Aurora dances
version 2; for orchestra

Derek Charke
Derek Charke
Composition Date: 2010
Genre: Orchestra / Large Ensembles, Full Orchestra (20 or more)


Instrumentation Set Number 1:
  • 2 x Flute
  • 2 x Oboe
  • 2 x Clarinet
  • 2 x Bassoon
  • 2 x Horn
  • 2 x Trumpet
  • 1 x Percussion
  • 1 x Piano
  • 1 x Mixed chorus
  • 1 x Unspecified bowed strings
Instrumentation Set Number 2:
  • 1 x Full orchestra
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Programme Note:
Aurora Dances was composed for the Vancouver Symphony in 2000. This work uses large-scale harmonic motions derived through linear, conjunct movement of individual voices within chords. That is to say, chords change gradually as one or two notes in the chord shift to a new pitch. Tall chords – 9ths, 11ths & 13ths – as well as quartal and quintal harmonies – stacks of 4ths and 5ths – predominate the texture. Although the idea and title of this piece is the Aurora Borealis it is not really meant to be programmatic by means of depicting specific events musically. Structurally, however, these slowly shifting harmonies are meant to mimic the aurora. And perhaps the overall feeling of the piece might evoke the Northern Lights.
Aurora Dances has been completely revised and updated as of May, 2010. This new version is (1) for a smaller and more practical orchestra and (2) has been reworked slightly, both harmonically and more important, structurally. Overall the work flows better. Three minutes of music were ultimately removed, and several ideas were completely reworked. The work is essentially the same, but hopefully flows better and is structurally more consistent.
A big thanks goes to composer Rodney Sharman who made the initial work possible. He also persuaded the Vancouver Symphony to perform it, and helped with some of the technical aspects. This was over 10 years ago, and I hope this new version will give it another life.

Commissioned by: Vancouver Symphony

Premiere Information:
16/03/2002 Orpheum Theatre Vancouver Vancouver Symphony Conductor: Tanya Miller


  • Call Number:
  • MI 1100 C473au2
  • Genre:
  • Orchestra / Large Ensembles, Full Orchestra (20 or more)
  • Date of Acquisition:
  • May 7, 2010
  • Type:
  • Print-music, Published by CMC
  • Physical Description:
  • 1 score (63 p.) ;
    63 Pages
    Height: 39 cm
    Width: 28 cm
    Parts page count: 127
    19 parts ([127] p.) ;
    Height: 32 cm
  • Additional Information:
  • 2 Flutes
    2 Oboes
    2 Clarinets
    2 Bassoons (2nd doubles contrabassoon)

    2 Horns in F
    2 Trumpets in Bb

    1 Percussion *
    1 Piano

    Violin 1
    Violin 2
    Double Bass

    * Percussion:
    2 Almglocken (Cow Bells)
    1 Snare Drum
    1 Suspended Cymbal
    5 Temple Blocks
    2 Timpani
    1 Vibraphone
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Aurora Dances Version 2; for Orchestra: Score
(downloadable PDF)
Aurora dances version 2; for orchestra by Derek Charke (Score)
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