Nocturne was commissioned by the Canadian Federation of the University Women in 1975 and was completed in the fall of 1976. It was specifically written for Phillis Mailing and was premiered by her with a chamber ensemble under Simon Streatfeild at the CBC in Toronto, in April 1978.
The work is conceived in one continuous movement and is scored for mezzosoprano, 3 percussions, harp and piano doubling on celeste. The pitch and rhythmic selections are limited and are partially structured within the means of the golden ratio. The various interpretations of 21 translations of the word “the night” (the sole vocabulary of the piece) provide a series of contrasts, and a scale of moods. Otherwise, the piece is conceived as a satire on some popular trends in the contemporary music at the time.