Ships and Flags: a 2012 Overture
for orchestra

Composition Date: 2012
Duration: 00:12:30
Genre: Orchestra / Large Ensembles, Full Orchestra (20 or more)


Instrumentation Set Number 1:
  • 1 x Full orchestra
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Programme Note:
Ships and Flags: a 2012 Overture was commissioned by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for a concert that was the climax of the 2012 Tall Ships Festival in Halifax, Nova Scotia. It took place on the Halifax Waterfront on the 21st July 2012. The concert was recorded by the CBC and broadcast nationally at a later date.The Overture celebrates the ships that sailed into Halifax Harbour, flying the flags of the settlers and immigrants who came to make a new home. The opening music evokes the ships in full sail, and the ship‐themes are interwoven throughout the work with folk songs and dances from many cultures that make up what Canada is today. The folk songs are presented in historical order, from the Mik’maq Honour Song to the Greek dance that is heard just before the final coda.A little more detail about the tunes: after the initial ship theme, there is the Mi'kmaq Honour Song (played on English horn), then an English folksong, an Acadian folksong (Quand J'étais Chez Mon Père), then both heard together. The next section has a Scottish fiddle tune and an Irish air on the flute. After that is a procession of tunes: Muss‐i‐denn? (German) and In Holland Staat Een Huis (guess which country ‐ played on the flutes), then the strings play Oh Freedom (Canada was a refuge for slaves before Emancipation – their descendants are a significant part of the Halifax community). After that is an Italian Tarantella, a Portuguese dance, a Lebanese dance, a Ukrainian village song, a Hanukah song, and then the Greek dance (I couldn't include every culture, sadly). After a build up and climax, in which Oh Freedom is quoted in the trombones and trumpets (396), there is a winding down, then O Canada and Star Spangled Banner are quietly stated before a return to the ship music.

Premiere Information:
21 July 2012, Halifax Waterfront, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Tall Ships Orchestra; Martin MacDonald, conductor


  • Call Number:
  • MI 1100 P173shi
  • Genre:
  • Orchestra / Large Ensembles, Full Orchestra (20 or more)
  • Date of Acquisition:
  • November 30, 2016
  • Type:
  • Print-music, Published by CMC
  • Physical Description:
  • Score
    76 Pages
    Height: 43 cm
    Width: 28 cm
    Parts page count: 1
  • Additional Information:
  • 2(picc),2+ca,2,2/4,2,3,1/timp/perc/str

    Commissioned by: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)
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