Music hath charms.......

On the following pages I would like to introduce you to a couple of my own compositions. The pieces I wish to describe here are vocal chamber works which have been two of the most frequently performed of my works. I particularly liked to set poetry of colleagues and the two pieces referred to on this and the following page are exactly that. Just as the poems are of a very different character, the settings I have given them are also stylistically quite different as described in what follows. As with examples you have listened to on previous pages, recordings available are of less than pristine quality.

Please note that as with all recordings mentioned on this site, they were made from "live" performances under my direction.

Instructions for listening
Previously I had placed MP3 versions on the site for listening as with the historical works on previous pages.
Now, however, the Canadian Music Centre is responsible for
all of my works, keeping a thorough set of notes, premiere information, and an archive of recordings in full CD audio format.
The recordings at the CMC, though flawed as recordings, now feature a superior streaming listening experience. And various performances are available to hear while protecting copyright.
To access the archival recordings, registration is required, but it is easy and free.
You may locate me under the Menu “Find a Composer”. Search under “

I am particularly honoured that an Anniversary Season of the Lethbridge Symphony Orchestra was dedicated to a retrospective of my work.
Please see the relevant brochure.

Drifting into Grey © 1980

This is a song cycle of four poems by University of Lethbridge Professor Emeritus William Latta. It was a great pleasure to receive permission for this project. The work is scored for tenor voice, oboe, violin, cello, percussion, and piano. Written for noted recording artist Willard Cobb, tenor, who performed the premiere with the chamber ensemble Musaeus including: Steward Grant, oboe; Norbert Boehm, violin; Joanne Grant, cello; Paul Walker, percussion; and Elinor Lawson, piano. The first live performance was at the University of Lethbridge in 1980. A number of other performances followed including a recording by the CBC for radio broadcast. Some of the old tapes have been professional re-mastered by Steve Turnidge at Ars Divina (see link on the Postlude page) and all are available at the CMC site in full CD audio quality.

The Canadian prairies stretch for over 2000 km in what seems an endless flatness until they reach the Canadian Shield of Ontario in the East and the Rocky Mountains that form the border of Alberta and British Columbia in the West. Winter is stark. There are, of course, places of elevation which defy the overall impression, but it is this stark yet strangely beautiful landscape and its angular relationship to the Rockies that Latta portrays in his beautiful and minimalistic poetry. I have tried to capture these qualities by using a palette of colours in an expanded tonal style which itself is somewhat stark and cold, evoking, I hope, the spirit of Latta's poems.

Ahead of me
the mountains move
their icy edges
against the belly of the sky.
Their granite danger
is lulled by haze
and distance.
This road runs insistently
as I drive across
the glacier scoured plain.
What coldness awaits
is anybody's guess.

With our modest fires
we warm our winter shivers
spending our slight fuel.

Scornful eagle turns
high above our twilit land
sun flaring his wings.

Even the evergreens
scowl black
against the sifting white
covering almost everything.
Here and there
a scattering of rocks
their angular raggedness foreign
in this muted undulation.
I stalk disappearing paths
a small grey figure
also out of place
among these trees
and in this white cold
beneath their wrought-iron limbs.

moonless night
the stars a wonderment
as we cross the polished ice
of the cracking black lake
not a cloud
to cloud the deep distance
below and above
a diadem of dusty light
a confidentiality
of life and sky and ice.

My small son sings questions
of being-------
larger than he knows.
His eyes twinkle at me
with stars.
I give him back diamonds.
We laugh frost.

Poetry - William Latta ©