Thursday, November 2nd
OPENING CONCERT: LIFE REFLECTED
Dear Life (2015)
Zosha Di Castri
Dear Life is based on Nobel Prize-winner Alice Munro’s semi-autobiographical short story Dear Life with music by award-winning Canadian composer Zosha Di Castri for orchestra and soprano Erin Wall. It features recorded narration by legendary actor Martha Henry, who gives a chilling reading of an expertly distilled adaptation of the story prepared by writer Merilyn Simonds. Striking black and white photography by Larry Towell (Magnum Photos) is interspersed with creative imagery projected on screens which surround and immerse the orchestra in a 3D environment. Visual design is by Montreal’s Normal.
My Name is Amanda Todd (2015)
Amanda Todd was a vibrant 15-year-old from Port Coquitlam, BC who loved singing and expressing herself through music. After suffering for years from cyber abuse, harassment, and bullying at school, she tragically took her life on October 10, 2012. Before doing so, Amanda had posted a poignant video on YouTube, using a series of flash cards, speaking out against bullying and sharing her story. The message of hope, empathy, and tolerance expressed in her video has since caused a worldwide groundswell of support, and is now used by educators and parents to support anti-bullying measures. Carol Todd, Amanda’s mother, continues to spread Amanda’s message through The Amanda Todd Legacy.
Bondarsphere traces the extraordinary life of Dr. Roberta Bondar. As a child, Dr. Bondar dreamed of being an astronaut. This dream was realized in January 1992, aboard NASA’s space shuttle Discovery, when she became the first neurologist in space and Canada’s first female astronaut. Lizée has interpreted her remarkable expertise as an astronaut, physician, scientific researcher, photographer, author, and environment interpreter, through soundtrack, video, and live orchestra. Lizée has spliced, overlaid, and manipulated the pitch, rhythm and harmony of the sights and sounds of Bondar’s achievements into eight movements, each unfolding into the next, inferring an eight-day odyssey.
I Lost My Talk (2015)
I Lost My Talk* is based on the poem by Mi’kmaw elder Rita Joe, C.M. Her poem expresses not only the pain and suffering she experienced at Schubenacadie Residential School in Nova Scotia, but also her hope and conviction that her words could guide and inspire Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples across Canada to journey to a place of strength and healing. The film, immersing orchestra and audience, is by designers Normal, featuring 10 First Nations dancers in choreography by Tekaronhiáhkhwa Santee Smith, Artistic Director of Kaha:wi Dance Theatre. The poem is narrated by Guna and Rappahannock actor Monique Mojica.
*Commissioned for the National Arts Centre Orchestra to commemorate the 75th birthday of the Right Honourable Joe Clark by his family.
Thursday, November 3rd
Cinq doigts (2014)
Sanae Ishida (石田早苗)
Ishida was inspired by the movements of Ohno Kazuo, the butoh dancer (1906- 2010). She meticulously studied the 20-second sequence of his performance on video before writing this piece. The 20-second sequence seems short but there are a lot of micro movements in the performance. The title Cinq doigts – five fingers – represents the five short movements of this work, simultaneously autonomous and supportive like the five fingers of the hand. Ishida expresses Kazuo’s subtle, flexible, and organic movements with personal polyphonic writing and the instrumentation around the trumpet whose timbre is often very soft with different mutes.
Invention à deux voix? (2008)
Maria Christina Krithara (Μαρία Χριστίνα Κριθαρά)
The term “invention” was given by J. S. Bach to short contrapuntal keyboard works. This piece deviates from the baroque “prototype” through the longer duration of the piece as well as the sections with different tempi. The question mark in the title alludes to the fact that although there are only two melodic instruments, the acoustic impression is not that of two voices. This is due to the way the two performers play, in addition to the multiphonics of the instruments which sometimes results in the production of multiple simultaneous “voices”. So, we can legitimately ask: is this piece an invention “à deux voix” or not?
Vivian Fung (馮偉君)
The cello embodies both human and machine in this three-section work. In the first segment, Like an Automaton, the cellist responds to glitchy machine sounds, from cars racing by to electrical surges and robotic talk, in a song and dance of technology and cello. The second, slower section is eerie and wildly expressive, weaving disparate textures and ghostly drones with vocal effects and heartbeats. This dissolves into the final section in which the cellist is pushed to the virtuosic edge alongside a rocking drumbeat and zany sound effects.
Clarinet Quintet: The Eternal (2016)
Clarinet Quintet: The Eternal offers a dystopian response to our current time through the deep sadness of its harmonic language and its drawn out melodic lines. The arch structure traces a questioning of the status quo in increasing degrees of urgency, falling back to a disturbed state of acceptance to end the work.
SOUND X SOUND – MUSIC FOR 10 HI-HATS (2016)
Niels Lyhne Løkkegaard
Niels Lyhne Løkkegaard is turning sound inside out. By repeatedly multiplying instruments, he makes the sound transcend itself and become a pure new sound. His interest in multiplying sound has led to the SOUND X SOUND, a series of works where each piece is an exploration of one single instrument that is multiplied (e.g. 8 recorders, 16 triangles, 9 pianos or 10 Hi-Hats). In the SOUND X SOUND series, the individual instrument and the individual player are dissolved and reappear in a new form. Løkkegaard’s latest work transcends the borders of genre and form, and through a series of experiments and installations, he explores the overlap between sounds, science, and music.
Guo Yuan (郭元)
Tibetan singing bowls, also known as Bowls of Blessed Sounds, are brassware used in Tibetan Buddhist rituals. When stroked or rubbed with a stick, they produce free and natural sounds like the curling up of smoke or the enshrouding of mist. To enhance this effect, singing bowls of three different sizes are placed around the percussion I, II and the timpani; thus the “sounds of blessings” spread through space and fill the air.
Wooden glass (2015)
Almost all percussion pieces I studied were for a while groovy and loud. I set out to explore the opposite. I therefore chose instruments that were very fragile and quiet. Crotales, glockenspiel, and triangles are also very pregnant sounding and hard to play with rhythmic precision. I wanted all the sounds to appear as if they were played simultaneously but with different distances to their target. If one wishes – sounds that are played with varied shifting distances to the ear drum but are arriving at approximately the same time. A bit like raindrops falling, but from very different skies.
Juan Felipe Waller
Moribundo was commissioned by the percussion ensemble SlagwerkDenHaag. The context for composing Moribundo was to take aspects of Mexican cosmogony regarding death, which includes a rather daring, humorous and defying approach. I use wooden boards that work as an analogy to coffins. These are rubbed with specially designed mallets using half a ‘Superball’ based on percussionist Diego Espinosa’s own mallet findings. The sounding outcome is a homology to the voices or ‘chants’ of the dead. Rugged PVC tubes, often used for electricity cabling, are used to portray ‘the last breaths’. The project involved collaboration with film animation artist Martha Colburn, whose film syncretizes Mexican-inspired imagery into a Dutch context.
Music of the Spheres (2015)
Music of the Spheres is an exploration into the ethereal soundscape of glass; its resonant nature combined with glass spheres. What does the circular movement of a marble sound like? The resultant elixir creates otherworldly harmonies and oblique designs reminiscent of logarithmic spirals, labyrinths, and the movement of the planets themselves. Music of the Spheres was originally conceived for a UBC project and has since manifested in a solo configuration with the Vancouver Electronic Ensemble and as a quartet commissioned by Redshift Music Society and premiered by Fringe Percussion in 2016.
Gestalt X (2014)
Gestalt X is the tenth and last work in the series, Gestalt. As with the other works in the cycle, minor manipulations are made in the positioning to achieve different relationships between the instruments. As a result, the traditional string quartet formation is altered into a work for quasi-solo viola, accompanied by two violins and a cello part as a shadow voice, given that the cellist sits with his or her back to the audience. The piece constantly refers to the other works in the series. This quartet is a collection of twelve short echoes in which new relationships between the instruments are continually sought and where the quasi-solo viola is continually given a different role to play.
Megh Malhar (2016)
Megh Malhar is a Hindustani classical raga. The name is derived from the Sanskrit word Megh, meaning cloud. This raga is associated with the time of oncoming rainy seasons and thunderstorms; legends say that it has the power of bringing on the rain clouds to the areas of drought where it is played. The intent for using this raga was to create a sight of a myriad of raindrops, where each drop is a microscopic reflection of the whole rain. Each performer plays various trills at a very slow tempo to maintain this fragile sonic experience.
