Home 9 Composers 9 James Rolfe

Toronto composer James Rolfe (b. 1961) has been commissioned and performed by soloists, ensembles, orchestras, choirs, theatres and opera companies in Canada, the USA, Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. He has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, the K. M. Hunter Music Award, the Louis Applebaum Composers Award, the Jules Léger Prize for New Chamber Music, SOCAN’s Jan V. Matejcek Concert Music Award, a Chalmers Arts Fellowship, and the Outstanding Choral Work Award from the Association of Canadian Choral Communities. Mr. Rolfe’s opera Beatrice Chancy was produced in Toronto, Dartmouth, and Edmonton by The Queen of Puddings Music Theatre Company, which later premiered Inês, nominated for a Dora Award. The children’s opera Elijah’s Kite was premiered in New York by Tapestry Opera with the Manhattan School of Music. Three masques–Orpheus and Eurydice, Aeneas and Dido, and Europa–were mounted by The Toronto Masque Theatre to critical and audience acclaim. Swoon was premiered by the Canadian Opera Company, which has since commissioned a new opera, Crush, given a workshop production at The Banff Centre in July 2015. Current projects include a work for Coleman Lemieux Dance with choreographer James Kudelka and writer Alex Poch-Goldin, premiering in May 2016, and a new operatic version of Gogol’s The Overcoat for Tapestry Opera and Vancouver Opera with writer Morris Panych, premiering in fall 2017.

A Flower Was Offer'd to Me

by James Rolfe

SSAA – a cappella  – CP 1099
The first of J. Rolfe’s “Three Compositions for Women’s Voices”.
This work explores possession and desire, jealousy and rejection, using simple musical means to express Blake’s deceptively simple words.


by James Rolfe – poem by Luke Hathaway

SSA    –   CP 1430    – 4:35  
The Lady Cove Women’s Choir commissioned and premiered this beautiful piece.  Listen to the stellar performance. Sung by Mary to her Holy Child this lullaby is not baby-talk – but rather poses difficult questions about the future. Suitable any time of year (not only at Yuletide)

O You Whom I Often

by James Rolfe 

SSAA    –   CP 1101   – 1:35
“O You Whom I Often” gives voice to the powerful longing in Whitman’s, a quiet but steady flame, inextinguishable. This is the third of J. Rolfe’s “Three Compositions for Women’s Voices”.

Sleep, Sleep, Beauty Bright

by James Rolfe

SSAA – a cappella  – CP 1100
This piece (the second of J. Rolfe’s “Three Compositions for Women’s Voices”) reflects the quiet intimacy of the Blake lullaby, portraying a sleeping infant’s soft smiles and little frowns, as watched tenderly by loving parents