Popular in Italy and France from the 16th to 18th centuries, the commedia dell’arte featured stock characters identified by their masks. The related Harlequinade was a theatrical mime genre that developed in the mid 17th-19th centuries in England. This version contained a slapstick element in which Harlequin courted Columbine while Columbine’s father and a mischievous Clown plotted against the lovers. Pierrot, the servant, competed for Columbine’s love while being involved in chaotic escapes and chase scenes.
Although there is no specific plot suggested in my Harlequinade for viola and orchestra, the spirit of the tradition is retained. There are sections of work that suggest amorous liaisons, madcap chases and escapes. These events lead to the inevitably tragic outcome that is almost always the outcome of a love triangle.
Composed in 2014, Harlequinade was written for Todd Sullivan and Allegro, The Chamber Orchestra of Lancaster.