Many Many Cadences (2015)
Western ears are very sensitive to certain formulaic chord progressions commonly used at the ends of phrases in tonal music (cadences). In Many Many Cadences, the listeners’ perception of cadences is stretched by recontextualizing these predictable chord progressions in very fast cells that are constantly changing key and register. These lonely, disjunct ends-of-phrases eventually congeal and transform into new kinds of phrases and sound objects. In this piece, the functional tonal cadence (with its hierarchical nature and historical baggage) loosely represents the colonialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. The point of the piece is to bring it down through the power of humour, irreverence, and kooky energy.
contact; vault (1997)
“Vault” is the name of the long melody that makes up most of the material of contact; vault. It is one of those polyvalent words that carry a few meanings which often seem quite opposed in character. In this case we have (at least) an enclosure and an action: a confining chamber for sealing something away and the act of propelling oneself over a barrier. “Contact” may also suggest many possibilities such as the reference to the way the player produces sound. Arnold re-invents the string quartet, turning it into a strange collection of quiet, insidious, and hopefully wonderful, discrete instruments.
VANCOUVER NEW MUSIC STRING ORCHESTRA & VANCOUVER ELECTRONIC ENSEMBLE
In Praise of Shadows (2015)
Kotoka Suzuki (鈴木琴香)
This work is inspired by Junichiro Tanizaki’s essay, In Praise of Shadows (1933), at the birth of the modern technological era in imperial Japan. The essay describes the ways in which shadows and emptiness are integral to traditional Japanese aesthetics in music, architecture, and food, right down to the design of everyday objects. The essay is concerned with how modern sensibility and excessive illumination of Edison’s modern light affect Japanese aesthetics and culture. In Praise of Shadows is a eulogy for our collective loss of the tangible as our modern life has become increasingly alienated from materiality, pushing into virtual and digital domain.
ISCM Remix (2017)
Vancouver Electronic Ensemble (VEE)
The piece will be a live spatialized remix of samples and sounds taken from a selection of Honorary Members of the ISCM and used as raw material for an improvised electronic set performed by members the Vancouver Electronic Ensemble.
Orient Point (2016)
Linda Catlin Smith
Orient Point is at the easternmost tip of Long Island in New York. It is a small village of farmland and protected marshes that ends at the sea, with a lot of small bays, inlets, and coves. There are beaches on several sides of the point: one looks across the Long Island Sound to Connecticut, while on the other side, there is just horizon with the faintest strip of land beyond which is the Atlantic. The view is mostly sea and sky, and these, along with the light, are constantly changing.
Lemminkainen’s Mother (2012)
Michiko Fukazawa (深澤倫子)
This piece was premiered in Finland on 2012. The theme is Kalevala, which is the national saga of Finland. It was inspired by the painting by Akseli Gallen-Kallela which illustrates the scene where Lemminkainen’s mother reassembles the broken body of her son.
Mi Fa (2014)
Mi Fa was born from a fixation with repeated sounds. While drinking a glass of wine in an empty club, I intercepted two reiterated notes Mi (E) and Fa (F). They were part of disco music, something which suggested many people were in the space while the music was reverberating alone around the club. This little contradiction was a poetic antinomy and it stayed with me when I left the place. I ended up capturing it in a score for string ensemble. A cohesive palette of sounds: one of the most inspiring, enrapturing, and fulfilling of our musical literature and, I believe, our history.
Music for Orchestra III (2010)
How a chord in Music for Orchestra III is almost heard to heave out of the void: that infinitesimal series of steps from “silence” to “sounds”; a gorgeous trauma of classical chamber music haunts the metamorphoses of Jay Schwartz. The musical lines are led from several different directions and conducted through an “eye of a needle” of some kind – Schwartz’s “funnel” ductus, like electrons through a minimal slit, where only single particles have the space to pass. In this chiasmal cleft, the “infinite” is the most restricted, pure apeiron. An impassable point–point of no dimensions. (Ruskin Watts)
RIOT & LORI FREEDMAN
To the Bridge (2014)
To the Bridge is a set of five miniatures connected by four bridges. In this music, the bridge is the place of arrival or departure and the miniature is the approach to or from that place. As in “reality”, the bridge has a composite and beautiful function: it simultaneously connects one zone to another, and it also creates a new zone combining the three separate entities. This triangular relationship draws focus on today’s performance: the interconnection between the composer, the performer and the audience. Freedman describes there in here: there – the composer; in – inside me as the performer; here – now in your ears.
For the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM) World New Music Days Festival 2017, Hard Rubber New Music presents a 45-minute version of Riot, a powerful multi-media work-in-progress, in development since 2015 by John Korsrud, filmmaker Brian Johnson, and director Kim Collier. Riot tells the story of the shocking and destructive Vancouver hockey riot of 2011. The music, inspired by the world of electronica music, is performed by nine musicians and pre-recorded tracks. Riot brings into focus this insane event of June 2011 that brought hundreds of arrests and millions of dollars of destruction. Composition by John Korsrud and video by Brian Johnson, Aram Coen and Chimerik.
Saturday, November 4th
INSTRUMENTS OF CHANGE
Eight or nine, six or seven (2017)
James B. Maxwell
Eight or nine, six or seven develops and extends my exploration of magic realism in music, drawing on elements of instrumental concert music, soundscape composition, and acousmatic music, to build narrative-like structures grounded in emotional logic, but resisting conventional signification and formal dogma. Conceived to bring together the highest standards of contemporary music, community-engaged arts, and art for social change, this piece is the result of a two-year collaboration between the arts-based community development non-profit, Instruments of Change, Music on Main, members of Vancouver’s binners community, professional performers, and the community-at-large. (James B. Maxwell)
MÜGE BÜYÜKÇELEN, VIOLIN
Fuze is a work scored for amplified violin and tape. The playback component originated as a separate tape piece entitled Submerged Echoes. The earlier work is a soundscape composed using audio samples recorded while playing Tectonic Shift, a stainless steel sound sculpture created by Nova Scotian blacksmith John Little. For the composition of Fuze, I extended the playback part of Submerged Echoes and fused to it a solo violin part. The added violin becomes a part of the soundscape and gives the music a more subjective perspective. The title refers to the composition process, the art of blacksmithing and prevalent sounds of shrieking metal heard throughout the work. (Paul Frehner)
Undulations IIIb (2016)
Yuriko Hase Kojima
Undulations is a series of pieces that are written with the idea of creating juxtaposed layers of undulating fundamental elements of music such as pitches, harmonies, dynamics, timbres, durations, acoustics, rhythms, and timings in a solo setting. While every piece is independent and complete by itself, any adjacent pieces could also be played continuously as one unit in any combination. Undulations IIIb for solo violin and Max is a realization of Undulations III with live electronics by Max. It is as if scenery from a window can be seen differently when it is viewed through from different angles and perspectives.
Tonight My Shadow Sinks Into the Wall (2012)
This opus is based on the imagery of texts by Japanese haiku poets Matsuo Bashō and Oshima Ryota. The combination of six haiku texts, colours, and sounds of music create the integral structure of the composition. The conciseness of the poems and the variety of moods turn musical lines into divergent colourful projections. Scattered metaphors bring about the allusion to the transiency, fragility, and beauty of this world.
Cadenza lirica (2004)
Cadenza lirica uses the notion of cadence in both its meanings: melodic or harmonic termination of a musical phrase and the grand virtuosity section of a concerto. The first section debuts with three phrases that have a constitutive nucleus: classical tonal cadence, melodic cadences, and gesture-cadences. Next, these musical ideas are developed in a virtuoso spirit of the instrumental cadence. Thus, the composition works deliberately with the cultural memory. The second section uses all cadence types but the goal is the birth of a melody, exploiting the euphony given by fragments. The ending represents the return of the first section, but synthesizes the musical material gained in the second section.
