needs no explanation, and an unsettling idea on the lower instruments at bar 46, which begins with the motif c-b-c-b-c-b. Re-spelt using the traditional German note names this motif reads C-H-C-H-C-H, and is a reference to John Ritchie's home town, Christchurch. Its unsettled character is due to the shaky year of earthquakes it has recently experienced.

The premiere performance took place in the CBS Arena, Christchurch, on November 24, 2011, under the baton of Bill Hawkey. Bill also helped advise the composer with this score, and for that I am very grateful. Thanks also goes to Graeme Wallis for his help with organizing this commission and concert.