Instrumentation 2(2nd dbl. picc.)/2/2/2; 4/2/3/1; timp + 2 perc; harp; concertino strings; orchestral strings
Percussion requirements (1) glock, chimes, steel dr (or pitched gong), bass dr, sm. susp. cymbal, high anvil, triangle, metal wind chimes, 2 tamtams (med./lg.), vibraslap, chocollo, police whistle, whip; (2=student percussionists) metal pot lids, party noises, tin cans, paper bag, water drums, glass bottles, shakers, counter bells, wind wands

Timing 20′ in five movements

Composed 1999

Commissioned by the Guelph Spring Festival with funding from the Canada Council Millennium Arts Fund

World Premiere May 26, 2000, River Run Centre, Guelph, Ontario. Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony; Concorde Ensemble (Suzuki String School of Guelph) and student percussionists; Anthony Elliott, conductor (part of the Guelph Spring Festival)

Performances by Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, North Bay Symphony, Dexter Community Orchestra

Programme Notes

Coming Together
The Long Dark Night
Double Helix

As a work commissioned to celebrate the year 2000, And The Children Shall Lead explores, in musical terms, some of the significant events and developments of the twentieth century. In narrowing down my choices, I realised that virtually every new development has had both a light side and a dark side. I also realised that for Canada, formed in 1867, the twentieth century is really the history of this country as a separate and unique entity.

This work uses a wide range of musical forces and abilities. Along with a conventional orchestra, a concertino string group has been added, to be played by advanced student-level players; and a large group of students comprise the second percussion group, playing a number of “found-object” instruments. For the première performance, I knew that the concertino role would be filled by players from the Suzuki String School of Guelph, and so, in keeping with the theme of the work, the song O Come Little Children (included in the first book of Suzuki repertoire) was used as a source for some of the musical material, and fragments of this song can be heard at certain dramatic points in the piece.

The first movement, Coming Together, is a processional that celebrates the “coming together” of people to Canada from around the world, creating a country rich in diversity. In this movement, the clarinet calls the players to the stage in a celebratory “immigration ritual.” The second movement, Advance, explores two vastly different kinds of advance. First, technological and scientific advance is represented by a kind of “machine music.” Midway through this movement, however, technology and science become transformed into military advance.

After the explosive ending of the second movement, the third movement, The Long Dark Night, is played by the student groups. This movement takes the form of a reflective meditation on what has been wrought. The student players are then joined by the orchestra for the fourth movement, Double Helix, which looks at medical advancement to suggest a kind of “looking within” in a search for answers, which eventually leads to the darkest places inside; then the search turns outward to the space beyond us. This becomes transformed into the final movement, Prayer, which opens by calling to the children; then the concertino strings join the orchestral strings in a prayer for the future, culminating in a joyful evocation of play from the student percussionists.

And The Children Shall Lead was commissioned by the Guelph Spring Festival with the assistance of the Canada Council Millennium Arts Fund. It received its première performance at the River Run Centre in Guelph, Ontario, on May 26, 2000, and was performed by the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, the Concorde Ensemble from the Suzuki String School of Guelph, and Grade 8 students from Mitchell Woods, Mary Phelan, Holy Rosary, Taylor Evans, and St. Michael’s schools in Guelph, all conducted by Anthony Elliott.


Ryan has a gift for bringing out the best in community music-making, and including tomorrow’s performers in the process. (Colleen Johnston/Kitchener-Waterloo Record)

PDF perusal score

And the Children Shall Lead perusal


US premiere performance by the Dexter Community Orchestra, with students from Wylie Elementary School and the Community Music School of Ann Arbor, conducted by Anthony Elliott, in Dexter, Michigan.

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