The title Quintessenz for solo violin evokes that the core, intention, result of my composition is the deepest fifth of the empty strings of the solo instrument. It is not necessary to introduce more closely the fascination resulting from the pure empty fifth carrying the highest possible number of aliquots. Silky, mysterious, and even demonic – hiding within itself an unheard musical world, like a little genome. ‘Quinta essentia’ (lat.) ‘the fifth being’, the softest air – ether. Aristotle added to his theory of the four elements that are supposed to create the very essence of existence. One can say that the fifth in this context carries all kinds of connections. (Olga Kroupová)
Lux Antiqua (2011)
Human fascination with the night sky long predates the dawn of history. Regardless of origin, be it Arabic, Chinese, Greek, or Latin, almost all star names are old – even thousands of years old. They are a part of our collective cultural heritage. Modern astronomers study many stars too faint to see without a telescope, and these are so numerous they are known only by catalog numbers and coordinates. As a result, official star names are essentially limited to the very old names. The ones that our ancestors could see, navigate with, and wonder at. These stars have supplied us with countless flights of imagination.
After Storm (2001)
The opening words of Carol Burdick’s poem, After Storm, masks an underlying sense of loss and pain. I imagined someone whose heart was suffering but the peaceful beauty of the winter snow, outside, does not find its way into this troubled soul. This setting emphasizes this contrast between outer and inner worlds. After a gentle opening suggests the calming of the falling snow, the sopranos continue this mood with a long melody while the lower voices struggle to speak underneath. The voices then combine to appeal for rest, but ultimately beg to be released of all feeling. The last section suggests a sense of defeat and resignation, and the possibility of eventual release.
I’ll Fly Away (2010)
I’ll Fly Away sings about the spirit of a loved one, about to be set free from pain and suffering. This is not a sad song; it is focused on the future and then, the beauty of a shared past, with beautiful moments together.
Amr Okba (عمرو عقبة)
Amr Okba opens his work Faith with a peaceful coexistence of Egyptian, Jewish, Christian and Islamic deities. The five voices in Faith are assigned clear roles: the three world religions are represented by the three male voices, while the women play the part of “heaven”, which does not interfere in religious conflicts, instead citing the Ten Commandments with stoic persistence. Through microtonal deviations and gradual alteration of liturgical gestures, the initial unison of the three male voices develops into a web of linear movements and an increasing independence of the three voices, leading ultimately to separate tempi and a resulting arbitrariness of harmonic relationships.
Laulud Laulude Laulust (The Song of Song of Songs) (2011)
Text from the Song of Solomon (in Estonian, translated by Vello Salo and Indrek Hirv).
…Many waters cannot quench love,
neither can floods drown it.
If a man offered for love
all the wealth of his house,
it would be utterly condemned.
Libera me (2009)
Libera me is composed as a part of the choir opera, Earth and wind, with an actual climate theme. This piece starts and ends a musical journey of human hubris – through flight dream history from Icarus-myth to space conquering – and leaves us with a personal responsibility for our suffering earth.
Angelus ad pastores ait (2015)
This composition for mixed choir (SSAATTBB div.) is based entirely on the Christmas antiphon Angelus ad pastores ait. The Gregorian chant provides the basis for the melodic and harmonic construction of the composition. The interlacements and densification of voices with intervals of fourth and second form interesting harmonic relationships with clusters, giving the listener a sense of archaism with modern sounds. The full sound image takes place with spatial distribution of the choir in the hall. In this way, the listener is right in the middle of the full sonority.
This first sacred piece of the composer was inspired by a text called Lucis Creator Optime written by Saint Gregory the Great, one of the most influential popes of the Middle Ages. The hymn is part of the Catholic Church’s Sunday evening prayer-meeting (Vespers) that occurs throughout the year, therefore it can be heard in every church at least weekly. Thanks to this frequent performance, it has become widespread and has been linked with three well-known Gregorian chants in addition to being interpreted by many composers of art music from the Renaissance to the contemporary.
Old Friend (2014)
Old Friend is about the famous special food called old friend noodles, a beautiful city, and the capital of Guangxi of China. The lyrics in plain and appropriate language introduce the delicate praise of the hometown, friendship, and express the author’s emotion of life. The music, with Guangxi Zhuang folk elements combined with the western style of music harmony techniques, is humorous and lively, showing a new era of optimism among the hospitable Guangxi inhabitants.
The Star Princess and the Waterlilies (1984)
R. Murray Schafer
This little music drama, which has been published by Arcana Editions, is an imaginative creation story for narrator, contralto soloist, treble voices, and percussion. The Star Princess (contralto soloist) visits a world populated by children to ask them whether the stars might come to live on earth. The children help her to find the right place. The Star Princess is the same Princess of the Stars who appears in the prologue to Patria, Schafer’s massive cycle of music-theatre works written over a period of 40 years.
Emily Carr String Quartet
Demian Rudel Rey
Theophilus for string quartet and electroacoustic is linked with some works of Mozart. The title refers to one of the names associated with Mozart. The quotes are from his first and last string quartet (K. 80 and K. 590), provided at the beginning of an oneiric character with some “interferences” from abstract sounds of electroacoustic and short notes of the instruments. Subsequently, the quotes and the others materials interact in a way that the tonal melodic lines are blurred, with a passage of great virtuosity. Finally, the elements of Theophilus are perceived with the same onirism as the first quote.
Tōrino – echoes on pūtōrino improvisations by Rob Thorne (2016)
Tōrino (meaning ‘spiral’) is based on my transcriptions of the pūtōrino playing of taonga pūoro musician Rob Thorne. The pūtōrino is a purely Māori instrument, and is unique in that it can function both as a ‘trumpet’ and ‘flute’. This results in two distinct voices: the deeper, mournful kōkiri o te tane (male voice), and the eerie, more agile waiata o te hine (female voice). An elusive third voice can be achieved by blowing across the māngai (central opening). The instrument’s shape is based on the New Zealand case moth cocoon and embodies Hine Raukatauri, the atua (goddess) of music. (Salina Fisher)
Uminari no Gusuku: The castle of the sea roar (2016)
Hisataka Nishimori (西森久恭)
Uminari no Gusuku: The castle of the sea roar was inspired by the forest of the northern Okinawa. This forest is blessed with a richness of nature, and has many interesting endemic species. I once participated in a project to sample the sound of nature there before dawn, and could listen to various environmental sounds: the song of birds or insects that I’ve never heard before, the sound of sea wind blowing through trees, and the sea roaring from a distance. In Okinawa, there is a castle called Gusuku.
Robert J. Coe
Freycinet was written for the centennial celebrations of Freycinet National Park in Tasmania, Australia. This piece captures the power of bush fires, the liveliness of rock pools, and the stunning beauty of Wineglass Bay from the top of Mt. Amos. It draws on emotions like the joy of stumbling across a shy echidna, the thrill of hitching a ride for the first time, and the unspoken understanding between two individuals sharing a sunset – all of the subtleties of a unique personal experience and all of the timeless natural elements that combine to make Freycinet National Park so unforgettable.
Suite from The Quartet Project (2014)
Modeled on Bartók’s Mikrokosmos, Geoffrey Hudson’s Quartet Project is a six-volume collection which starts with simple pieces for beginning string quartets and gradually grows more complex. Selections from the collection have been recorded by leading American ensembles like the Chiara, Jupiter, Parker, Miró, Brooklyn Rider, and Borromeo quartets. The full six-volume collection, encompassing 121 short pieces and six full-length quartets, was published by Hybrid Vigor Music in 2016. The Suite performed today offers a short tour of the collection, from volume one (Bright spot) to volume six (Swing for the fences).
Klee Wyck Woman (2017) (World Premiere)
Klee Wyck Woman was commissioned by the Emily Carr String Quartet for the ISCM WNMD 2017. This work is a collaboration between composer Jennifer Butler and poet Janet Rogers – a Mohawk writer from the Six Nations territory in southern Ontario who was the Victoria, BC Poet Laureate from 2012-2015. Rogers’ poem celebrates the unique life and work of painter and writer Emily Carr (1871-1945). Carr was one of the preeminent Canadian painters of the first half of the 20th century; she was also one of the only major female artists in that period in either North America or Europe.
Between the Tunes (2012) (World Premiere)
Traditional Irish musicians frequently come together for ‘sessions’ wherein sets of tunes are performed – not always the same tunes in the same order, but guided by the energy of the session and the styles of the people performing. In between the sets of tunes, many things happen; jokes and stories or ‘yarns’ may be told, songs sung, instruments tuned, velvety black liquid purveyed, different versions of tunes compared… This piece hints at all of the above. Its free form and open material imitates the energy between the tunes. It doesn’t attempt to recreate, but rather suggest a musical experience.
