Home 9 Composers 9 Rodney Sharman

Rodney Sharman (b. 1958)  lives in Vancouver, BC. He has been  Composer-in-Residence with the Victoria Symphony, the National Youth Orchestra of Canada and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. In addition to concert music, Rodney Sharman writes music for cabaret, opera and dance. He works regularly with choreographer James Kudelka, for whom he has written scores for Oregon Ballet Theatre, San Francisco Ballet and  Coleman Lemieux & Co. (Toronto). Sharman was awarded First Prize in the 1984 CBC Competition for Young Composers and the 1990 Kranichsteiner Prize in Music, Darmstadt, Germany. His chamber opera, Elsewhereless, a collaboration with Atom Egoyan, premiered in 1998 and has been staged 35 times internationally. His score for the music-dance-theatre piece, From The House Of Mirth, won the 2013 Dora Mavor Moore Award for outstanding sound design/composition (choreography by James Kudelka, text by Alex Poch Goldin after Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth). He was a 2014 Djerassi Artist-in-Residence, Woodside, California.

ADDER - (from "Lost Words")

by Rodney Sharman

SATB with piano and percussion – CP 2189 – duration 3:40

Adder is a more sibilant incantation, evoking a more repetitive, rhythmic setting, ornamented with
percussive sound.

When the most recent edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary – widely used in schools around the world – was published, a sharp-eyed reader soon noticed that around forty common words concerning nature had been dropped. The words were no longer being used enough by children to merit their place in the dictionary. The list of these “lost words” included acorn, adder, bluebell, dandelion, fern, heron, kingfisher, newt, otter, and willow. Among the words taking their place were attach-ment, blog, broadband, bullet-point, cut-and-paste, and voice-mail. The news of these substitutions – the outdoor and natural being displaced by the indoor and virtual – became seen by many as a powerful sign of the growing gulf between childhood and the natural world.

In response, Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris set out to make a “spell book” that would conjure back twenty of these lost words, and the beings they name, from acorn to wren.
Morna Edmundson, Elektra Women’s Choir director, decided to commission 10 composers to write 2 compositions each – 20 compositions set to the poetry of Robert Macfarlane – and a fabulous concert program was born (premiered in 2022). These pieces are available individually and also as a complete book. They can be performed with piano alone or with instrumentation; flute/piccolo, violin, cello, clarinet/bass clarinet and marimba/percussion.

BLUEBELL - (from "Lost Words")

by Rodney Sharman

SATB with piano and percussion – CP 2190 – duration 3:20

I chose Bluebell for the beauty of the language and imagery. The text immediately conjured ideas of how I may transform vocal colours and harmonies through layering and sonic after-images. 

HAYDN CANON - (Tod ist ein langer Schlaf)

by Rodney Sharman

SATB a cappella – CP 2319 – duration 4:15

Rodney has applied his considerable set of skills to a classic. Choirs will love this fresh approachable rendition.
“This Haydn canon has been adapted by several composers over the years. Mary Burke requested the piece be performed at her memorial and I was asked to arrange and record the result. (with musica intima) I studied available scores and thought the English translations desperately needed improving. I’ve added homophonic intros and new choices on vocal entries. I worked out the internal rhyme, capturing the rhythm of the German text in English.” R.S.


by Rodney Sharman

SATB    a cappella    –    CP 1518   – 3:25
from the trilogy: Love, Beauty, Desire
all the opposites that strove in Chaos, 
powrefull LOVE unites; 
And from their Discord drew this Harmonie,  –  poem by George Sandys (1577-1644)

My Prime of Youth

by Rodney Sharman

TBB  a cappella    –    CP 1505   – 3:45
My Prime of Youth is but a Frost of Cares – the poignant poem by Chidiock Tichborne (1586) This composition is designed for accomplished singers. You will be struck by Rodney’s creative use of dissonance and consonance, rendering ebb and flow to the text. Listen to this amazing recording.

song about forgetfulness

by Rodney Sharman

SATB  a cappella    –    CP 1513   – 3:35
This exquisite composition was premiered by a large youth choir.  Listen to the premiere recording.
The music reflects childhood and remembrance though musical “games”: canons and double canons (rounds), invertible counterpoint (register exchange of identical music), and inversions (turning an ongoing melody upside down), and memory games: repetition, extension and variation. Bill Richardson’s text asks us to think about forgetting as well remembering. Let us recall that Freud said that what we forget is much more interesting than what we remember.

Winter Solstice

by Rodney Sharman

SATB  a cappella    –    CP 1514   – 2:40
“So dark, so cold, so lonely. The longest night, the briefest light.” Rodney’s composition captures the wonder and mystery.