Release Date: April 26, 2019
Catalog #: NV6223
Format: Digital & Physical
21st Century
String Orchestra


John Robertson composer
Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra | Anthony Armoré conductor

Characterized by a unique style of instrumentation and experimentation with formality, VIRTUOSITY is the colorful expression of composer John Robertson’s symphonic creativity. VIRTUOSITY combines a clarinet and a trumpet concerto, a symphony, and an orchestral fantasy based on a Maori love story – all on one album.

Robertson’s background interestingly includes not only an impressive, influential around-the-world emigration from his native New Zealand to Canada, but also early beginnings as an insurance expert while simultaneously embarking on his musical journey. This life experience – a balance of the adventurous yet down-to-earth – all seem to be clearly reflected in his compositions.

First and foremost, they are strikingly tonal, pleasantly governed by time and key signatures (which, in contemporary composition, is far from commonplace). The larger works are formally grouped into movements, which renders them accessible to any listening ear – no doubt a major strong point. But then there is something different in the manner in which Robertson employs both the soloists and the instruments of the orchestra: a layered, atmospheric kind of instrumentation which is apparent from the first second. It is difficult to qualify; this music isn’t cinematic, isn’t stereotypical – and to call it thus wouldn’t do it justice. Yet it remains incredibly evocative.

Perhaps this is what French writer Victor Hugo meant when he penned the phrase “Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.” Indeed, despite Robertson’s Oceanian/North American background, his music exhibits roots in a classical tradition that is decidedly European. It is no wonder, then, that his compositions have been performed globally – and have met with approval from varied audiences worldwide. VIRTUOSITY is yet another testament to this astounding versatility.


Hear the full album on YouTube

Artist Information

John Robertson

John Robertson


(Ernest) John Robertson (b. 1943) was born in New Zealand but is a longtime resident of Canada. His secondary school offered music as a full time subject, allowing Robertson to find his footing. Upon leaving school, he went into the insurance business where he spent his working life. Having emigrated to Canada in 1967, he continued to compose on the side.