PEI-based musical composer Leo Marchildon was commissioned to compose orchestral music to mark the anniversary of the burning of Roma’s Settlement in July 1745 by British Privateers. Founded by French entrepreneur Jean Pierre Roma, the national historic site Roma at Three Rivers is located on PEI’s eastern shore. Marchildon’s 23 minute orchestral dramatic piece, Roma’s Journey, will premiere August 7 and 14 at Roma’s Great Escape Festival.
Roma’s Journey is a musical adventure dramatizing various chapters in the visionary businessman’s life, beginning with his ocean voyage to Isle Saint-Jean to establish an intercolonial trading centre between France, Québec, the West Indies, and the French fortress of Louisbourg. The music describes everything from village life and construction, to personal conflicts and military tensions, and of course the fateful attack by British Privateers in 1745.
Marchildon has been gaining notice over the years as a composer of dramatic orchestral music. He was a composer and music editor for film and television in Los Angeles, and he has written for other commemorative occasions, including The Nine Lives of L.M. Montgomery (2008) marking the centenary of the publication of Anne of Green Gables and Canada, Our Dear Home (2014), honouring PEI’s role as the Birthplace of Confederation. Marchildon also contributed to the PEI Symphony Orchestra’s Cantata for Canada (2017) for the nation’s 150th anniversary.
A reduced orchestra of 16 musicians was recorded by Virtual Studios’ Perry Williams at Holland College’s Florence Simmons Performance Hall, and the final mix was sent to Adam-Michael James (co-writer with Leo on Nine Lives) to add video elements, transforming Roma’s Journey into a multimedia event.
Roma’s Journey will be shown throughout the afternoon on August 7 and 14 as part of Roma’s Great Escape Festival, which marks the 276th anniversary of Jean Pierre Roma’s escape from the burning settlement. The festival celebrations also include live music, vendors, demonstrations, historical reenactments, and more.