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An occasional newsletter announcing concerts, recordings, & projects.

book on music, gesture & rhetoric
article on Fauré's harmony
Robert Rival YouTube View selected works on YouTube.
Listen to some works on music streaming services.
Global tapestry - Ananta duo
Sonata "Muskoka" for clarinet & piano (Lake movement). Ananta Duo: "Global Tapestry" (2018). Purchase.

Windermere String Quartet: Inner Landscapes
Traces of a Silent Landscape. Windermere String Quartet: "Inner Landscapes" (2016). Purchase.


Lullaby. Edmonton Symphony Orchestra: "A Concert for New York" (2013). 2014 Western Canadian Music Awards nominee for Classical Recording of the Year. Purchase.


Violin Concerto "All'ombra de' cipressi" (under the shadow of the cypresses)

Instrumentation: solo violin, strings
Duration: 24:00
Year Composed: 2021
Commissioner: Marc Djokic, Sinfonia Toronto, Thirteen Strings, & Orchestre classique de Montréal
with the generous support of the
Canada Council for the Arts & the Ontario Arts Council
  1. Andante misterioso e molto espressivo
  2. Adagio cantabile
  3. Allegro energico
  4. Allegro feroce alla marcia
  5. Allegro caloroso ma leggero

Dedicated to Marc Djokic

Marc Djokic performing Rival's Violin Concerto Rival congratulating Djokic
Arman Djokic Rival
Rival Djokic Mallon

Top row: Marc Djokic; Rival & Djokic. Salle Pierre-Mercure, Montréal, April 11, 2023. Photos by Annette B. Woloshen. Middle row: Nurhan Arman, Djokic & Rival. April 11, 2023. Bottom row: Rival, Djokic & Kevin Mallon. Dominion-Chalmers, Ottawa, May 17, 2024. Photo by Anastasia Krachkovskaya.


Video (excerpts)

Marc Djokic (solo)
Sinfonia Toronto
Nurhan Arman (cond.)

Jane Mallett Theatre
Toronto, ON
April 1, 2022

Program Notes

Audio program note by the composer, illustrated with musical examples


My concerto owes its title to, and draws its expressive impetus from, the work of the celebrated Venetian, Ugo Foscolo, whose expansive poem "Sepulchres" (1806) is a moving and provocative meditation on how we remember the deceased, addressing the physical—how time inexorably erases the tombs erected in honour of the dead; the non-material—how, nonetheless, the departed live on as memory in the minds of the living; and, the historical—how memory, when passed on across generations, transcends material history. My work is not programmatic; I include brief quotations from the poem at the end of each movement, merely as suggestions, and which I reproduce below.

The violin, and the violin concerto, are both essentially Italian inventions. Vivaldi's chief and far-reaching contribution was the forging of a new genre, the solo violin concerto, underpinned by a distinctive approach to ritornello form, in which a tutti refrain (the ritornello) returns, often varied and abridged, in a variety of keys, interspersed by lightly accompanied solo episodes, often increasingly expansive. In the concertos of this other famous Venetian there is a lot to admire: energy from interlocking and imitative rhythmic patterns; bountiful chromatic sequences laden with suspensions; lyrical slow movements; bold unison writing; simplicity and economy; driving repeated-note themes; tonal, textural, and dynamic contrast. In the solo part, patterns: the pattern is the thing, the musical idea of interest itself, that we behold like the gleaming faces of a jewel. (Did I mention the sequences?)

Vivaldi's example serves only as a starting point. My concerto's harmonic world inhabits an extended tonal idiom, the ritornello and the sequences themselves moving among a multitude of scale-types. I treat rhythm flexibly: conflicting rhythms, metres, and even tempi, abound. There are five movements instead of the customary three. In the first, the soloist inhabits the violin's registral stratosphere where it introduces, in a brooding B-flat minor, the work's omnipresent two-note "tear" motive. The Adagio, interrupted by two cadenzas, metrically decouples the soloist's lyrical line from the accompaniment. Illuminated by shining harmonics, the swirling third movement alludes to Galileo's discovery of "more worlds rotating in the eternal sky". The martial fourth movement, in 7/8, features stabbing multiple-stops and other percussive effects. And in a nod to Foscolo's idea of memory, the finale recalls the ritornellos of three earlier movements in its episodes, while resolving the tonal journey in B-flat major.

I am grateful to the work's dedicatee, Marc Djokic, for his technical mastery, musical insight, and unflinching enthusiasm. I thank the co-commissioning ensembles, Sinfonia Toronto, Thirteen Strings, and Orchestre classique de Montréal, and acknowledge the generous support of both the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council.


I All’ombra de’ cipressi e dentro l’urne
confortate di pianto è forse il sonno
della morte men duro? (1-3)
(Under the shadow of the cypress trees,
within the urns caressed by loving tears
can the slumber of death be less profound?)
II Non vive ei forse anche sotterra, quando
gli sarà muta l’armonia del giorno,
se può destarla con soavi cure
nella mente de’ suoi? (26-29)
(Isn’t he still alive under the earth,
when the harmony of daylight does not reach him,
if he can still, with sad and tender thoughts,
arouse it in the mind of those who love him?)
III ... Io quando il monumento vidi
... di chi vide
sotto l’etereo padiglion rotarsi
più mondi ... (154-162)
(... When I saw the monument
... of the one who discovered more worlds
rotating in the eternal sky ...)
IV ... per l’ampia oscurità scintille
balenar d’elmi e di cozzanti brandi ... (203-204)
(... in the wide obscurity the flashing
sparkles of helms and of colliding swords ...)
V ... l’armonia
vince di mille secoli il silenzio. (233-234)
(... harmony triumphs over the silence
far longer than a thousand centuries.)
  —Ugo Foscolo, "Dei Sepolcri"
—"Sepulchres", trans. Valentina Bianchi
(used with permission)


  • May 17, 2024—Marc Djokic & Thirteen Strings,
    cond. Kevin Mallon, Dominion-Chalmers (Ottawa, ON)
  • Apr 11, 2023—Marc Djokic & Orchestre classique de Montréal,
    cond. Nurhan Arman, Salle Pierre-Mercure (Montréal, QC)
  • Apr 1, 2022—Marc Djokic & Sinfonia Toronto, cond. Nurhan Arman
    Jane Mallett Theatre (Toronto, ON)


"Cette musique résolument moderne nous amène sur des terres totalement inconnues [...] Les couleurs sont fortes, éclectiques, surprenantes, rompant définitivement avec la musique classique des siècles précédents. La musique moderne a réellement trouvé sa voie, autonome, riche et plurielle."

—Luce Langis, patwhite.com, April 13, 2023

"[...] a concerto that pushes the technical boundaries of the violin, but not without the intention of expression and colour."

—Marc Djokic in interview with ludwig van Toronto, March 22, 2022

Score Perusal & Parts Rental

For score perusal and parts rental information, contact the Canadian Music Centre.