with an eighth note pulse which gradually builds to
the return of the introductory melody.
The second movement is an up-tempo fugue distinguished by its
unusual subject which takes advantage of some unique aspects of the
guitar, such as string bending and campanella. This movement
contains an extensive coda which gradually transforms into a bell
like gesture utilizing artificial harmonics. The piece gradually
moves towards silence in one guitar part, through an increasingly
rapid cycle of pitches, while the other disperses energy only
through a broadening of the tempo.
I owe a tremendous amount of gratitude to both Tracy and Rob for
their input, patience and dedication to the work during and after
the compositional process.
… = 0, 1, 2, 3, 5 …). The work alternates between two
central ideas, melody and gesture, with the entrance, and length of
each aligning with the Golden Ratio.
Melody with Gesture was written for the National Arts Centre, where
it was premiered in Southam Hall by l’Orchestre Francophonie
Canadienne led by its Music Director and Conductor, Jean Philippe
Tremblay. This work won the Karen Keiser prize in music (CBC, U of
Download the score. Melody with Gesture
Written for cellist Rebecca Turner in the fall of 2006, the work
contains four primary movements which contain a set of variations
on the hymn ‘What Wondrous Love is This’. Breaking the traditional
role of theme and variations, the work begins with a secondary idea
before gradually falling into the theme nearing the end of the
first movement. This secondary idea is gradually developed over the
course of the work between the variations, both informing them, as
well as being informed by the theme itself until the two become
The work is highly virtuosic and contains many unconventional
techniques. For example, the fourth variation (movement III) asks
for the theme to be played on one string, while gently tapping the
string above at specific nodes to create overtone oscillations. And
the final variation is played entirely without the bow, and ends
the cellist rubbing the strings with the palm of the right hand
to create a tambura effect.
Download the score.
Cello Suite, variations on Wondrous Love
modes. Alternating between whole and half steps in
either direction around the central pitch 'Ab', a harmonic language
of tension and release is created by expanding and contracting the
Download the score.
On a Poem fo Baudelaire ‘Je t’adore à l’égal de la voûte nocturne’ from
Les Fleurs du Mal
No 6 Despondency
No 7 Postlude
‘Images’ was primarily conceived around the central voice of the
guitar with each of the seven movements serving as musical
commentary of an ‘image’ (Architecture, Despondency, Sadness etc.).
The movements surrounding the central fifth movements, Evening (Red
Tree), which draws inspiration from a painting by Dutch artist Piet
Mondrian are constructed as a palindrome, with the first, fourth
and seventh movements, and the thirds and the sixth corresponding
with one another. Although each of the movements is self contained,
series lies at the core of the work, serving as a
kind of underlying DNA. Images was written for guitarist Rob
MacDonald, whose poetic performance is a constant source of
Evening (Red Tree) Piet Mondrian
Download the score.
Download the score.
Written while living in Baltimore, Maryland in 2002 - 03, "String
Quartet in Three Movements" was heavily revised in the summer of
2007. The work begins with a slow variations on a repeated 5 note
descending figure which is gradually compounded by a melody which
returns in the final movement. In contrast to the first and last
movements, the second movement contains only pizzicato and
Download the score.
String Quartet in three movements
duo for Harp and Saxophone (written for Après)
Adagio and Fugue
(2007) - guitar duo
(written for ChromaDuo)
No 1 Adagio
No 2 Fugue
Completed in the Winter of 2007 in Toronto, Adagio and Fugue was
written for guitarists Tracy Anne Smith and Rob MacDonald.
Comprised of two contrasting movements, the work begins with a
highly melodic adagio containing two sections. The first states the
primary melody, and the second is characterized by a 5-note
Melody with Gesture
(2006) fl., ob., cl., bsn., hrn., celeste, 1 perc., +
(written for the National Arts Centre)
“0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8 …“ by dividing each number of this series
(Commonly known as the Fibonacci series) by its immediate
predecessor a reoccurring quotient emerges, “1.618…”, termed the
Golden ratio. These mathematical relationships form the basis of
the central principles of Melody with Gesture. The melodic,
harmonic, and structural pillars of the work are all derivatives of
this series. The work utilizes an octave specific synthetic scale
(as opposed to Major and Minor) which mirrors the first few digits
of the Fibonacci series (ex. D, Eb, E, F, G
(2006) variations on Wondrous
Love (written for Rebecca Turner)
No 1 Resonant; declarative
No 2 Ad libitum; Adagio
No 3 Adagio
No 4 March; sempre pizz.