Jeu de cartes (2013)
Éric Normand’s work with his ensemble, GGRIL or others, focuses on giving responsibilities to musicians. His score tends to make the interpreters think about roles and feelings they can bring to the music. Jeu de carte is an open form composition inspired by gaming and strategy that forces the musician to listen. Each musician has cards to play at the moment he wants to make the music change. Musicians know the rules, but not the score? Maybe the score is the rule?
water carrier/porteur d’eau (2017)
Lisa Cay Miller
Commissioned by Productions SuperMusique. Neskantaga First Nation in Ontario has had to boil water since 1995. “We’re over 20 years already where our people haven’t been able to get the water they need to drink from their taps or to bathe themselves without getting any rashes,” Neskantaga Chief Wayne Moonias told CBC News in 2015. In the fall of last year, 156 drinking water advisories were in place in First Nations in Canada. More than 100 are routinely in effect — some for years or decades. (David Suzuki Foundation. February 16, 2017.)
Vox Terminus (2015) (Canadian Premiere)
Vox Terminus, which can be translated both as ‘border noises’ and ‘noise limit’, is inspired by optical art, constructed upon the basic geometric shape of a triangle, and ordered by polymetric figures travelling through parallax effect.
Curiosidade (2015) (Canadian Premiere)
Curiosity is probably one of our most primitive forms of interacting with the world. “Curiosidade” is Portuguese for curiosity. This piece is an audiovisual interactive work of art about being curious.
Saturday, November 5th
Fire Dragon Dance, 舞火龙 (2016) (Canadian Premiere)
Luk Wai Chun Vincent (陸尉俊)
This composition is inspired by the Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance in Hong Kong. Accompanied by loud gongs and drums, there is a very long dragon stunned with lighted incenses lifted by hundreds of people in the street parade. Luk depicts the lively atmosphere in the fire dragon dance through music and his imagery of the fire dragon. In music, the musical element of luogu (Chinese percussion ensemble) is added to imitate the gongs and drums in Fire Dragon Dance. Also, the soft and peaceful pipa passage at the end gives another impression of the dance.
Chinese Wall Paper (2012) (Canadian Premiere)
Luiz Henrique Yudo
Several times while visiting Taiwan, I noticed a very popular and ancient decorative pattern appearing in windows, packaging, in some metro halls, temples, and even on the sewer lids of Taipei. It is an ornament with Swastikas, which are linked originally to Buddhism. The complexity and symmetry of that design appealed to me first as a visual structure and then as a musical structure. I mapped this pattern’s structure from four different corners, creating a set of four melodic lines of two sounds. This composition is therefore a musical translation of that structure.
Peng Baban, for small Chinese ensemble
Traditional, arranged by Mei Han
Directly translated as “knocking on baban,” the title is both a suite of compositions and a genre for traditional string ensemble of southwestern Shandong. Musicians utilized baban (”eight beats”), a melody containing eight phrases, as a mother tune to further develop into individual compositions. While performing together as an ensemble, the musicians maintain the unified beat-form but vary the melodies individually and spontaneously, resulting in a rich heterophonic music. The root of peng baban is xiansuo string music popular in northern China during the Ming and Qing dynasties.
Bamboo Silk and Stone, for Asian instruments and two digital soundtracks (1999)
Barry Truax & Randy Raine-Reusch
Bamboo Silk and Stone is a pioneering electroacoustic work written for zheng. The tape is designed to preserve and amplify typical improvisational gestures used by the performer, sometimes stretching them in time to discover their inner complexity.
The Distorted Identity Under the Globalized World (2016)
Fung Dic-lun (馮迪倫)
This work focuses on the unconventional sonorities of traditional instruments. Instead of hearing instrumental dialogues, the ensemble sounds as a whole for most of the time. Sonorities are explored as a block identity. By de-characterising the instruments’ original sonorites, new timbral groups and combinations are created. Instruments from two distinct cultures form various distinctive clusters of timbres. They are identified and then approximated. Successive timbral transformations are then heard throughout.
LAND’S END ENSEMBLE
Melencolia I (A3) (2013) (Canadian Premiere)
Mauricio de Bonis
Staring at Dürer’s engraving, Melencolia I, it is hard to believe that Melancholia by von Trier was not derived from it, given the many common elements. Nevertheless, what the 2011 feature film brings as a class portrait at the current stage of “civilization” is distinct from the symbolism of the 1514 engraving. The same may occur with Melencolia I (A3) if heard next to La Malinconia (Beethoven, op.18 no.6: IV), as a meditation that derives from the same elements. The initial motivation for this piece did not come from Albrecht, Lars, or Ludwig, but from the archetypal formation and the fortunate gathering of Simona Cavuoto, Felipe Scagliusi, and Beto Kanji.
Päärme (2015) (Canadian Premiere)
When talking about the art of composing music, craftsmanship is often mentioned. In the piano trio Päärme, Wennäkoski has a very concrete idea of craftsmanship as a starting point – that of sewing. Päärme has a light, bright, and pulsatile character, and it is built on little canons in many passages. The handprint of the hemming is also enriched with noise sounds and non-conventional playing techniques. Päärme was commissioned by the Kimito Island Music Festival, and premiered by Sibelius Piano Trio in 2015.
Shō III (2012) (Canadian Premiere)
Shō III is the first piece of a cycle that uses as a structural material and poetic inspiration the ancient music of the Japanese court, Gagaku. Shō is the name of the mouth organ made of bamboo that has a limited number of harmonic possibilities. The piece expands these possibilities with transpositions and overlaps of chords creating tensions that are manifested in texture, tempi, and dynamic organic variations. Starting from the old Japanese music, I create an organic and abstract texture that flows in an inconstant way with impetuosity of expression, backed by static and cold gestures. (Fernando Riederer)
Asmati Chibalashvili (ასმათი ჭიბალაშვილი)
Light (2012) (Canadian Premiere)
The dramaturgy of the work is based on the idea of comparison and interaction of natural and artificial light.
Trio No. 2 (2015)
My first piano trio was written in 1999, fifteen years before Piano Trio No. 2. My first trio began as a compositional experiment that could best be described as polystylist: dissimilar elements coexisting in a creative work. Most of my music from that point forward includes some element of polystylism in it. My new work approaches this musical discourse through levels of nostalgia whereas my first trio explored this in an aggressive and confrontational way. Trio No. 2 looks to the past in a series of reminiscences that are somehow linked together, perhaps akin to my own reminiscences as I age.
War Dance (from Gryphon Realms) (2015)
War Dance was inspired by the gryphon mythology. The work is built on layers of independent melodic threads that are cast against constantly-changing meters as played by the piano. The polyrhythmic fabric is consistently maintained and developed to create a dramatic tension between the strings and piano that builds to an explosive climax.
VANCOUVER SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
That Tingling Sensation (2015, rev. 2017)
The inspiration for this piece stems from the fascinating human experience of being physically thrilled by music. When an experience moves or enthralls you, your hair stands up, and you feel the music viscerally. I think this is likely the great reason why people love music – that inexplicable visceral reaction to beauty, to energy, to lovely or powerful sound. (This reaction is known as an ‘autonomous sensory meridian response’, in case you’re planning to Google it.) I’ve named my piece out of love for this ideal, and for the kaleidoscopic and electrifying palette of sounds the orchestra can create.
At the Speed of Stillness (2012) (Canadian Premiere)
Commissioned by the BBC Proms for Sir Mark Elder and the Aldeburgh World Orchestra, At the Speed of Stillness finds part of its inspiration in a surrealist poem by Dora Maar. The energy, sense of endless movement, and exhaustion encapsulated in the poem permeates the music. Important also is the play with paradoxical ideas: the contrary notion that something moving quicker than the human eye detects can appear to be motionless or still. Relentless, with constant shifts in perspective, the piece holds an underlying energy, zinging with immense power and force.
Indigo (2012) (Canadian Premiere)
Friedrich Heinrich Kern
I composed Indigo for orchestra in 2011 as the result of a commission from BASF, Germany. The occasion was the inauguration of a restored concert hall in Ludwigshafen, Germany. The prerequisites of the commission determined the duration of the work (12 minutes) and the desired festive character. I was primarily interested in utilizing the entire dynamic spectrum of the orchestra and exploring the acoustic spatialization of this new artistic venue.
