Instrumentation Harp and percussion (one player)
Percussion requirements  lg. tamtam, mba, vib, glock, bell tree, kalimba, conga (or tumbadore), lg. bass dr, large susp. cymbal, finger cymbals (pair), 2 susp. roaster pan lids, sistrum, riq (or tambourine), 4 suspended metal pots (pitched high to low), 2 (differently-sized) prepared brake drums, susp. exhaust pipe, high claves, med. woodblock, 4 plastic buckets

Timing 11’15” in three connected movements

Composed 1999

Written for the Gemmell Wassmansdorf Duo with the support of the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council

World Premiere April 5, 2000, Glenn Gould Studio, CBC Broadcast Centre, Toronto, Ontario. Erica Goodman, harp, and Beverley Johnston, percussion

Recorded by Erica Goodman and Beverley Johnston on Quantum Mechanics: Chamber Music of Jeffrey Ryan

Programme Notes

The Arabic word simoom translates as “poison wind” and is the name given to a small local wind in Arabia and the Sahara. This wind is so hot (up to 55°C) and dry (with less than 10% humidity) that it has a tendency to cause heatstroke. Today, though, the high levels of urban air pollution have created another kind of “poison wind,” affecting both local environments and the global ecosystem.

This work for harp and percussion finds its inspiration in the power of nature to fight back as the Earth struggles to balance and repair itself. It is in three connected movements. After a majesterial opening, the first movement looks to the simoom in its evocation of the swirling, rising winds. The second movement is more spacious, becoming more introspective and contemplative. The third movement brings the music to our modern industrial times with vigorous drumming, propulsive energy and driving rhythms.

PDF perusal score

Poison Wind perusal



Score video by Canadian Music Centre BC

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