On a poem of
Baudelaire (2006) ‘Je t’adore à l’égal de la voûte nocturne’ from Les Fleurs du
2 Vln, Vla, Accordion and Soprano (written for Kathryn
Written in the last few months of 2005, 'On a Poem' was written for
Soprano Kathryn Aaron using the text of French poet Charles
Baudelaire. With an underlying structure of a plagal cadence (IV -
I), the work has two separate sections separated with the entrance
of the voice. The harmony uses an octave specific mirrored scale
around the pitch 'Ab', and subsequently contains both Octatonic
(written for Rob MacDonald
and the Madawaska S.Q.)
No 1 Prelude and No 2 Architecture
No 3 Sadness
No 4 Interlude
No 5 Evening (Red Tree)
(2004) (written for Rob MacDonald)
Written in the summer of 2004 in Baltimore Maryland, the work
contains four short movements, with two slow inner movements
encapsulated by two faster movements. My first work for guitar, I
sought to exploit the natural beauty of the instrument while
retaining my own compositional voice
Commissioned by renowned guitarist Rob MacDonald (who was present
from conception to completion), the work owes a great deal to his
dedication to the work. Having been performed extensively
throughout North America and Europe since its completion, the work
still remains a staple of Mr. MacDonald.
String Quartet in three
movements (2002 - 03)
No 1 Variation on an ostinato
No 2 Sempre pizz.
No 3 Allegro
May 2007 Interviewed by Larry Lake for CBC Radio 2.
March 4th 2007
On March 4th at 10 pm Christopher Will be featured on "Two New
Hours" on CBC Radio 2 alongside broadcast of Melody with
January 31st 2007 Christopher has been awarded the Karen
Keiser Prize for the work “Melody with Gesture”.
The award ceremony and performance will take place January 31st
2007 at the CBC Glen Gould Studio.
BCGS Composition Commission Award
November 2008 ASCAPlus Award
July 2008 Christopher
relocates to Madison Wisconsin.
June 2007 Interview for the online journal Discourses
in Music by Roger Mantie. To read the interview go here:
Arizona State University. He is currently an active
composer and pianist living in Madison Wisconsin.
Mr. Pierce has been the recipient of many awards; in
2006 he was awarded the Karen Kieser Prize for his work Melody with
Gesture, written for the National Arts Centre where it was
premiered in Southam Hall by l’orchestre Francophonie Canadienne
led by its Music Director and Conductor Jean Philippe Tremblay. The
prize included cash, a nationally broadcast performance from Glen
Gould Studio on CBC Radio, and the complete classical collection of
the CBC label. Other prominent awards include the Macht Orchestral
Competition for Aquarelle which included a cash prize and
performance by the Peabody Symphony Orchestra; the Virginia Carty
de-Lillo Prize for chamber music for his String Quartet which
included prize money and performance by Quartato Invitato; and the
P. Bruce Blair Award in Composition for outstanding achievements
music from the Peabody Conservatory. He has also been
honored in recent years with fellowships and Grants from the
National Arts Centre where he worked with Gary Kulesha and Augusta
Reed Thomas, Peabody Conservatory, the Aspen Music Festival, and
the Leonard Bernstein Fund.
His works have been performed by many notable Orchestras and
Ensembles including the Arizona State University Symphony
Orchestra, Aspen Academy Orchestra, Orchestre Francophonie
Peabody Symphony Orchestra, São Paulo State Symphony, Aspen
Contemporary Ensemble, Interrobang Ensemble, New York Contemporary
Ensemble, Proteus Ensemble, and Quartato Invitato, to name a few.
An advocate of working closely with performers to create new works,
he has worked with many of the leading artists of his generation
including soprano Kathryn Aaron, accordionist Ina Henning,
guitarist Rob MacDonald and cellist
Among his recently completed works are Suite for Cello; Variations
on Wondrous Love (2006) for New Zealand born cellist Rebecca
Turner; Melody with Gesture(2006), for the National Arts Centre; On
a Poem of Baudelaire, ‘Je t'adore à l'égal de la voûte nocturne’
(2005) from Les Fleurs du Mal for high voice, accordion, two violin
and viola for Soprano Kathryn Aaron and Accordionist Ina Henning;
Images, for String Quartet and Guitar: Evening (Red Tree) (2005)
and Suite, for guitar (2004) for guitar virtuoso Rob MacDonald.
Currently he is much in demand with a growing list of commissions
by such ensembles as Après, ChromaDuo, and the San Francisco Guitar
pierce (at) christopherwilliampierce (dot) com
to download a copy of this bio click here
for an abbreviated version click here
Born in Arizona in 1974, Christopher William Pierce grew up in
Phoenix studying classical guitar. His primary studies were with
renowned guitarist Frank Koonce. While remaining active as a
performer, he began studying composition with composer James
DeMars, and later as a composition fellow with Christopher Rouse
and Nicholas Maw. His primary studies as a composer have been with
Gary Kulesha, Christopher Theofanidis, and Justin Dello-Joio. Mr.
Pierce holds degrees from the University of Toronto, Peabody
Conservatory of Music and