Pressed for Time (2017) (World Premiere)
Mohamed Assani (محمد آسانی) & John Oliver
Drawing on, as well as departing, from the conventions of Hindustani classical music (Northern India and Pakistan) and Western contemporary orchestral music, Assani and Oliver collaborate to create Pressed for Time – a sitar concerto. Pushing past the idea of ‘setting’ the sitar in either a traditional or avant-garde context, instead they merge the best of both, developing the raga in a non-linear way, creating unexpected changes and new ideas that transform the musical materials and form. This new synthetic work plays with the listener’s expectations. Thanks to the Canada Council for the Arts and the Hari Sharma Foundation for funding.
Stygn (Stitches) (2012) (Canadian Premiere)
Leo Correia de Verdier
Since it was invented in the late 18th century, the sewing machine has become one of the world’s most popular musical instruments. Every day, millions of people make music with their sewing machines, but few have taken their musicianship to a professional level and presented it to an audience, perhaps due to the low status of the instrument. Stygn is written as a series of improvisation-frames or basic ideas that can be varied to a large extent, but always appear as the same set.
Anthropologies imaginaires (2014)
Acclaimed as the best international production at the Amsterdam Fringe Festival 2015, and best new performance at the SummerWorks Performance Festival 2016, Anthropologies imaginaires is a solo performance merging vocal improvisations, documentary projections and theatrical acting. As a parody of documentary reporting, fake specialists comment on the music and cultural practices of various fictional peoples. The vocal explorations of Dharmoo find their inspiration in bizarre isolated musical traditions from around the world. What results is a sonic landscape, in which imaginary folklore and technical experimentation merge. This juxtaposition calls into question notions of standardization and normality, as well as underscores the diversity of self-expression from one culture to another. That which results is a light-hearted yet disturbing demonstration of post-colonialism, post exoticism, cultural extinction, globalization, normalized racism and cultural appropriation.
Monday, November 6th
TURNING POINT ENSEMBLE
The Old Man and the Sea (2017) (World Premiere)
Rita Ueda & Rodney Robertson
The Old Man and the Sea is an adaptation of the 1952 novel by Ernest Hemingway. The aging fisherman, Santiago, is considered unlucky by everyone in his village because he has gone 84 days without catching a fish. Santiago, nevertheless, continues to take his skiff into the ocean every day. On the 85th day, Santiago’s bait is taken by a giant marlin. The old man struggles with the marlin for three days before finally catching it, but his prize is attacked and eaten by sharks as he sails home…
EVENT AND MEMORY
The Jongleur (2016) (Canadian Premiere)
This composition has been written for the 68th Prague Spring International Music Competition (2016).
“I can play the lute, vielle, pipe, bagpipe, harp, fiddle, psaltery, tabor… I can jump rope most extraordinary and amusing. I can throw knives into the air and catch them without cutting my fingers. I can balance chairs, and make tables dance. I can somersault, and walk doing a handstand. I can sing a song well, make tales to please young ladies, and can play the gallant for them if necessary…”
(Anonymous, Middle Ages)
A Walk in the Countryside (2016)
This piece started as I imagined experiencing a surrounding countryside landscape. A landscape is, in many ways, the negation of a narrative: it is typically action-free. But because experience (being) involves time, even landscapes imply that events follow each other. The sounds can therefore exist independently or in relation with one another, thus creating an interplay between event and memory. As the piece progresses, evocative sounds gradually turn into musical gestures.
Aura (2011) (Canadian Premiere)
Vera Ivanova (Вера Иванова)
The idea of this piece came to me in conversation with the clarinetist Virginia Costa Figueiredo. Another clarinetist, Andrew Leonard, made a lot of suggestions on notation and extended techniques and gave the first performance of Aura.
- a distinctive and pervasive quality or character; air; atmosphere: an aura of respectability; an aura of friendliness;
- a subtly pervasive quality or atmosphere seen as emanating from a person, place, or thing;
- pathology. A sensation, as of lights or a current of warm or cold air, preceding an attack of migraine or epilepsy.
Pixel is a live performance for augmented double bass and live electronics. This performance brings together a composed sound installation with an improvised performance. The main focus is the relationship between an immaterial sound environment and the musical and physical gestures of the performer. Using the MAX environment, the electronic programming provides a space and direction for a live performance captured through sensors (Arduino communication and video tracking). Each performance can be adapted to any sound system (minimum two speakers and a sub) and duration (minimum ten minutes).
Sept Papillons (2000)
Sept Papillons was the first piece Saariaho wrote after her opera L’Amour de loin and it was partly written during the rehearsals of the opera in Salzburg. One can sense the desire to find a new world which has nothing to do with the opera, neither in style nor in language. From the metaphors of the opera which all have an eternal quality – love, yearning and death – she moved now to a metaphor of the ephemeral: butterfly. From the long time-spans of the opera, she moved to these seven miniatures, which each seem to be studies on a different aspect of fragile and ephemeral movement that has no beginning nor end. Sept Papillons was commissioned by the Rudolf Steiner Foundation and was first performed by Anssi Karttunen in Helsinki in September 2000.
ENSEMBLE CONTEMPORAIN DE MONTREAL (ECM+) & TURNING POINT ENSEMBLE
Jede Nacht besucht uns ein Traum (2012) (Canadian Premiere)
The piece was inspired by a collection of drawings and prints by Austrian graphic artist, Alfred Kubin (1877 – 1959), which Pieniek saw at an exhibition at the Albertina Museum in Vienna. Kubin’s works depict fantastical and often morbid and macabre symbolic visions, always set in a dark, overwhelming, nightmare-like atmosphere. The title of the piece is taken directly from one of these drawings.
Astiro (2012) (Canadian Premiere)
Iñaki Estrada Torio
Astiro means slowly in Euskara, the native language of the Basque Country. With this simple idea, the whole piece is defined. Slowly in relation to the development of sound, of the presentation and of the life of the different elements that coexist at different speeds within the same sonorous magma. Slowly regarding how different rhythmic and harmonic processes are developed. The perception of time, the limit between noise and sound, so personal and never defined … all these elements are the heart of the piece. The name does not imply, however, laxity. These points create the form, articulating a narrative in which the burning of the material itself forms the structure.
Evta (2017) (World Premiere)
Evta means “seven” in the language of the Roma from Serbia. Each of the seven movements is inspired by the colours of the chakras and is associated with one of the notes of the scale: C/red, D/orange, E/yellow, F/green, G/blue, A/indigo and B/violet. The work is strongly inspired by Gypsy violin music played in the Balkans.
Contrattempo – in three movements (2014) (Canadian Premiere)
Contrattempo was created in 2014 for Cantus Ensemble who premiered the piece at the Opatija Music Panel in Opatija and later performed it at the Dubrovnik Summer Festival and Osor Music Festival. As the title suggests, the piece deals with constant interruptions, insertions, and obstructions of the basic musical idea by using different musical contents and confronting them. It is clear that the timpani almost takes on the role of a soloist in this composition.
Mufa (2013) (Canadian Premiere)
The title, Mufa, refers to Musikfabrik Ensemble for whom the work was written. It is essentially a rhythmic work with a few static and atmospheric moments changing by homogeneous contrasting panels. The organization of the piece revolves around three numbers: 3, 7, and 11. These numbers manifest themselves in various forms in the grouping of figures, rhythmic and metric combinations, and combinations of pitches governed by these numbers.
Ni d’ici ni d’ailleurs (2015)
Farangis Nurulla-Khoja (Фарангис Нурулла)
Ni d’ici ni d’ailleurs (neither from here nor from somewhere else) is a tribute to displaced people. The work is structured in two broad sections. In the first part, the sound is more delicate, fragile, subtle, and in the second part, it is at once loud and constricted, strangled in a way. There is also, in this work, a confrontation between these two sound elements.
Needle Soup: A Surrealistic Fairy Tale for Octet (2012) (Canadian Premiere)
Isidora Žebeljan (Исидора Жебељан)
Needle Soup has the form of an imaginary short film or short story. The form is completely subject to an unpredictable flow of musical thoughts. Unpredictability means unexpectedness, a sudden shift in the segments of the work’s sound content – a series of different (musical) events that form a single complete experience. I was trying to create music that sounds like the contemporary traditional music of non-existent people, placed somewhere between Belgrade and New York or Belgrade and Rajasthan. Serbian and Balkan traditional music is a natural, organic part of my being, like breathing. It has been heard by my inner ear through the ears of my ancestors from centuries past.
