Instrumentation flute, harp and viola

Timing 15’30”

Composed 1998

Commissioned by Music Umbrella with funding from the Ontario Arts Council

World Premiere January 23, 1999, Eastminster United Church, Toronto, Ontario. Carol Savage, flute; Anthony Rapoport, viola; Lori Gemmell, harp

Programme Notes

The term Fata Morgana has a double meaning. First, it is the Latin name of Morgan le Fay, half-sister to King Arthur, and the Arthurian version of Morrighan, the Celtic goddess of death and war. She is associated with visions, seduction and enticement, and while many of the legends depict her determination to defeat and kill Arthur and to destroy all that he loved, others focus on her gifts of magic and healing. Second, Fata Morgana is the name given to an unusual double mirage that has appeared over the Strait of Messina in Italy, where Morgan’s secret underwater crystal palace is reputed to be. The mirage is created when sudden changes in air density with height cause light waves to be bent. These distorted visions have appeared as boats, buildings and people suspended over the water.

This trio for flute, viola and harp finds its inspiration in both of these meanings. The music is alternately angry, ferocious and aggressive, then sultry and seductive. A gently rocking and enticing middle section turns to music that is more transparent and spacious, with many “bent” pitches, which is eventually transformed into a whirling death-dance.

PDF perusal score

Fata perusal

Audio excerpt


An excerpt from Fata Morgana serves as the soundtrack to director Hagan Carlile’s short dance film tribute to early cinema.

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