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Allan Rae is one of Canada's premiere composers, whose music in many genres is characterized by sure design, subtle sounds and expert craftsmanship. He was born in Blairmore, Alberta, July 3, 1942 and early on played the trumpet in community and school bands. Composition studies were at the Berklee College of Music, Boston, Massachusetts and at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. The recipient of many commissions he has also composed extensively for the theatre. His more recent works are of large canvas, for he says 'That's how long it takes to say what I need to say'.

Allan Rae

The Mirror of Galadriel was initially composed in 1977 for solo harp and was performed in Carnegie Hall. Allan Rae was later commissioned by Blair Layton to adapt the piece for orchestra and completed the task in 1982. It has not been performed in this form to date. [I will draw upon the solo harp recording for some musical examples. I first encountered the music in the orchestral version and have a preference for it; it seems to me that the music was conceived orchestrally. It must be said that the recording itself is sadly not ideal from a sonic point of view. Therefore I beg the listener's indulgence. This is but a taste...]

The five movements are:

1. Mirror of Galadriel
2. Passage of the Marshes
3. The Road goes ever on and on
4. Fog on Barrow Downs
5. Gathering of the Ents

Now, it will be noticed that Rae does not keep to the linear narrative, but displaces events in order to obtain a satisfying musical form. In essence, each movement is a tableaux, but the whole work is somehow Galadriel's. There is much to defend this interpretation. As last of the ancient High Elves of Noldor whose kin caused the degeneration of Middle Earth though their terrible Oath against the Darkness, Galadriel is custodian of the Mirror of Galadriel, last vestige of the original light of the Two Trees which once illumined the world. With each passing age the Light has been dissipated and reduced until it is but a memory, a small token or a reflection from the earliest golden time. This scattering has been aptly discussed in Splintered Light: Logos and Language in Tolkien's World -- an excellent and serious book by Verlyn Flieger. There we can learn that this Light is the thread that binds the Course of Time, motivates the events of Tolkien's mythology, is the source of purity and hope but also, when coveted by the evil at heart, the occasion of much evil. To frame the music using the mirror symbol is quite justified.

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Copyright © 1 January 2002 Gordon Rumson, Calgary, Alberta, Canada






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