Tuesday, November 7th
Discrete Transfer (2012) (Canadian Premiere)
Discrete Transfer was composed for piano and a live computer system consisting of a Macintosh computer running Max/MSP. The system samples the sounds of instruments from the stage, performs signal processing on it, and reproduces transformed piano sound along with its original sound in the hall. Various real-time signal processing techniques are employed, including the frequency and time domain manipulation using FFT/iFFT re-synthesis techniques and the real-time grain oriented frequency modulation technique. This work was premiered in January 2012 in Tokyo and selected at ICMC in Perth and New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival in 2013.
The Garden of Sonic Delights (2016) (Canadian Premiere)
The Garden of Sonic Delights invites the listener to enter an imaginary soundscape (one that Murray Schafer might describe as a “soniferous garden”) richly filled with sounds that may remind us of the actual sounds of water, wind, insects, animals, and birds. Our visit will take us through the afternoon until the next morning, hopefully leaving us delighted and refreshed. The piece was commissioned by Birmingham ElectroAcoustic Sound Theatre (BEAST) for BEAST FEaST 2016, and realized in 48 channels at the Technical University, Berlin, and the composer’s private studio assisted by Outboard’s TiMax2 Soundhub for spatialization. (Barry Truax)
Definierte Lastbedingung (2016) (Canadian Premiere)
Clemens von Reusner
Definierte Lastbedingung (a defined load condition – a technical term when testing electrical machines) is based upon the sounds of electromagnetic fields as they arise when using electric devices recorded at a research institute. In their noisiness, these sounds are static, though moved inside. They usually seem bulky, harsh and repellent, even hermetic as the well-known electrical hum. These sounds are explored in their structure, reshaped, and musically dramatized by the means of the electronic studio. The main frequency of electrical current in Europe is 50 hertz and hence 50 and its multiples are also the numerical keys this composition is based upon.
Glacial Music (2013) (Canadian Premiere)
Glacial Music is a work for flute, or rather, to a large extent the parts of flute (mouthpiece, body) and electronics. Generally, it is a result of my fascinations of the sonoristic possibilities of the flute in connection with electronically deformed flute samples. The electronic layer – quadraphonic – creates a specific ambience connected with the flute’s parts. My intention was to show all the wealth of technical possibilities against the background and in connection with electronics. Coexistence of the acoustic sounds and electronic parts are not accidental. It is strictly planned and depends on time that is indicated in the score. (Ryszard Osada)
POWELL STREET FESTIVAL
This is fun for me, even if you don’t think it is (2015)
This work developed as a result of stumbling upon the early history of the tango with its role in society at that time. It originated in lower class neighbourhoods, where it was mostly men dancing with other men, practising so that they could attend the upper class balls, learning to pretend to be of a higher social class than they were. At the same time, there were also men at these milongas who were pretending to pretend so that they could meet other men learning to pretend. This work is inspired by two LGBT trailblazers, Judith Butler and Michael Finnissy.
Kropka Na Ogonie & Soroka Fruwa (2016) (World Premiere)
Aurélie Nyirabikali Lierman
Kropka Na Ogonie & Soroka Fruwa is a miniature musical and theatrical performance in two acts for solo percussionist. Kropka Na Ogonie, Polish for “Dot On The Tail,” is about the visual beauty of written language and how from writing gestures and the art of engraving, you can create a sonic and visual composition. Graffiti and calligraphy form an important source of inspiration, as well as the shape of the Polish alphabet and its diacritics. Soroka Fruwa, Polish for “Magpie Is Flying,” is about body language and nonverbal communication with the human child and birds as archetypes.
TAMAZUSA for piccolo solo (2015) (Canadian Premiere)
The word Tamazusa is derived from an ancient Japanese word Tama-Azusa. Azusa means birch tree. In an ancient preliterate society, there were messengers who carried canes made of birch wood. They delivered messages by word of mouth. From this, Tamazusa and Tama-Azusa came to refer to a message or letter. In addition, Tamazusa also represents karasu uri (Japanese snake gourd) whose seed resembles the shape of a knotted letter. Breathing through the embouchure hole of the piccolo and carrying a message on the music, the player of this piece becomes a messenger. So I titled this work Tamazusa. (Etsuko Hori)
I composed NEFES.PAS.ÇIRA.IŞI during a residency in a close collaboration with two amazing friends and performers: Christian Smith (percussion) and Rosa Soler (flute). In this piece, I work with very delicate sonic materials whose performance physicality dictates the extremely concentrated, clear-cut formal structure. Basically, each material (and each combination) constitutes a section. The timbral identities of these materials/combinations, along with their performative aspects, assign these sections their identities, and the whole piece its aesthetic character. NEFES.PAS.ÇIRA.IŞI is a ceremony in which different sound worlds are celebrated one after another. (Murat Çolak)
Thinking Eden (2015) (Canadian Premiere)
Imagined as a reflection on the “original light” theme, this piece has a monopartite structure, subdivided into three sections: 1. Before Beginning; 2. Original light; 3. In the Garden of Eden. The music architecture is rubato – sostenuto ma senza rigore and integrates a rich array of sound effects and writing solutions: flute multiphonics (noted after Pierre-Yves Artaud’s Traité …), piano and vibraphone clusters which are often interrelated, glissandi in different speeds distributed to piano and vibraphone, melodic formulas imagined as equivalent to them and entrusted to the flute, and flashing passages of collective improvisation.
ReincarnatiOn Ring II for Shō, U and iPods (2014) (Canadian Premiere)
Yasunoshin Morita (森田 泰之進)
In this work, the player is supposed to be a mediator for the reincarnation of half-broken iPods which the composer bought at an auction site. The “surround” audio by installed iPods makes a beautiful combination with the player and gives the audience anacatesthesia.
PEP & STANDING WAVE ENSEMBLE
James O’Callaghan (biography/biographie, page X)
Sorrow and Its Beauty (2017) (World Premiere)
More than ten years ago, I made a frustratingly unsatisfactory first attempt at this piece. Thanks to Corey Hamm’s sensitive cajoling, I have made a new and definitive version, in which only a small part of the original survives. The Erhu music is derived from Joseph-Marie Amiot’s Divertissements Chinois (1779), courtesy of my friend Tom Irvine. Amiot’s well-intentioned transcriptions stumble into issues of ‘cultural appropriation’ and ‘globalisation’ (hence my title). The piece is dedicated to PEP. (Michael Finnissy)
Water and Stone (2012) (Canadian Premiere)
Water and Stone was developed from a concept on which my group “Yggdrasil” first based a performance at the Summartónar Festival 2011 (Faroe Islands): water interacting with stone and the oppositions in the two materials. For the festival the following year, I used material from this performance as the basis for a piece for solo piano, which was written for Greek pianist Panayiotis Demopoulos, who premiered and recorded it. Following Water & Stone, I composed other water related pieces – Water & Wind, Sea Creature, Sails. A recording with my music, including Water & Stone, was released September 2017 by Faroese pianist Mattias Kapnas.
The Bright March (2016) (Canadian Premiere)
The Bright March was a solo piece for erhu, composed by Maestro LIU Tianhua in the early 20th century. When composer Xiaogang Ye visited Wuxi City of the Jiangsu Province and traced music maestros LIU Tianhua and A’bing’s footsteps in their hometown, he decided to compose six works for Chinese traditional music with the same names of the two maestros’ works. The new piece didn’t adopt any music elements from the original work, instead the music was newly conceived by the composer. The piece expresses the composer’s admiration for Maestro LIU Tianhua. The new piece is full of optimism and passion.
SONORITIES AND MULTICOLOURED GLADIOLI (2015) (Canadian Premiere)
SONORITIES AND MULTICOLOURED GLADIOLI, a piece for piano solo is based on a series of powerfully individualized compositional structures that succeed each other and merge into each other, thus building up tension into an expressive arch that mostly rests on the evocative character of the work. Structured into a single movement with a series of inner sections, the piece covers the entire chromatic range, and differentiated modal constructions are set off through the imposition of certain structures that are limited with regard to pitch. SONORITIES AND MULTICOLOURED GLADIOLI is part of a series of works that is less innovative but that lays emphasis on expressivity.
