St. Lawrence Suite was commissioned by the Power Authority of the State of New York and the Hydro-Electric Power Comission of Ontario for the ceremony, September 5, 1958, marking the delivery of commercial hydro-electric power from the joint Robert Moses Power Dam and Robert H. Saunders St. Lawrence Generating Station. At this opening of the great St. Lawrence Power Project, the composer conducted the Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps military band in the first performance of this music.
St. Lawrence Suite consists of four commemorative movements. Although folk tunes are not used literally, the idiom of the work is simple and folk-like in character.
I. Dedication: lyrical and atmospheric, evoking the open country and waterways.
II. Quickstep: gay and implying movement and development.
III. Chansonette: simple and song-like with an "old-world" touch.
IV. Commemoration March: vigorous and driving, culminating in a transformed exposition of the opening "Dedication" theme.
Throughout the work, the composer makes use of two solo Trumpets whose antiphon calls serve to introduce and comment on these movements. They symbolise, in a general sense, the two host countries on either side of the United States-Canadian border. In the final movements these Trumpets blend with the band in fanfares that bring the work to a close.