For orchestra, children’s choir, and three choirs 

When Freedman was commissioned to compose a work for the CBC’s Barbara Frum Atrium in Toronto, the architectural configuration of that space brought to his mind the antiphonal music of the sixteenth-century Venetian composer Giovanni Gabrieli, with its brass choirs echoing one another in the galleries of St. Mark’s Cathedral. Borealis makes use of such antiphonal and spatial effects. It also, as its title suggests (Borealis being Latin for “of the north”), draws inspiration from another awe-inspiring space: the frozen vastness of the Arctic. For Freedman, growing up in Winnipeg, where he often saw the Aurora Borealis or “northern lights,” the North was an important creative influence. This composition celebrates what Glenn Gould memorably called “the idea of North”—not only its mystique but its dramatic and forceful aspects as well. The text used in the piece is an abstraction of Inuit and other aboriginal languages.

Performed by:
Danish National Radio Choir
Swedish Radio Choir
Elmer Iseler Singers
Toronto Children's Chorus
Toronto Symphony Orchestra