Parting (2017) (Canadian Premiere)
Parting is based on Parting Friends from the American Sacred Harp tradition, and in particular, transformations I made of a recording of the song. Sacred Harp music is characterized by its participatory nature, full volume and frequent nasal timbre, aspects of which I play with in Parting, written for the Piano Erhu Project (PEP). (Terri Hron)
Hu Yan (胡言) (2017) (World Premiere)
Hu Yan (胡言) was written in 2017 for the duo project of pianist Corey Hamm and erhu virtuoso Li Ge. Each of the six movements is characterized with a distinct idea. The contrasting 3rd and 4th movements form a center point, from which other movements radiate outward as mirror images. The boisterous dancing first movement and desolate, ritualistic last movement could not be more different, though they are tightly bound by the same musical materials. Hu Yan in Chinese means “random and careless words” as part of a well-known idiom, but here it takes on another meaning: “Erhu Utterances”.
Echo Chamber (2017) (World Premiere)
As a composer, I have long been preoccupied with the acoustical properties of spaces, from classic cathedrals and concert halls, to underground chambers and swimming pools. For the last several years, I have explored different methods of using “echo” effects in my compositions – even without such naturally occurring echos in the venue. Meanwhile, a second analogous use of “echo chamber” has arisen to describe the way ideas and beliefs are reinforced by repetition within a closed system, leading to the disturbing growth of cultural tribalism. Echo Chamber is an attempt to explore in music the subtle ways in which ideas and melodic material can be trapped in an echo chamber.
Talia Amar (טליה עמר)
The entire piece is a reminiscence of an unknown memory. It starts in the middle of the action, with no introduction of the original materials. As the piece progresses, the development is entirely based on the unknown seed. As a result, the listeners feel familiarity with the materials but they can’t know the exact origin of it because they never heard it. The listener is welcome to imagine what this original source sounds like.
When the Buffalo Went Away (2006) (Canadian Premiere)
When the Buffalo Went Away is an attempt to use music to describe the extinction of a species. At the end of 19th century, Plains Indians were driven out of their land to protect the interests of white colonists. More efficient than direct military action, intentional destruction of bison herds enabled the colonists to carry out this cultural genocide. Many large Indian tribes waned as the bison herds disappeared. The story is based on a 1920s recollection by chief Plenty Coups from the Crow tribe: “When the buffalo went away the hearts of my people fell to the ground, and they could not lift them up again. After this nothing happened.”
Krónan (2009) (Canadian Premiere)
In October 2008, Iceland’s national currency, the króna, collapsed on the heels of a gradual decline since 2007. This stirred up a discussion in Iceland about whether to adopt a different currency – one of the options considered being the Canadian dollar. Krónan is based on Icelandic financial graphs and charts from the period 19 July 2007 to 26 January 2009. The piece is written for a chamber ensemble, with the additional electric guitar improvisation played by the composer herself.
subject/object is a work about the piano for ensemble. To me, the piano is an elusive object of contradictions. Sometimes called ‘the composer’s instrument’, it is meant to be able to distill a larger world of sound than is its province, as in the familiar idea of the piano reduction. Part of the material is a transcription of a parent acousmatic work, Objects-Interiors. The sounds produced by the ensemble are contextualized as a site for resonance, reduction, and memory. subject/object was commissioned by Standing Wave with support from the Canada Council for the Arts.
Wednesday, November 8th
Mishpatim (Laws) Part I (2003, revised/rév. 2016) (Canadian Premiere)
Dániel Péter Biró
Mishpatim (Laws) Part I is the outcome of research into methods of producing organized sound by means of Gematria. In Hebrew, each letter possesses a numerical value. Gematria is the calculation of the numerical equivalence of letters, words, or phrases. All of the pitches, rhythms, and techniques are derived from or are reactions to text taken from the Biblical text Mishpatim (Exod. 23:1–9), which deals with various religious, legal, ethical and cultic regulations. Re-tracing the historical becoming of these relationships to their contemporary predicament, the composition exists as a historicized, sonorous question.
Lambent Fires (2016) (Canadian Premiere)
Lambent Fires is a frenetic, brightly coloured, virtuosic showpiece for eight players. Lambent, (meaning glowing, gleaming, flickering light or fire) originates from the Latin verb lambere. One of Taplin’s main aims whilst composing the piece was to create an overall sense of revealing in the structure of the music. All the textures and harmonies in the work are created from one central line. The clearest and most direct statement of the Cantus Firmus is not stated overtly until the very end. However, even this momentary glimpse of the musical core essence becomes very quickly shrouded in a climactic inferno.
Isär (Apart) (2012) (Canadian Premiere)
My father grew up in a little Finnish-speaking village by the boundary river Muonio in between Sweden and Finland. I knew beforehand that the commission for Norrbotten Neo would bear traces of him. My thoughts circled already daily around my father, (“isä” in Finnish), who suffered for years with Alzheimer’s disease. He was retreating in his thoughts into his childhood in Norrbotten during the 1940’s. An accelerating and pushing anxiety made him increasingly obsessed with leaving home. Finally, nothing could keep him alive: the time felt apart, (“isär” in Swedish).
Hände ohne Orte (2017) (Canadian Premiere)
Stefan Prins’s recent work investigates acoustic/audio-visual hybrid spaces, inhabited by hybrid bodies – in reaction to/as a reflection on the increasingly hybridised and networked augmented reality that we know from our everyday life.
Lied • TDU FS (2017) (World Premiere)
I often use collage techniques and assemblage of heterogeneous forms with a programmatic character. The fragmented nature of these events underlines their character of work in progress: a sort of tale without beginning and ending, a permeable space asserting its non-obstruction to diverse voices, fragments, and oneiric sound/video-scapes. The piece is dedicated to Bill Linwood.
Bauci (2016) (Canadian Premiere)
The inhabitants of Baucis: “[…] love it as it was before they existed and with spyglasses and telescopes aimed downward they never tire of examining it, … contemplating with fascination their own absence.” [Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities, translated by William Weaver]. Bauci (the name of the ficticious city in the original short story in Italian) is the alienating metaphor of otherness: it is invisible, but it exists; is beyond the earth, but lying on the earth. A filiform sound, inaudible but terrestrial, clear and bright but stretching out in the darkness. A sound to peer in the absence, metaphor for every search: a search without adjectives, without why, the last threshold to which the human being is condemned.
Zaklinjanje (Incantation) (2015) (Canadian Premiere)
On first view, it seems that the composition Zanklinjanje (Incantation) by young Slovenian composer Nana Forte has nothing to do with the master of darkness but if we are more attentive, we soon discover a surprising fact: if we add the year of the composer’s birth (1981) and the year in which the present composition was completed (2015), we get the number 3996. If we then divide this number by six, the result is 666. It is no wonder the composition bears a witchcraft title and with its hypnotic attractiveness, attempts to bewitch the listeners. (Aljaž Zupančič, Festival Maribor)
Tear (2013) (Canadian Premiere)
In Tear, old Finnish folk tunes find themselves in alien surroundings. They act as echoes from the past and these echoes are also twisted towards melodies of our time. I have tried to create a timeless territory where different sound objects are melted together. In the music of Tear, the most intimate tones rise often from the middle of silent areas. In the middle of thin, riffling, and coarse textures, one can find scratching strands and fragile fluff.
Concerto corto (2017) (World Premiere)
Ordinarily when I compose, I begin with a concept inspired by something extra-musical, whether it’s an image, memory, history, or current events. Contrarily, when I wrote Concerto corto, I was consumed with purely musical concerns. I began with the idea of reverberation and how this physical concept could be manifested in the relationship between the violin and orchestra – whether sounds were reverberating out of the solo violin part, echoing around it, or imitating each other. As I continued to explore though, my initial experiments with reverberation liberated me creatively and resulted in the eclectic compositional language that pervades this piece. (Jared Miller)
Envers IV (2016) (Canadian Premiere)
Commissioned by the Simone and Cino del Duca Foundation of the Institut de France’s Academy of Fine Arts, this work was composed and premiered in 2016 “in memory of all the victims of attacks, of all those who have fallen prey to human violence”. It opens with a series of regular thumps that symbolize impacts on the victims, soon followed by sound configurations evoking the idea of falling and dissolution. While these direct allusions to the attacks are being made, a reverse process is taking place, which also starts at the very beginning of the piece. Discretely at first, and gradually more conspicuously, an ascending melodic motion develops, which represents hope for a world of sharing, not a world dominated by madness or hatred, but one in which peace would reign among all beings. The work ends with a kind of dilated waltz which slowly fades into silence.
CLOSING CONCERT: A KIND OF MAGIC
Submerged in Silence (2013) (Canadian Premiere)
I-lly Cheng (鄭伊里)
|對錯。On/Off 。||。Inside/Outside 。內外|
|動靜。Motion/Stillness 。||。Rapid/Inert 。快慢|
|強弱。Violent/Gentle 。||。Thick/Thin 。厚薄|
|遠近。Distant/Imminent 。||。Sparse/Dense 。疏密|
|虛實。Empty/Solid 。||。Shine/Rain 。晴雨|
|呼吸。inhale/exhale 。||。High/Low 。高低|
The Cartography of Time (2016) (Canadian Premiere)
David Brynjar Franzson
- the science or practice of drawing maps.
- expressing the relationship between a part and a whole.
- expressing the relationship between a scale or measure and a value.
- the indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole.
“How is it possible that one should measure time? For the past cannot be measured, as it is gone by; and the future can’t be measured because it has not yet come. And the present can’t be measured for it has no extension.” (Wittgenstein)
MELISME (2008) (Canadian Premiere)
Dr. Irina Hasnas
This piece for solo piano is set up as a research laboratory and prospect of Romanian ancestral folklore. The two sections, parlando and rubato, reflect the reality of improvisation and strictness. In fact, the sections reflect the essence of Doina songs and Christmas carols. Specific Romanian folklore is alternated between improvisation and rigor, with the precision of the melody and the rhythm. Hasnas was interested in the duality between precision and improvisation. The result of this research was a cycle of pieces for chamber ensemble and the work MELISME is part of. This piece is dedicated to the pianist Mr. Remus Manoleanu.
MEUN II (2015) (Canadian Premiere)
The title of the work is that of French painter Simon Hantaï’s series. This work was based on the “balance between object and space,” a characteristic of Hantaï’s work. I studied how two heterogeneous objects (a piano and small speakers) are in harmony with each other and achieve a balance in a single work at the same time. There is a specific installation for the work: Two small speakers are placed inside a piano. Various synthesized sounds from the speaker create a resonance with the piano strings as the piano pedal is pressed, and a specific sound colour is produced and achieved as a result.
Es war einmal ein Baum (2015) (World Premiere)
This musical creation originates from a series of compositions dealing with things which seem to be natural for everyone – like a sheet of white paper, a pencil, a raindrop, a tree. These things surround us and we don’t pay much attention. But all these unimpressive objects contain a kind of magic, a secret, a particular story that speak to us. Working on this piano piece was listening to such expressions, listening to the words of a tree and my response to them. Perhaps this composition will promote perceiving these things with more awareness: more carefulness, more humility and more gratitude.
a cry (2015) (Canadian Premiere)
a cry was written in 2015, as the refugee crisis was unfolding across Europe. It was inspired by a charcoal drawing by George Minne, himself a refugee, on a wall of the house he was staying at in the Welsh town of Llanidloes during World War I. It takes its title and pitch material from the Welsh hymn tune, Llef (a cry), which its composer wrote in response to his brother’s death. It has a lullaby-like quality – its subdued nature conveys a calm after the storm which is full of grief and loss.
Spherical springs (2014) (Canadian Premiere)
Shingo Matsuura (松浦 伸吾)
This piece was composed from my carefree imagination of spherical springs. Springs that well up suddenly in empty space may be spherical. Can the form of springs be maintained as the amount of water increases? The impression of these springs will vary due to the action of lights, winds, gravitations, or something that wells up suddenly. This piece has two sections, one is seeing many springs from far away and another is watching a spring nearby.
Foxconn Frequency (no.2) (2015)
Remy Siu (蕭逸南)
Foxconn Frequency (no.2) for one visibly Chinese performer investigates the consequences of disconnecting action and labour from sound. Using the poetry of Xu Lizhi—a former Foxconn worker—as a structural blueprint to move through a series of dictations and testings, the piece seeks to create a space for failure and stakes. The work is a re-examination of the concert music apparatus, borrowing elements from video games, electronic music, and contemporary theatre to construct a different kind of performance experience. A collaborative approach was taken to tailor the system to the performer’s body.
Mercurium (2012) (Canadian Premiere)
The composition has been inspired by the two meanings of the word Mercury; as a planet and as a chemical element. Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun and thus the warmest one. As a chemical element, Mercury or quicksilver is a liquid-type metal that can move in unpredictable directions. Interestingly enough, the planet Mercury’s orbital period around the Sun is 88 days and a piano has exactly 88 keys.
Prälüd (2016) (World Premiere)
Prälüd is a Prelude for solo piano. It is based on the two versions of the octatonic scale. The piece starts with the statement of the initial, slightly eerie theme. As this theme grows, it develops into chords and melismas, canonic renditions and intermittent gongs. The piece undergoes a momentary but sudden modulation into its complementary octatonic scale before returning to the home key and concluding with the opening ideas. The name, a phonetic respelling of the word “prelude” is a comment on enharmonic spellings of the octatonic scale – there is no single correct way.
Homage to Debussy (2012) (Canadian Premiere)
Kwang-I Ying (應廣儀)
For Debussy’s 150-year birthday, all the pitch materials are from the letters of the title Homage to Debussy. The letters would be translated to digitals and then to pitches’ name. For example: the first letter of Debussy is a “d”. After turning it to a different side and angle, it could become a “q” which looks close to the digital “9”. With the same idea, the word “Debussy（dEbussy）” could become digitals 9362554, then, following the pitch class concept, the pitch-set of “Debussy” would be A,Eb,Gb,D,F,F, and E. Every pitch-set, of course, can be modulated, inverted or retrograded. Besides running notes, the parallelism writing also occurs in this piece.
Lune solitaire et silencieuse (2017) (Canadian Premiere)
Hao-fu Zhang (张豪夫)
Its title, Lonely, Silent Moon, originates in a verse of The Song of Yangzhou by Jiang Baishi (1155-1221), a poet and musician of the Song dynasty. The poet expressed his melancholy after a visit to the famous historical city of Yangzhou during the winter of 1196. The changes that affected the city caused the loss of its former beauty, which touched him deeply. The idea of the work is a thought on the passage of time in a man’s life. This piece is my own way of representing the “moonlight” – a tribute to two respectful grandmasters, Beethoven and Debussy.
Opera Transcriptions: Tristan und Isolde (2013)
Rodney Sharman )
In 1989 I began a series of opera transcriptions for piano in response to Michael Finnissy’s Verdi Transcriptions. My long-time artistic collaborator Rachel Iwaasa chose the Liebestod, Wagner’s vision of sensuality, longing, and transfiguration. Isolde’s final words are among the most famous in all opera: “höchste Lust!”, often translated as “utmost joy!”, but literally “highest (sexual) desire”. My transformation is taken note-for-note from the vocal line and orchestral melodies, displacing some notes at the octave and altering the original rhythms. This piece was commissioned by Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa through the generosity of the Canada Council.
Klavierklang for piano and stereo soundtrack (2017) (World Premiere)
Klavierklang is a sonic-musical journey into the complexities of piano playing. During the past few years, Pianist Rachel Iwaasa and I often reflected on the challenging and traumatic, but also inspiring experiences we have had with piano teachers, the roles our mothers’ ears played in our musical development, and how much the piano has been both a sanctuary for sonic explorations and soundmaking, as well as a site of trauma and discouragement. Ultimately, Klavierklang is a journey towards the piano playing we have always loved, into the magic of its sound.
Constellation I-III (2011)
Szlavnics uses sinewaves as an electronic partner, extending the piano in unique ways. In Constellations, Szlavnics weaves sinewaves on top of and through the attack and decay of the piano. Szlavnics makes the piano sound like its pitch is bending (which is impossible in reality). European music has been dominated by the piano’s twelve tone fixedness for hundreds of years. Pitch shifting is more akin to world music and some contemporary music. Szlavnics does not fight the pitch fixedness of the piano; she plays with its limitations and strengths, coaxing it in to a new realm where it is re-imagined as a new instrument. (Eve Egoyan)
The Art of Touching the Keyboard (1983)
The title of this music is an over-literal translation of the title of Francois Couperin’s harpsichord tutor of 1716, L’art de toucher le clavecin. It seemed appropriate for a piece which begins with the player pressing single keys tentatively, as if encountering the instrument for the first time, and ends ten minutes later with the same repeated notes marked ‘confident and relaxed’. In the interim, the music, which is in a single continuous movement, demonstrates the many ways in which the piano keys can be touched, from the gentlest of strokes to the most vicious of blows.